— Despite a bit more reportorial enterprise and jazzy Sunday front pages, circulation at the Union-Tribune continues its long decline. According to numbers released last week by the Audit Bureau of Circulations, in the six-month period ending in March, Monday-through-Friday circulation fell 3.8 percent to 317,217, while the Sunday edition's falloff was even more precipitous, plunging 7.4 percent to 408,392. Other Southern California papers experienced a similar trend. The L.A. Times' daily numbers fell 5.4 percent to 851,832, and Sunday eroded 1.8 percent to 1,231,318. Escondido-based North County Times fared better, with daily circulation down 2.7 percent to 90,981 and Sunday down 1.1 percent to 92,073.

But U-T sources say that the paper harbors a hidden skeleton in the form of the "other paid" circulation category -- papers that are given away in various promotions by big-box stores, including Target. If the 31,130 "other paid" number is subtracted, the U-T's Sunday circulation falls all the way to 377,262. The San Francisco Chronicle, which is gradually cutting down on promotional copies in an effort to present a more accurate picture of its readership, saw its circulation drop 15.6 percent, the largest decline in the country.

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