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This morning's (May 1) data from the Alliance for Audited Media (formerly the Audit Bureau of Circulations) show the Union-Tribune taking a circulation beating from last year.

For the six month period ended March 31, 2014, compared with the six months ended March 31, 2013, Sunday circulation dropped from 425,000 to 362,166. (These data include branded editions and digital.) On Monday, the decline was from 222,572 to 196,062. On Tuesday, the drop was from 226,400 to 182,516. On Wednesday, the decline was from 230,151 to 192,751. Thursday's drop was from 285,474 to 249,201. Friday's decline was from 288,385 to 243,201.

The only gain was on Saturday, from 345,103 to 367,438. That largely reflected 171,401 in a branded edition. Branded editions on other days ran from 27,000 to 92,000.

The company earlier admitted to employees that it was not meeting its goals. The company has recently raised prices sharply for street editions. I have heard anecdotally that subscription prices have gone up, too, although I have not checked that with the company.

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aardvark May 1, 2014 @ 10:26 a.m.

Just a guess here. Dougie's plan is to eventually turn the Manchester U-T into an on-line only news service, move the headquarters somewhere else, and redevelop that piece of property where the current headquarters sit. I don't what else he could be doing, because he surely isn't improving the product. He must have really lost his ass with U-T TV.


Don Bauder May 1, 2014 @ 12:06 p.m.

aardvark: Since the now-shuttered U-T TV was losing an estimated $500,000 a month, Manchester had to take a hit on it. Newspaper circulation is declining. I don't know about advertising, but those who eyeball it say it is probably dropping.

At the time Manchester bought the paper, some were saying he would go online with it, move the operation to cheaper quarters, and develop the Mission Valley property, along with other properties he picked up. He has filed for entitlements to develop the Mission Valley parking lot. Yes, the scenario you suggest may have been one he had in mind from the outset. Best, Don Bauder


Visduh May 1, 2014 @ 10:48 a.m.

These declines aren't disastrous, they're catastrophic. That paper, especially in light of its absorption of the North County Times, should at least be able to hold its own, or suffer only single-digit circulation declines. When you see how it has shrunk, and read stories several days after they show in the Reader, you know things are bad. (The most recent story that came out three or four days late was the one about the Mexican soldiers in the tunnel under the border. By the time it showed up in the Mill, it wasn't news any more; it was contemporary history.)

I"m glad I'm not a media buyer any more, because it is hard to tell just what an advertiser should or would do. But I do know that I'd be on their butts big time if they weren't trimming the ad rates in anticipation of further circulation shrinkage.


David Dodd May 1, 2014 @ 11:39 a.m.

I don't think it's a lack of scooping stories that makes the U-T continue to lose money, I think it's the product in general. I can't read that paper. The idea that scooping a story is more important than getting the story RIGHT, is a bad idea. The fact that the U-T can do neither is why they are struggling, in my opinion. They still have some good people there, barely. But it's obvious that those people no longer make decisions. And that's sad for San Diego.


Don Bauder May 1, 2014 @ 12:14 p.m.

David Dodd: Yes, too often in reading a story you sense a heavy hand -- or fear of a heavy hand -- coming from higher up. You can't always blame the reporter. He or she may write a perfectly good story, but the next level of editor may fear wrath from above, and gut it. Best, Don Bauder


Don Bauder May 1, 2014 @ 12:10 p.m.

Visduh: Oh yes: ad rates should come down as circulation falls. It has been clear for many months that Manchester did not significantly gain readers from his $12 million purchase of the North County Times although, again, he may come out OK on the real estate he bought.

I agree: the U-T is too late with too little on many stories. Best, Don Bauder


Don Bauder May 1, 2014 @ 1:59 p.m.

San Diego Highwayman: Yes, the quality has gone down. Of course, that's true of other metro dailies, too, but the U-T quality decline appears to be more pronounced.

I know of metro dailies that have shrunk considerably, but have made very good use of the smaller amount of space by featuring excellent investigative reporting and the like.

I keep saying this, but it is well worth repeating: when Manchester and Lynch announced at the outset that reporters would be cheerleaders for business, the military, and a downtown football stadium, they were announcing that the paper would be a propaganda vehicle that could not be trusted to present the truth. I don't know that the U-T under the current ownership will ever get over that initial pronouncement. That is one of several reasons leading me to believe that Manchester might possibly sell. Best, Don Bauder


zollner May 1, 2014 @ 4:58 p.m.

A free and active press is key to a real democracy. All the UT is a platform for the 1% to lie and cheat the tax payer out of their right to know what is going on with the government. The UT's lack of reporting the truth and slanting all the news for what is good for Uncle Buck Manchester and his side kick Lynch, is nothing more then a propaganda pamphlet as you stated Mr. Bauder.

All I can hope for is that someone buys the paper that wants to have a paper that is a check on the government and makes them walk the straight and narrow, Advocates for issues that will help the most people not just the 1%, who are only in it for their greedy selves.

I can dream can't I???


Don Bauder May 1, 2014 @ 6:40 p.m.

zollner: Clearly, the U-T with its Tea Party editorial positions -- often placed on page one -- is aiming for a diminishing audience in San Diego. The city is Democratic and the county is about 50-50.

Maybe the U-T's target is an upscale audience largely in the affluent sectors north of I-8. Manchester's purchase of the North County Times and weeklies in that region suggests this. But his capital outlay to buy the U-T suggests he has paid a lot to garner a narrow market. Further, it is clear he did not capture North County Times readers.

Also, advertisers aiming for that market have other efficient ad buys. To get a broad swath of advertisers, the U-T has to have at least reasonably good penetration throughout the county. Numbers suggest it is not getting that.

One explanation is Manchester may want the paper as a propaganda vehicle for downtown corporate welfare projects, figuring that eventually readership will sink to the point that he can go all-online and develop the Mission Valley property. One problem with that strategy is it might be some time before Mission Valley is ready for more development. Best, Don Bauder


Visduh May 2, 2014 @ 7:44 a.m.

As some anecdotal evidence of the failure to convert NCT subscribers, I noted at the time that three of my four closest neighbors were taking the Times up until it was no longer published. There is no indication that any one of them switched to the Mill, nor the LA Times. Those households just don't have a newspaper any more. And so it goes.

If I were a retail ad buyer now, as I was many years ago, I think I would put my circulars into one of those mailed vehicles such as all the supermarkets use or the Pennysaver, and hit all the households. This UT product just doesn't do the sort of job it did thirty years ago.


Don Bauder May 2, 2014 @ 10:30 a.m.

Visduh: I agree. It is not an efficient advertising buy for so many kinds of advertisers. The alternatives you mention are good ones.

People who cancel their U-T subscriptions tell me the papers continue to be delivered and are likely to pile up on the porch or lawn. This is a sign of desperation. Best, Don Bauder


Matt101 May 2, 2014 @ 12:49 p.m.

"People who cancel their U-T subscriptions tell me the papers continue to be delivered and are likely to pile up on the porch or lawn." -- Meaning that the U-T's reported circulation numbers might include thousands of papers delivered to homes that have already cancelled?


Don Bauder May 2, 2014 @ 1:33 p.m.

Matt101: Yes, that is possible. Also, papers sold for one penny are counted as paid circulation. We know the U-T is selling papers for extremely low prices -- probably a penny -- to charitable organizations like churches. Those organizations sell the papers to patrons at the regular price, and consider the difference as contributions. The U-T counts the sale as paid circulation. Best, Don Bauder


Matt101 May 2, 2014 @ 12:47 p.m.

If the hard-right editorial slant is aiming for a Tea Party audience, that's misguided. Conservatives who already no longer subscribe to a daily paper aren't going to sign up for the U-T en masse. They can get all the conservative groupthink they want from Fox News and talk radio, without paying for a newspaper subscription or having to pick up yesterday's paper and throw it in the trash can. (Because they're conservative, they probably don't recycle the newspaper. Ha.)


Don Bauder May 2, 2014 @ 1:35 p.m.

Matt101: True: conservatives have Fox, websites, magazines, hate radio such as Rush Limbaugh, etc. Best, Don Bauder


Ponzi May 1, 2014 @ 10:24 p.m.

A sex video with his Russian mail order bride would go viral and increase circulation for a while. It's worth a try. Go for it Papa Doug! The Viagra is on me.


Don Bauder May 2, 2014 @ 10:34 a.m.

Ponzi: I have never been able to prove the Siberian lass, Manchester's new wife, is a mail order bride, so I have never said that. She did come here and divorced the person to whom she had been married. I couldn't reach her ex-husband and his lawyer wasn't talking. Best, Don Bauder


Visduh May 2, 2014 @ 1:04 p.m.

They aren't talking because they have been paid to keep totally quiet.


Don Bauder May 2, 2014 @ 1:38 p.m.

Visduh: That's possible, but a lawyer who won't talk about a client or ex-client may simply be following legal ethics. Best, Don Bauder


Anon92107 May 3, 2014 @ 5:30 a.m.

Don, can the newspaper owners association do the same thing to Manchester that the NBA owners did to Sterling and force him to sell the U-T?

Since Pope Doug bought the U-T he has constantly attacked American Democracy and insulted the intelligence of all U-T readers.

San Diego deserves better than tabloid journalism for a newspaper.


Don Bauder May 3, 2014 @ 8:42 a.m.

Anon92107: No. Any association of newspaper publishers could not force Manchester to sell. The ones who can do that are subscribers who can drop the paper and/or its digital edition and advertisers who can stop placing ads in it. Best, Don Bauder


Visduh May 8, 2014 @ 8:47 a.m.

I think that advertising dollars speak more loudly than subscribers, for some mysterious reason. It may be that the sales force is face-to-face with the ad buyers when they get the bad news, whereas a subscriber who lets his/her subscription lapse seldom says why. And after all, what's just one more or less subscriber? Virtually the entire supermarket industry has abandoned the newspapers, and now distributes color inserts by mail. And here, they all share the same mailer!

Few advertisers are making political statements. Most are just looking for the media that bring the customers through the door as efficiently as possible. That's what I did when I was a media buyer.


nativesd Aug. 28, 2014 @ 4:55 p.m.

We cancelled the UT in early June 2012 and to this day it has continued free of charge. Great price! lol Even at that, many days it requires less than 15 minutes to read through.


Shotgun Shela Sept. 10, 2014 @ 7:10 a.m.

http://www.sandiegoreader.com/users/p..." rel="nofollow">http://www.sandiegoreader.com/users/p... lookin for adventure -- NOT plastic wrapped advertizin circulars thrown in yards, driveways, on sidewalks, in the street -- EVERY Friday -- THAT'S called LITTERING! WHY is it ALLOWED?! It's pollution of the enviroment as hardly anyone reads it, much less picks it up, so it ends up in the gutters, washed into the storm drains, spreadin out over the wetlands where it harms the wildlife -- eventually reachin the OCEAN!

i have a FULL trash can of these advertizin circulars from the UT -- collected from a ONE BLOCK SQUARE area over five weeks time!

IMAGINE the impact of this "LITTER" over the WHOLE of San Diego County in just that time!

WHY is this ALLOWED?!


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