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According to Audit Bureau of Circulations (ABC) data released this morning (Oct. 30), U-T circulation declined for all but its Saturday edition between Sept. 30, 2011 and Sept. 30, 2012. Sunday circulation dropped from 368,723 in fall of last year to 351,682 this year. Monday-Friday dropped from 227,872 last year to 208,931 this year. Saturday circulation rose to 300,956 this year from 225,918 last year. Saturday circulation was boosted by 109,116 in branded editions, or versions of the paper usually having a different nameplate and some distinct content. Branded editions added far fewer on other days: 13,829 Monday-Friday and 69,954 Sunday.

The North County Times, which the U-T has purchased, also recorded declines from the period ended Sept. 30 last year to the same period this year. Sunday was down from 80,920 to 78,107; Monday-Friday dropped from 74,165 to 70,476 and Saturday declined from 53,422 to 49,702.

The Los Angeles Times recorded gains on Sunday, Monday-Friday and Saturday editions. The Orange County Register had a gain Monday-Friday but declines on Sunday and Saturday.

For a newspaper's bottom line, however, much depends on how much is being charged for each paper. Under rules adopted recently, a newspaper can be sold for one penny and be counted as paid circulation. The U-T, for example, has provided papers to churches for one cent each; the church then sells the paper to parishioners for the full price, and pockets the difference as a donation. This practice can pad circulation, but advertisers soon get wise to it.

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Comments

Don Bauder Oct. 30, 2012 @ 7:18 a.m.

NOTE: U-T DOESN'T PIERCE TOP 25 IN TWO CATEGORIES, BUT DOES IN SUNDAY CIRCULATION. San Diego is the nation's 17th largest market. But according to today's ABC data, it doesn't make the top 25 markets by average circulation or the top 25 with digital editions. (The Wall Street Journal and USA Today, which are national publications, shouldn't count when comparing circulation by metro area.) The U-T does come in 22nd in average Sunday circulation.

In average circulation, newspapers in smaller markets make the top 25, including Denver, Tampa-St. Petersburg, Cleveland, San Jose, Honolulu, Portland (Oregon), and Las Vegas. Of course, there are other variables besides circulation to measure success in a given market.

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SurfPuppy619 Oct. 30, 2012 @ 8:19 a.m.

The UT is more like a "weekly" paper today with sport coverage of daily news and op-ed pieces on the entire front page. Not a good combo, especially if you disagree with the op-ed stuff.

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Don Bauder Oct. 30, 2012 @ 1:26 p.m.

Yes, SP, and in recent years Democrats have outnumbered Republicans in the City of San Diego (not the county, and I don't know if it's still true in the city, but suspect it is.) And not all Republicans are redneck Republicans, whom the UT clearly tailors its pitches to. So by using the paper as a Tea Party propaganda organ, the U-T may be shooting itself in the foot. Best, Don Bauder

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Visduh Oct. 30, 2012 @ 8:34 a.m.

Las Vegas makes it into the top 25? I'd have supposed that the newspaper there suffered from massive indifference to news, opinion or features.

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Don Bauder Oct. 30, 2012 @ 1:30 p.m.

I was surprised at Las Vegas too, Visduh. I've been following these data for years and to the best of my memory haven't seen Vegas in the top 25 before. Maybe there are titillating classified ads in Vegas papers that aren't placed in the electronic competition. Best, Don Bauder

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Ken Harrison Oct. 31, 2012 @ 4:07 p.m.

Its the same in the radio and TV markets. San Diego is the 7th or 8th largest city, but ranks in the high teens in market size.

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Don Bauder Oct. 31, 2012 @ 4:43 p.m.

califcomedy: yes, San Diego is the 17the largest U.S. market. People will always say, "Here we are the 8th largest city but we don't...." but the size of cities means little. For the private sector, at least, it is the size of the market that matters. Statistically, San Diego's market is the county; SD is one of the few metro areas in which the market is defined as a political boundary. As a radio and TV market, San Diego is lower than 17th, the last time I looked, but that was a long time ago. Best, Don Bauder

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rmj Nov. 1, 2012 @ 5:01 p.m.

Received an email from an acquaintance (who coincidentially works for the UT)...

If you don’t currently subscribe to the Union Tribune, you can order Wednesday through Sunday for only “5 CENTS” for the entire year. And my daughter's team gets $10 from the UT. There is no catch, the UT wants to send $250K to local schools this year. Just fill out the attached form and scan and email back or bring to the next game.

If you are interested in doing the same for your school we simply need a W9 from your 501C3 dated within the last 6 months.

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