U-T San Diego circulation continues its downspiral, according to data released this morning (Oct. 28) by the Alliance for Audited Media (formerly the Audit Bureau of Circulations).
Total average Sunday circulation for the six months ended September 30 was 334,723, down from 381,303 for the six months ended September 30 of last year. Average Monday-Friday circulation was 203,795, down from 222,541 for the six months ended September 31 of 2013 and from 212,746 for the six months ended March 31 of this year.
These data include digital and branded editions. That's why they appear up from what the U-T reported this month in its annual statement to the United States Postal Service. In that report, the seven-day average annual circulation, including Sunday, for the paper was 182,083, down from 189,822 in 2013. These postal service data relate to the print edition and don't include digital and branded circulation; they only count papers that were actually distributed, not simply printed.
On March 31 of this year, the Alliance for Audited Media reported circulation by day. In today's Alliance report, U-T was down every weekday except Friday. For the six months ended September 31 of this year, Monday circulation dropped to 183,456 from 196,062 in the spring six months; Tuesday was 177,885, down from 182,516; Wednesday was 181,017, down from 192,751, and Thursday was 229,481, down from 249,201. Friday was 247,140, up from 243,201.
The Alliance for Audited Media has made changes, and in today's report does not compare current data with figures from the previous year, as it formerly did. The Alliance recommends that no such comparisons be made. However, I am making comparisons with the six months ended September 30 of last year and the six months ended March 31 of this year, on the ground that whatever changes the Alliance made almost certainly favor the industry.
For example, earlier, the Alliance ruled that a newspaper sold for one penny counts as paid circulation. This permits a newspaper to sell a bundle of papers to, say, a church, for a penny each. The church then sells the paper to parishioners for the normal price and pockets the difference as contributions, permitting the paper to report bloated circulation. The U-T has employed this gimmick.
It is clear that the Alliance and the newspaper industry do not want the industry-wide circulation decline publicized. This is disappointing for an industry that theoretically pledges to disseminate facts.