As circulation numbers drop, will dailies become weeklies?

by Jason Preston on October 30, 2008

Recent reports show newspaper circulation numbers continuing to drop across the board (excepting, as usual, USA Today and the Wall Street Journal).

From a layman’s perspective, this is largely because the print newspaper gives me:

  • old news
  • for too much money

In response to dwindling circulation, the Christian Science Monitor is betting on the internet and cutting it’s daily print product. I’m sure it won’t be the last daily paper to switch to a weekly format.

Many other newspaper companies will be keeping a close eye on this move to see how well it works.

Putting the paper online and building in a 24-hour news cycle will certainly solve the “old news,” problem, but the real challenge will be to pay for it without charging online readers.

I doubt that the print ad revenue from the weekly edition (which, by the way, I think will actually go up in circulation) will make up for the revenue gap they’ll have from running the paper online.


1 Peter 11.01.08 at 11:18 pm

We just cancelled our subscription to the Seattle Times Sunday only. We had been subscribed under a promotional rate, but, that has expired and they won’t keep us subscribed at that rate. It’s just too damn expensive to keep.

2 Jason Preston 11.05.08 at 11:19 am

Peter – Many newspapers are starting to experiment with raising the cost of their subscription (let’s see how much we can milk our subscriber base!) but I think that has the opposite of their desired effect – more papers need to lower their subscription cost so they can raise circulation.

Either way you’re going to lose some money, but one way you get hit twice (lose circ, lose ad revenue) and the other way you only get hit once (lose some circ revenue, gain circ numbers, gain ad revenue).

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