After a phone call with Jennifer Saba - the following correction is now on Editor and Publisher:
* An earlier version of this story incorrectly reported the Los Angeles Times' daily circulation decline to be 6.5%. The higher number arose from an erroneous comparison of earlier Monday-Saturday numbers to the paper's current Monday-Friday figure. The correct weekday circulation decline is 3.7%.
Now this still leave some questions. We now have the new circulation figure number- but what was the old circulation figure for Monday through Saturday? And how can we find a new Monday to Friday figure to see what size that decline in? Has there been any change in the calcuations from past reporting periods?
And why does the LAT's publisher and news desk have two different circulation figures?
Curious bloggers want to know. Below is my original post:
Now I know there has to be SOME explanation for why none of the figures for the LA Times circulation make sense or why everyone seems to have different versions of the same numbers. To give you just one idea how screwed up this all is, here are two links to Editor and Publisher:
New FAS-FAX Report Brings More Circ Declines
By Jennifer Saba Published: November 07, 2005 8:14 AM ET
NEW YORK The March FAS-FAX set off landmines with reports of steep declines at many papers, most prominently some top Tribune Co. properties. The September numbers are not much more encouraging.Here are some specifics from the new FAS-FAX report -- released at 8 a.m. Monday -- compared to September 2004:
The San Francisco Chronicle's daily circ is down 16.5% to 400,906 copies, a huge drop. Sunday circulation fell 13.5% to 467,216. The Los Angeles Times is down about 6.5% to 843,432 daily copies. On Sunday the paper reported a decrease of roughly 3.4% to 1,247,588 copies.
Now the first page says the LA Times has a 6.5% yearly decline. But click on the 20 largest papers link on that same page and....
And it appears, these numbers may be... again, may be... for prior six months - and not the prior year.
Top 20 Papers By Circulation, According to New FAS-FAX By E&P Staff Published: November 07, 2005 11:11 AM ET
NEW YORK The numbers are in, and they're not good. Eighteen out of the top 20 papers reported weekday circulation losses in the most recent FAS-FAX report, including sharp drops at the San Francisco Chronicle (-16.58%) and the Boston Globe (-8.25%). Below are average weekday circulation (Table 1) and Sunday circulation (Table 2) figures of America's 20 biggest newspapers for the six-month period ended Sept. 30, as reported Monday by the Audit Bureau of Circulations.Average Weekday Circulation
septa. 2005 circa
Los Angeles Times 843,432 -33,184 -3.79%
Here the LA Times - suddenly - has gone from a 6.5% drop to 3.79% drop and a loss of only 33,000 subscribers. Neither of which is true. First, every other newspaper on both lists - has the same percentage drop on each page - except for the LA Times. Ergo - these must be the same numbers and time period on each page. But why, then, does the LAT's decline, dramatically decline here and yet no other paper's rate does so?
Clearly, this number - or some number - must be wrong. The other oddity is the 33,000 drop in readers. Odd because - it ain't so if you read the raw numbers that are given! Below are the previous six month numbers of the last two years from that same survey as found on the LA Times website with the exception of one correction they have never made. These are the average six month figures for the following weekday time periods:
March 2005 - September 2005 843,432
September 2004 - March 2005 907,997
March 2004 - September 2004 902,164
September 2003 - March 2004 970,802
(now the Times once claimed 983,727 for that period, but it was later reduced by auditors to the lower figure)
First, clearly, in either the last six months - or in the last one year - the Times lost a hell of a lot more readers than 33,000 readers. In fact, 65,000 in the last six months.
Second, as for as the Time's claim that they were losing readers at half the rate they were in March....
I'd sure like to see how they calculated that. It seems as if they are taking daily averages in the month of September and measuring them against the month of March - or the six months ending at the March period. Zero real data is supplied, though.
But back in the real world, the percentage decline during the past six month was the highest of the four periods! A very slightly larger number of reader were lost in the first half year shown, but with lower number of current subscribers, the loss is greater now than ever before.
And that is even counting the fact that fewer and fewer of those the Times claims are subscribers - aren't really paying for the paper as I showed in my previous post.
And there is one last little detail. In both the prior two reporting periods, the Times said those declines came partially/largely from their having to remove from their subscription count, bulk sales and third party paid 'subscriptions'.
They no longer make that claim. So the Times is now saying that those, smaller drops, were due to the removal of non-paying customers. They no longer say make that claim, which means these new, larger losses are REAL subscribers walking away from the paper.
Then when you add in the Prudential reports that show that a larger and larger number of the LA Time's 'customers' are non-paying customers - the question thus needs to be asked is - is there anyone out there who is still paying for the LA Times?