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U-T San Diego circulation drops

Print edition has low market share

Every year, newspapers and other publications have to report circulation figures to the United States Postal Service. This October, U-T San Diego reported more declines.

In October of last year, the seven-day paid circulation of the print edition through Sept. 13, 2013 was 189,822; this year, that figure dropped to 182,083 for the year through Sept. 21. Last year, the paid circulation on Sunday, September 15, was 251,318; this year's paid circulation for Sunday, September 21, was down to 233,109.

These are weak numbers, considering that there are 3.1 million people in the county and about 1.07 million households.

On Tuesday, October 28, data from the Alliance for Audited Media (formerly Audit Bureau of Circulations) will be released. These data include digital and branded numbers — not just the print edition, as the U.S. Postal Service reports. The last Alliance for Audited Media report, for the six-month period ended March 31 of this year, showed the U-T's circulation dropping.

Last year, U-T San Diego cooperated with the Reader on the postal service numbers; this year they did not.

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Every year, newspapers and other publications have to report circulation figures to the United States Postal Service. This October, U-T San Diego reported more declines.

In October of last year, the seven-day paid circulation of the print edition through Sept. 13, 2013 was 189,822; this year, that figure dropped to 182,083 for the year through Sept. 21. Last year, the paid circulation on Sunday, September 15, was 251,318; this year's paid circulation for Sunday, September 21, was down to 233,109.

These are weak numbers, considering that there are 3.1 million people in the county and about 1.07 million households.

On Tuesday, October 28, data from the Alliance for Audited Media (formerly Audit Bureau of Circulations) will be released. These data include digital and branded numbers — not just the print edition, as the U.S. Postal Service reports. The last Alliance for Audited Media report, for the six-month period ended March 31 of this year, showed the U-T's circulation dropping.

Last year, U-T San Diego cooperated with the Reader on the postal service numbers; this year they did not.

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Comments
46

When you realize that this county has a population well in excess of 3 million, and has no other significant daily other than the Mill, this is devastating news. (Sorry, Star-News readers; that paper is irrelevant.) The last round of circulation reporting was far worse, but then, how much farther is there to fall?

These declines explain the dearth of ads from advertisers which once were heavily dependent upon the local daily. Now we see those full page ads from the pest control companies, the solar panel mavins, and other marginal stuff.

Print editions of city daily papers are a dying breed, and I lament that. But in the case of this paper, maybe Burnham's non-profit takeover from Dougie, Johnnie and Jeff might be good news. Gee, anything is better than the current product.

Oct. 24, 2014

Visduh: Early this year, the U-T told its employees it was disappointed with results. Now it is saying that it is one of the truly valuable metro dailies -- something few would believe. It has dumped its disastrous TV venture and it has laid off even more people, but it is hard to see it as a valuable franchise, other than the real estate, which Papa Doug wants to retain if Burnham takes over and turns it nonprofit. Best, Don Bauder

Oct. 24, 2014

Don, let us pray that Burnham takes over next week, especially since Pope Doug has now taken the paper to a new low in yellow journalism by letting the GOP write their Editorials.

Oct. 25, 2014

Anon92107: Burnham can't take over until the IRS clears the purported nonprofit status. That's a couple of months away. The U-T is claiming that DeMaio's staff did not write the editorial. I do not believe that. The imbroglio may come down to definitions. Did DeMaio's staffers actually "write" the editorial, or did it provide all or substantially all of the information that went into it? Either way is malodorous.

If you want a measure of the U-T's integrity, just look at its coverage of the recent revelations by a former DeMaio staffer. The coverage is grossly pro-DeMaio, the U-T's favored candidate. Those who only read the U-T are missing out what other publications have revealed.

Hopefully, we will be finding out just how the U-T's coverage of the Filner episode was swayed by City Attorney Goldsmith's private emails. There are a lot of shocking secrets about the U-T's completely unreliable and slanted coverage that, I hope, will be coming out. Best, Don Bauder

Oct. 25, 2014

"The Filner episode" has to have been the most coordinated media electronic lynching in history. Never have I seen a story so one sided, so innuendo driven and over so little. If every accusation was filmed in a movie it wouldn't have garnered a PG rating.

When Donna had her break-down presser every television station in the city covered it wire to wire without commercial break for nearly an hour. Sheesh.

Oct. 25, 2014

MichaelValentine: Agreed. It was a lynching, and the media got completely snookered (with the exception of some publications, including the Reader.) It is pathetic that Filner's indiscretions (admittedly unwise ones) got so completely blown out of proportion, while DeMaio's very serious behavior and coverups are being ignored by the major newspaper in town. Best, Don Bauder

Oct. 25, 2014

Still as a ploy to invalidate the most participated in Mayoral elections in San Diego history gotta say it worked like a charm as frustrating as it was/is.

Oct. 25, 2014

MichaelValentine: You have to admit: the conspirators got away with it. The day Filner was elected, the conspirators plotted ways to oust him. This was important, because Filner ran on a platform of steering money to infrastructure and rotting neighborhoods. His opponents wanted the money to continue flowing to corporate welfare projects, as has been going on for decades. The opponents lost, but plotted the coup that has succeeded thus far. Taxpayers are going to get squeezed as a result. Best, Don Bauder

Oct. 25, 2014

Filner gave "The Conspirators" fuel for their fire.

Oct. 25, 2014

aardvark: I can't deny that, and he should have known better. Best, Don Bauder

Oct. 26, 2014

I'd think some journalism student could write a thesis on this media episode. I just don't think it will come from a SDSU student with the Jacobs connection to that school.

Oct. 26, 2014

MichaelValentine: Yes, a Master's thesis or PhD dissertation on the conning of the San Diego press in the Filner episode would be quite fascinating. Steve Erie of UCSD is thinking about writing a book on the lynching. Best, Don Bauder

Oct. 26, 2014

Whether the reporting of the news has been tilted in one direction or another has been debated from the time of Franklin, if not earlier. There's no doubt in my mind today's verison of "journalism" is demonstrably slanted by those who profess repeatedly and loudly to be impartial. This bias in news reporting is one of the factors causing the demise of print media as few regard what they publish to be factual news free of opinion. The UT under the current ownership is little more than one big OP/Ed ..with a football cheer section and that's why there is a ever dwindling number of subscribers.

Oct. 25, 2014

For a very long time, it was sports coverage that kept many males reading daily newspapers. But many of them read only the sports section, and discarded the remainder of the package. Sports was fun stuff whereas the real news was generally depressing.

But now, with this ESPN coverage on multiple channels and going 24/7, the sports fanatic can get his fix from the boob tube. There was a time when, because the paper was landing on the doorstep every day, many households were made aware of such things as the latest gaffes on the part of their city councils, cops, school districts, etc. But the decline has meant that putting real reporters out on the streets to gather mundane local news was one of the first things to suffer. International reporting is now the province of a couple news services, and national coverage is about the same. Small papers always depended on them for coverage, but now even the largest papers seem to buy news from each other. So, I suspect that some papers that are still trying to do a good job cannot afford the expense, and so we all suffer from a dearth of reporting of news that really does affect us and our lives.

Oct. 25, 2014

Visduh: I agree that sports coverage kept many males reading newspapers. Why do you think newspapers almost invariably support taxpayer subsidization of a sports stadium for a billionaire's team? It's money in the paper's pocket.

You are absolutely right that ESPN and other sports media, both on the tube and online, have taken huge market shares from newspapers. You are also correct that newspapers are no longer sending a sufficient number of reporters out to cover city councils, schools, etc. However, look at the new owner of the Orange County Register. He hired reporters to provide more coverage and it didn't work. Best, Don Bauder

Oct. 25, 2014

JustWondering: As one who spent 30 years at the U-T, and in total has spent 54 years in media (not including college and grad school), I have to put in a word here. Yes, the blatant slanting of news under Manchester is probably a factor in the circulation decline. But the U-T under Copley ownership was slanted, too, although not as overtly, and had a larger market share.

The big thing that happened to the U-T, and to other metro dailies, is competition. There are a plethora of deliverers of news and opinion on the Internet. Daily newspapers have increased their Internet presence, but haven't been able to make it very profitable. Businesses like Craigslist hurt newspapers by taking away the profitable want ad business.

Daily newspapers are too late with too little. You get the newspaper delivered to your door in the morning and read something you saw the night before on TV or online. There are many other factors.

Fox has proved that the news can be very slanted profitably. The major factor killing metro dailies is the time and form in which the information is delivered. Best, Don Bauder

Oct. 25, 2014

The U-T is about as fair and balanced as Fox News. I doubt that there is a reporter on the staff that is allowed to report the facts or do an in depth article if it does not tilt to the right.

Oct. 25, 2014

AlexClarke: There are some very good reporters on the U-T. They try to report the news accurately. But they have to think of their own economic security, too.

I think the firing of sports columnist Tim Sullivan was a watershed event at the U-T. Lynch announced upon taking over that anybody covering the issue of a downtown stadium for the Chargers had to be in favor of it. Sullivan, while not really opposing the stadium subsidization, wrote some very thoughtful columns that considered both sides. He was fired. That was quite sobering to people on the staff.

Manchester announced that the paper should be a cheerleader for business and the military. He was telling reporters and columnists that they had to be publicists, not balanced journalists, in covering those two areas. Such messages always get through. Best, Don Bauder

Oct. 25, 2014

Christopher Carmichael: I had a belly laugh over the U-T's coverage of that Austin hotel. Among many things, there was no mention whatever that the groundbreaking of this hotel has been delayed for a number of months, and the last I heard, it has been downsized. Best, Don Bauder

Oct. 25, 2014

Don: As I asked on the U-T website, how much TOT revenue will be generated for San Diego for a hotel in Austin? Perhaps Dougie should just print a large banner and have a plane tow it around San Diego saying, "I am building a hotel in Austin". Who the hell (except for Dougie) really cares?

Oct. 25, 2014

aardvark: As the Reader has reported several times, there is a looming glut of hotel space in Austin. New hotels will be going into operation before Manchester's will. This has probably affected his ability to get financing and is a major factor in the delay of the building. At least initially, Manchester is likely to find that his Austin hotel has the same problem the daily newspaper business has: too late with too little.

Then there is Manchester's Grand Del Mar hotel. How is it doing? Experts in the hotel business doubt it is doing well, and we chase down such reports regularly. Best, Don Bauder

Oct. 26, 2014

The most important political problem facing us today is if the republicans takeover the Senate, as well as continue control over the House and SCOTUS, the future of American Democracy will be in as grave jeopardy as it was in Revolutionary and Civil Wars, and WWII.

Right now, the democrats aren't doing a good job of waking America up to this fact of life.

Oct. 25, 2014

Anon92107 that's nonsense...absolute utter nonsense. And it has nothing to do with the circulation numbers of Manchester's U~T either.

Oct. 25, 2014

JustWondering: More bad Supreme Court appointments could be a disaster. Citizens United is bad enough. But it could get worse. Best, Don Bauder

Oct. 25, 2014

Don, of increasing threats are the facts that SCOTUS is overthrowing voting and civil rights while the GOP continues to deny equal rights to women.

If the GOP and SCOTUS continue to be successful in overthrowing American Democracy then we shall head back toward Athenian Oligarchies controlled by the likes of the Koch Bros. with a Wal-Mart southern plantation economy and only men allowed to vote.

Oct. 26, 2014

Anon92107: I agree that SCOTUS is overthrowing voting and civil rights. Best, Don Bauder

Oct. 26, 2014

I think you can lay the blame for SCOTUS on Reagan and Bush. Even were a Justice to drop dead, there won't be a new Justice. No nominee will make it out of the Senate during the term of the current POTUS.

Oct. 26, 2014

danfogel: Put the blame on Reagan and on both Bushes. Best, Don Bauder

Oct. 26, 2014

Anon92107: Democratic candidates are running away from Obama and Obamacare. On balance, both have been successful. Part of the problem is that the media are controlled by a handful of companies. Best, Don Bauder

Oct. 25, 2014

Propagandists like the GOP, Murdoch and Manchester remind one of Orwell's "1984" and they appear to be establishing a Ministry of Truth at last.

Oct. 26, 2014

Anon92107: The name George Orwell comes up in many conversations these days. In many respects, that classic book was prescient. Best, Don Bauder

Oct. 26, 2014

OOPS! Don I regret pressing the "Suggest removal" instead of "1 reply" by mistake, but I had already read it and Orwell was indeed prescient and history keeps repeating itself in ever more destructive ways as Washington gets further and further out of touch with We The People and the power of money and propaganda overthrow one more democracy.

Oct. 26, 2014

Anon92107: Runaway greed is one of our biggest enemies. Corporations used to care about their employees, communities, and vendors, as well as the environment. Now the only thing they think about is next quarter's profits -- and they often achieve their goals by rigging the accounting. Best, Don Bauder

Oct. 26, 2014

I would agree that on balance that the Affordable Care Act has been successful. However, in my opinion, to say that Obama's performance has been a success is an overstatement. The best that I can muster is to say at least we didn't end up with either of the other guys.

Oct. 26, 2014

danfogel: Given the fact that Congress fought him on everything, blindly opposing anything he proposed, I think Obama has done a reasonably good job. He used what power he had ably, in my opinion. Best, Don Bauder

Oct. 26, 2014

This is the strangest article I have read in a long time. It makes me simultaneously very happy and completely depressed.

I hope that the UT dies a quick but painful death (at least financially painful for the owner and publisher), and out of its ashes comes a renewed Union-Tribune, owned and operated by someone other than the current pack of idiots.

But make no mistake, if the UT dies there should be a murder investigation, and Doug Manchester is the sole suspect.

Oct. 26, 2014

badcyclist: In the mid-2000s, metro dailies had a quick and painful plunge. Many of the major ones went bankrupt, but are still operating, and few actually went out of business. If Burnham and his crew take over, I think you will see the number of editions each week cut -- say, to three or four print editions a week, as the paper concentrates on its online version. But I don't know whether the online edition will succeed much more than the current one, even if it becomes less of a propaganda organ.

Manchester won't be solely to blame. What's happening to the U-T financially is happening to metro dailies all over the country. Some small weeklies and dailies (often rural) are doing OK, but few are doing great.

Print journalism will die a very, very slow death and the final survivors will probably be publications like The National Enquirer and People Magazine, and also reputable dailies such as the Wall Street Journal and New York Times, although both will increasingly move more online.

On the other hand, if the Internet blows up, print may come back rapidly. Best, Don Bauder

Oct. 26, 2014

Don, one more update on Orwell's "1984" is that he warned us of the danger that "Big Brother Is Watching" and today we are actually choosing to buy TVs and PCs that can watch us while we also carry around sensors in our pockets that track us everywhere we go!

Instead of Us/Them it is Like/Dislike with deranged rants against each other on public display. What revolting developments we are allowing to be used against ourselves, only difference is 1984 is 2014.

Oct. 27, 2014

Anon92107: "Big Brother Is Watching" certainly has come true. Witness the National Security Agency. Best, Don Bauder

Oct. 27, 2014

William Lyons: You can be certain Carmichael doesn't have a copyright on that. So --- use it. Best, Don Bauder

Oct. 27, 2014

Newspapers are simply an obsolete medium.

But I do get a kick out of the people who use this as yet another excuse to bash Republicans in this Democrat-majority state. "We have to end extremism, let's shut up everyone we disagree with and replace them with people who'll parrot the party line!" Congratulations, look in the mirror... YOU'RE what's wrong with this country.

Oct. 27, 2014

jnojr: Newspapers are not an obsolete medium -- at least yet. Metro daily newspapers are falling, and have been for some time. Unless the Internet goes haywire, someday metro dailies will be obsolete, but that is several decades and possibly generations away, in all probability. Rural and mid-size city dailies and weeklies that don't have Internet competition are surviving -- some doing very well, others fairly well, still others not so well.

We can agree on one thing: newspapers are hurting, generally speaking, with some exceptions, such as in the boondocks. Best, Don Bauder

Oct. 27, 2014

Don, I'm getting DeMaio phone calls that sound exactly like deranged U-T Editorials, proving beyond all doubt that the GOP writes them and/or the U-T EdBd members are GOP sycophants with no integrity at all anymore.

Oct. 27, 2014

Anon92107: I don't think deranged phone calls prove that the Republicans are writing U-T editorials. It's certainly possible that DeMaio staffers wrote a U-T editorial, but there isn't proof of it yet. Best, Don Bauder

Oct. 27, 2014

Whatever Don, this 52nd congressional district race looks like a final chapter in the decline and fall of another democracy.

We have come full circle returning to the Ancient Athenian, original democracy days of Solon, sophists and oligarchs.

If the GOP and their SCOTUS vassals win control over the senate as well as the house, far fewer people will care to vote anymore and far fewer will be eligible to vote as the new oligarchs takeover one last time.

We never learn the lessons of history, time is no longer on our side and the democratic party is feckless.

Oct. 28, 2014

Anon92107: The Democratic Party today reminds me of the Republican Party of the 1940s-1960s period. Then, the Republicans basically offered programs that were watered-down versions of what the Democrats, who had enormous control at the local, state, and national levels, offered.

Today, the Democrats often come up with a plan that is similar to what the Republicans offer. Hillary Clinton and Bill Clinton before her lead the middle-of-the-road Democrats. Progressive Democrats are a minority. But in the Republican Party, middle-of-the-road moderates have lost out to the arch-conservative or Tea Party wing. Best, Don Bauder

Oct. 29, 2014

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