How papers are manipulating circulation numbers

Dateline: Sat 30 Jun 2007

A reader emailed the following Sacramento Bee article, which addresses the "new ways" newspapers are adding up readership -- ways that make some of us a little uneasy. Obviously Indianapolis Star publisher Barbara Henry is not the only one to emphasize readership rather than talk about actual paid subscribers.

Here's the story:

"Measuring readership, Web visits, shared users.

"By Dale Kasler

"For decades, newspaper audience --- the basis for setting

advertising rates --- has been measured by paid circulation. Now,

caught up in a multimedia world that is siphoning off circulation and

advertising dollars, newspaper publishers are trying to [more fully

make their readers] count.

"The industry-supported Audit Bureau of Circulations (ABC), a

nonprofit organization that verifies newspaper circulation, is about

to roll out a system for counting papers' total audience. The system

will go beyond paid circulation and include measurements of

'pass-along' print readership --- reflecting the copies that are

shared among friends or members or a household --- and the paper's

local Web site traffic.

"Newspaper executives admit the new system won't solve everything but

say it will blunt the notion that newspapers are doomed and help them

reverse their slide in ad revenue. They note that it has the

endorsement of the ad community, which is a partner in ABC."

Are newspapers really doomed?


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