Projo’s print circulation down another 7%; fewer visit website

The Providence Journal’s print circulation fell almost 7% during the six months ended March 31 as it sold fewer than 300 subscriptions to its new electronic edition.

The Journal sold an average of 85,496 traditional print copies on weekdays between Oct. 1 and March 31, a decrease of 6,311 from the same period a year earlier, the Audit Bureau of Circulations reported Tuesday.

The Journal said its total average weekly circulation was 114,013 when “branded editions” are included, which would include its free ProjoExpress publication. The Audit Bureau changed its rules in 2011 to count those.

The Projo’s print circulation on Sundays – the most lucrative edition of the week for most papers – totaled 122,279 copies, a drop of 8,380 since the March 2011 report. Saturday circulation fell by 7,676 copies, from 116,811 to 109,135.

ProvidenceJournal.com had 868,693 unique visitors as of March 31, down from 1.2 million for the old Projo.com in the six months ended Sept. 30, the Audit Bureau said. That echoes other estimates showing traffic down by about a third.

The paper replaced Projo.com last October with a new site, ProvidenceJournal.com, that features short news briefs and a digital replica of the print edition. The paper began charging for the e-edition on Feb. 28, partly in an effort to stem the loss of readers attracted by free news on the Web.

The Journal reported 273 e-edition subscriptions: 81 on weekdays, 94 on Saturdays and 98 on Sundays.

Like most newspapers, The Journal has been losing print readers for years, though the pace has picked up in recent years, Audit Bureau records show. Its average weekday circulation has fallen by more than half over the past two decades, totaling 203,647 in 1990, 163,122 in 2000, and 101,123 in 2010.

Other local newspapers also reported their latest circulation numbers for the half-year ended March 31 on Tuesday, and they were largely down across the board, though e-editions continued to show modest growth.

The Pawtucket Times’ weekday circulation totaled 4,332 and the Woonsocket Call’s totaled 5,999, the Audit Bureau said. The Pawtucket paper’s Saturday circulation totaled 6,315 and the Woonsocket paper’s Sunday circulation totaled 8,433.

In Massachusetts, The Sun Chronicle sold 14,035 copies on weekdays and 15,374 copies on Sundays, plus 47 electronic editions.

The Fall River Herald News sold 13,619 copies on weekdays and 15,419 on Sundays, plus 1,430 e-editions across the week. The New Bedford Standard-Times sold 20,334 print copies plus 1,248 e-editions on weekdays and 22,685 print copies plus 385 e-editions on Sundays.

The Taunton Gazette sold 6,182 print copies plus 521 e-editions on weekdays and 7,133 print copies plus 52 e-editions on Sundays.

The Wall Street Journal continued to be the most-read daily U.S. newspaper through March 31, with an average circulation of 2.1 million, the Audit Bureau said. It was followed by USA Today (1.8 million), The New York Times (1.6 million), the Los Angeles Times (616,575) and the New York Daily News (579,636).

The Boston Globe ranked 22nd on the most-read list for Sundays, with an average circulation of 365,512, including 33,304 digital editions.

• Related: Projo hit by 61% drop in advertising since ’05; digital declining (March 14)

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