Projo’s Sunday circulation slumps 10%; owner loses $8M

Projo_Sunday_circ_3-31-2013The Providence Journal’s Sunday print circulation fell 10% during the six months ended March 31, figures released Tuesday showed, as the newspaper’s parent company reported a first-quarter loss of $8 million.

The Journal’s print circulation on Sundays – the most lucrative edition of the week for most papers – totaled 109,516 copies, down by 12,763 since March 2012, the Alliance for Audited Media (formerly the Audit Bureau of Circulations) reported Tuesday morning.

The Projo sold an average of 79,244 traditional print editions on weekdays between Oct. 1 and March 31, a decrease of 6,252 from a year earlier and 45% fewer than in September 2007.

Saturday circulation dipped below 100,000 for the first time, falling by 10,484 to 98,651. Weekday circulation fell below 100,000 for the first time in 2010. The overall pace of circulation loss has slowed since 2009-10, when the annual rate of decline on Sundays peaked at 17%.

The Journal reported just under 2,000 subscriptions to its electronic edition in the October-March period, with 1,888 on Sundays, 1,880 on Saturdays and 1,877 on weekdays. had 1.05 million unique visitors as of March 31, down from 1.2 million in the six months ended Sept. 30.

The Journal said its total average weekly circulation was 109,497 when “branded editions” are added, which includes its free Journal Express publication, published on Thursdays in a limited number of municipalities. The audit group changed its rules in 2011 to count branded editions.

Like most newspapers, The Providence Journal has been losing print readers for decades. According to audit records, The Journal’s average weekday circulation has plunged by more than half over the past quarter-century, from 203,647 in 1990 and 163,122 in 2000 to 101,123 in 2010 and 79,244 this year.

As of this week The Journal’s newsroom is under new leadership: Karen Bordeleau succeeded Thomas Heslin on Monday as the newspaper’s senior vice president and executive editor. Heslin, who had been on medical leave, retired for health reasons after four and a half years at the helm.

The Journal’s annual revenue was $94 million in 2012, down just 1% from the previous year, thanks to ongoing growth in the company’s outside printing and distribution work. The paper’s advertising revenue has fallen 66% since 2005, according to regulatory filings.

The Journal’s Dallas-based parent company A.H. Belo on Monday posted a net loss of $8.1 million for the three months ended March 31, worse than the $3.9 million it lost in the same quarter a year earlier. Total revenue at the company’s three newspapers – The Dallas Morning News, The Journal and California’s Press-Enterprise – fell 5% to $99.3 million.

“We are very pleased with the advertising and total revenue performance in Dallas, which was on plan despite a challenging start to the year,” A.H. Belo CEO Robert Decherd said in a statement. The company said “improvements at The Dallas Morning News were more than offset by declines at The Providence Journal and The Press-Enterprise.”

No other Rhode Island newspaper reported its circulation to the audit group.

In Massachusetts, The Sun Chronicle sold 13,893 print editions on Sundays and 13,061 on weekdays, plus 293 electronic editions, during the six months ended March 31. The Sun Chronicle’s Sunday circulation is down 23% since March 2009.

The New Bedford Standard-Times sold 21,770 print copies plus 636 e-editions on Sundays and 19,480 print copies plus 892 e-editions Monday through Saturday. The Standard-Times’ Sunday circulation is down 26% since March 2009. Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp., which owns The Standard-Times and its sister Dow Jones Local Media Group papers, is reportedly looking to sell them.

The Fall River Herald News sold 14,443 copies on Sundays and 12,865 copies on weekdays, plus 1,609 e-editions across the week. The Herald News’ Sunday circulation is down 25% since March 2009.

The Taunton Gazette sold 6,463 print copies plus 50 e-editions on Sundays and 5,825 print copies plus 125 e-editions Monday through Saturday. The Gazette’s Sunday circulation is down 22% since March 2009.

The Wall Street Journal continued to be the most-read daily U.S. newspaper through March 31, with an average circulation of 2.4 million, the audit group said. The WSJ was followed by The New York Times (1.9 million), USA Today (1.7 million), the Los Angeles Times (653,868) and the New York Daily News (516,165).

The Boston Globe ranked 24th on the most-read list, with an average weekday circulation of 245,572, including 73,524 digital editions. The Globe’s average Sunday circulation was 382,452, including 72,681 digital editions.

More coverage of The Providence Journal on Nesi’s Notes:

28 thoughts on “Projo’s Sunday circulation slumps 10%; owner loses $8M

  1. What the problem is there is nothing to read in Projo anymore. Even years ago it was not a satisfying read on a Sunday Morning. We gave up getting the paper about 9 years ago. I grew up reading the newspaper. Give me a copy of The Wall Street Journal, The Investors Business Daily, The Washtington Post, even The New York Post is fun to read. The Providence Journal has so much government fodder but they won’t go after the stories. The New York Times and Washington Post do more pieces of fraud waste and abuse in Rhode Island than the Projo.

  2. I beg to differ, Matt. If you were a subscriber, you would have been able to follow the Institute for Sports fiasco, the unraveling of Studio 38, the turnaround in Central Falls, the fabulous ReInvent RI series, the public pension crisis, and plenty of topics. A new series exploring how technology has changed our lives, our brains and our professions just started Sunday. You ought to check it out. Though the Journal can no longer cover the state, like it did in the old days, it does what it does more competently than any other local media.
    I agree with you and the young child in the AT&T ad who says, “We want more; We want more.” Well, the only way to get “more” is for you and thousands of other Rhode Islanders to re-subscribe and support a newspaper that has been covering Rhode Island’s trials and tribulations for nearly 200 years. The paper has your best interests in mind – I know; I worked there for 45 challenging and wonderful years.
    Carol Young

    • Carol, I don’t keep buying a crappy product. I have to agree with Matt. He stated government fodder. Your paper never brought out a story where we had a Budd Dwyer Incident. I want to see some of our elected officals blow their brains out in a public setting because they know they are going to be convicted.

    • Who did the report about the fraud waste and abuse in the SNAP program in Rhode Island? The Washington Post. Their article went into detail about the issues. Your company is afraid to dig in and get dirty.

  3. yes, they covered the pension crisis but it was all one-sided.
    they try to shape public opinion along their own interests and views, instead of giving us straight news.
    Who wants to Pay for that?

    • B, I can assure you that the reporters have much more integrity than to do what you say.

      The stories aren’t written by management. How can you say that they’re trying to ‘shape public opinion’?

      Were we reading the same story?

      I think not.

  4. Projo has decided to Exclude a large segment of Readers by relying solely on Facebook usage as a qualifier to add comments on their webpage.
    Those of us who refuse to use Facebook are thereby excluded from commenting.
    –That tells me they do not want my dollar.

  5. As a former longtime advertiser in The ProJo, I lost total respect for the newspaper when it transfered its promotion department to its janitorial staff. Also, in doing they so, the newspaper’s management showed no respect for my company which was involved in a cross-promotion with them at the time. My contact in their promotion dept simply vanished with no explanation. Not one person in ProJo management called me to inform me what happened. I had to practically beg my ProJo ad rep learn the truth. The cross-promotion was off, and so was my business with the ProJo. That newspaper has my “best interests in mind?” Don’t think so!

      • Nice try Jeanne, if that in fact that is your real name. I should put my name up so the desperate ProJo advertising department can beg me (for about the 20th time) for my business back. Here’s a novel idea if you work for the newspaper. Why not check back into what advertisers resigned their accounts in 2011? Then you’ll know who I am. Oh wait, that’s not fair for you. There surely were more companies than just me that dropped out back then. How would you know which company was mine? Courage? Where was Journal management’s courage to tell me that my cross-promotion was off and my contact was exiled…for goodness sake? I had to practically water-board my Journal sales rep to get the truth!

    • Dear “Former Advertiser” Since we know you are not really a “former advertiser and we all know who you are, so if you don’t like the janitorial department, go out and get a job with all your degrees! If not then keep your mouth shut and CLEAN. Stop causing trouble.

      • Dear “Longtime Employee” probably soon to be laid off. You don’t know who I am, so stop pretending too. I don’t work for the Journal and I’d never want to. I really feel sorry for you. But instead of conducting a witch hunt, why not try to drum up some more subscribers and advertisers. Clearly, your newspaper needs them!

  6. $520 a year for a full subscription – it’s not worth it anymore.

    Many days now it looks like a flyer someone left on your windshield.

  7. The Journal’s sad, slow decline has been painful to watch. It might have been preventable, but it is probably too late now.

    • yes the old families that owned it, should have kept it, made some moderate changes, and RI would have been much better off… Texas will NEVER understand quirky RI!!!

  8. If you look at the subscription rate as $10 a week, you’d realize that you spend more than that on donuts, cable, beer, Starbucks, movies, etc. Where else can you get something at your doorstep every single day of the year that carries information you need to be an informed voter and an informed citizen. Where else can you find information on who has died, how a legislator voted, who has been robbed, business expansions and business layoffs, movie reviews and the best Food section in America.
    I applaud the requirement that Facebook be the conduit for commentary because it forces people to at least be accountable for their opinions.

    • Best food section in the country. You have to be kidding!! Do an article and column about the Rhode Island board of health not inspecting eateries every three to four months as suggested by the CDC. Do an investigative piece why unsanitary restaurants are not forced to close for 10 days and clean up their act. Your company is afraid of losing advertisers. Until you start bringing the bad and nailing the criminals nothing is going to change. I give your company until 2015 then they will be out of business.

      • Ed, the stories you mention would be in main news not food.

        I agree with Carol, ProJo has the best food section I’ve ever seen.

      • How about run a column of all the restaurants inspected for the week ending on Thursday? Any restaurant inspected the previous Thursday ending on the Wednesday is listed in the food section. This way people know what restaurants to avoid. It also sends a message to restaurants clean up your act or your health inspection report will be read by the public. Other cities lsit the negative reports of dirty restaurants. It make the inspectors job easier, stop bribes and get businesses to act more ethically.

  9. And the answer to your question is: I can get all the “information” I need right at my fingertips from a wide variety of sources. And by the way, I saw that the ProJo movie critic retired. Is he being replaced? No disrespect (and as a former ProJo advertiser I got my share of that from the paper), but anybody who is retired from the ProJo should be thankful they made it to that point before getting laid off or transferred to the janitorial staff.

  10. Yes, now you know who the commenters are, for the most part, although some are using an alias on their facebook account…
    but any response you get is skewed by being limited to Facebook users, and therefore not a full sampling of readers, which would be more interesting and informative.

  11. Carol, you were one of bosses for a while and I loved working for you. But please stop commenting here. I know you are trying to help us and the newspaper but it’s doing more harm than good with all our dirty laundry being dragged out by other commenters. It’s a beautiful day. Go do some gardening. And for the record “Former Advertiser,” two people from two other departments have also had to “bump” into our cleaning staff; not just your former contact in the promotion department.

  12. From seeing the inappropriate cover photo of this morning’s projo displayed in stores for ALL eyes to see–especially kids, showing Fox kissing his partner was the icing on the cake for me and that rag. SHAME on them for doing so!

    I hope the entire paper goes belly up having such a thing on the cover of their paper. It was totally irresponsible and tasteless.

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