Newspaper Circulation Decline Slower in Northwest Arkansas Than National Average

(Charts: Click to see five-year comparison charts of circulation numbers for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette and The Morning News in northwest Arkansas.)

Total average paid circulation of Sunday newspapers as of March 31 in northwest Arkansas was about 83,147, according to the Audit Bureau of Circulations.

Of that number, 53 percent (or about 44,200 copies) were the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette’s Sunday edition. The remainder were The Morning News of Northwest Arkansas.

The northwest Arkansas total was down 1.75 percent from 2005 and down almost 3 percent from a five-year high in 2007 when there was a combined average paid circulation of 85,625 Sunday papers in the market.

The News lost 2.8 percent of its Sunday circulation over the five-year period; the AD-G’s five-year loss was less than 1 percent. The decrease was measured against newspapers with paid circulation for the 12 months ending March 31.

Weekday Newspapers Also Down

Average paid circulation of weekday papers (which the ABC defines as a combined average of Monday through Friday) as of March 31 was 68,543 newspapers.

About 37,000 of those were the AD-G’s, or 54 percent of the market share. Overall, daily circulation at both papers was down a combined 1.26 percent over the five-year period, but the AD-G clearly gained market share during that time.

Average daily paid circulation for the paper’s northwest designated market area – which is for Benton, Carroll, Madison and Washington counties – grew almost 6 percent while the News lost about 8.5 percent in its five-county DMA.

Steve Austin, circulation manager for the Morning News, said his paper began including McDonald County, Mo. in its DMA in February 2004, but dropped home delivery in the county in the spring of this year. The News still counts its mailed subscriptions on Saturday and Sunday to McDonald County and it still fills “a few” honor boxes there, he said.

National Averages Worse

Newspapers in northwest Arkansas have fared better than those in the rest of the country. According to Editor and Publisher magazine, total U.S. average paid circulation for Sunday papers was down more than 11 percent between 2005 and 2008, and about 9 percent for daily papers for that four-year period.

Other news organizations reported in April that average daily circulation of U.S. newspapers was down 7 percent for the six-month period ending March 31.

Statewide, daily circulation of the AD-G fell 3.9 percent to 169,458 as of Sept. 30, the paper said Tuesday. The decline is compared to the same period a year earlier and the numbers are unaudited.

The Northwest Arkansas Business Journal annually reports the AD-G’s statewide circulation numbers from its audited reports.

According to the March 31 report, the paper had daily circulation of 178,273, down just more than 1 percent from a year prior.

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