Richard Tofel, writing for medium.com, has come up with some shocking numbers on print newspaper circulation. Tofel, general manager of the investigative organization ProPublica and a former vice president of Dow Jones, has dug into newspaper weekday circulation numbers put together by the Alliance for Audited Media, showing "individually paid circulation," or the number of papers being bought by subscription or at newsstands.
The Union-Tribune figure is merely 117,000 for September of 2015, Tofel reports. That compares with 193,000 for March of 2013, the last time newspaper circulation figures were widely reported. Tofel concedes that the 2013 and 2015 numbers are not exactly comparable because the 2013 numbers are "total average print circulation." But the numbers show significant declines.
In 1999, the U-T had a campaign to lift daily circulation to 400,000 from 381,256; that 381,256 number was inflated, but it wasn't wildly bloated. (I was a columnist there at the time and knew some of the tricks the paper pulled.)
Tofel shows USA Today plunging from 1.4 million in 2013 to 299,000 in September of last year.