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Newspaper circulation drops again -- but rate of decline slows

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Circulation numbers for the nation's largest 25 newspapers continued tumbling in the latest report from the Audit Bureau of Circulations.  The good news? The rate of decline wasn't as severe as in the last report.

ABC numbers, as reported by the industry journal Editor & Publisher, show:

Average weekday circulation fell 8.7 percent in the six months that ended March 31, compared with the same period a year earlier. From April through September of last year,  average weekday circulation dropped 10.6 percent from the year before.

Sunday circulation fell 6.5 percent in the six months that ended March 31, compared with the same period a year before. Last reporting period, Sunday circulation fell 10.6 percent from the year before.

At the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Sunday circulation -- now 400,042 -- declined 3.8 percent, a stronger performance than most of the 25 largest papers.  The Post-Dispatch’s weekday circulation -- now 209,838 -- fell at a steeper rate — 12 percent — than the industry average.

An article appearing on Tuesday's Business page notes that "newspaper companies are finding a robust audience online."  The article reports:

The Post-Dispatch’s website — STLtoday.com — has averaged about 53 million page views and 3.2 million unique visitors per month since April 2009.  During the previous year, the newspaper averaged 46 million page views and 2.6 million unique visitors per month, according to Omniture SiteCatalyst.

Associated Press Business Writer Andrew Vanacore reports:

In a way, the new circulation figures mirror the industry's advertising trends. While most major newspapers continue to see ad revenue decline compared with year-ago figures, the drop is becoming less extreme. Newspapers are getting some help from easy comparisons — they are holding their latest ad numbers up to results from the depths of the recession — but economic improvement is also starting to restore advertising budgets.
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