“The trilling wire in the blood/sings
below inveterate scars/appeasing long-forgotten wars.” –T.S.
Elliot’s Four Quartets
Some would say local interest is high for the audited
circulation figures for the Santa Barbara News-Press, due
out October 30. The N-P, like virtually all dailies in the
United States, has had declining numbers since 2004 — and has been
claiming a daily circulation of 41,000 in each of their many press
releases since July 6. But the accurate figures are more
The last reported figures for News-Press circulation,
as of March 31, 2006, reveal a Total Average Paid Circulation of
42,375 Sunday, 42,145 Monday through Friday. Buried within those
two impressive numbers, there is a component labeled “Other Paid
Circulation,” which for the N-P is 4,505 Mon-Fri, and
1,551 Sunday. These are copies sold in bulk to hotels, employee
programs, schools, and other third party sponsors.
Advertisers have recently come to realize a great deal of
“padding” could be obtained via these seemingly worthy distribution
outlets. As such, from the September 19 edition of Editor and
“While these techniques are not outright fraud
as the  misstatements of circulation figures were, we felt
aggressive use of some of these lower-quality techniques would
signal a problem with circulation and would therefore pose future
risk to advertising rate stability,” wrote analysts in the study.
[The study referenced is by Prudential Equity Research of the
top 50 papers in the U.S. ]
If national trends are any indication, A Local Daily
will have little justification to initiate its
annual rate increase, in spite of the “setting
the record straight” realpolitick of A Local Blonde during the
height of the N-P diaspora.
Virtually all the big players on the national daily newspaper
scene are going to take a hit on circulation, according to
E&P’s early look at the Audit Bureau of Circulations
Earlier this week, E&P reported
that overall circulation data for the upcoming FAS-FAX are trending
much like past reporting periods, with industry sources expecting
daily down 2.5% and Sunday down 3%, and some major metros are
reporting record losses. Now we have the actual numbers for several
I venture few of those national papers had a city wide effort to
cancel their subscriptions, or citizen protests outside their
offices to add to the Diminishment of the Daily paper.
And from an E&P story on the 2005 Prudential
In the most recent study, Prudential found
that other paid circulation, which is comprised of hotel,
newspapers-in-education (NIE), employee, and third-party sales
copies, was up 6.9%. As a contrast, for the period ending September
2004, other-paid circulation was up 34.2%.
However, the report notes that even though there’s a reduction
in the reliance in other paid circ, the category is still “stemming
the losses in home delivery and single-copy sales.”Overall, total daily circ decreased 2.7% in March when compared
to the same period last year. Home delivered copies dropped 2.7%.
Discounted copies were up 85%. Single-copy sales slipped 7.1%. This
category acts as a barometer for the health of the industry because
“it’s the most basic example of a consumer actively seeking out the
newspaper,” the report said.
It must be said that giving away papers ain’t no bad thing; for
the past 20 years The Independent has pioneered that
concept in Santa Barbara. As the foundation of our economic
viability, our company has treated free circulation seriously,
subscribing to a VAC,
an independent auditing company for the same amount of time. We are
the only audited freebie in town.
Keeping accurate track of numbers has eluded
A Local Daily paper for quite some time, in spite of the
historical record [a great place to begin is
here, for an exhaustive examination of the N-P
antecedents], as evidenced by the erroneous tagline on the front
page Banner, “Our 151st Year.” The origin of what is now called the
“Santa Barbara News-Press” properly begins October 20, 2000.
Contest: Everyone In the Pool! My pick for the
final audit number (this will be the total number for Santa
Barbara, Goleta, Carp, Montecito, Summerland, Buellton/Santa Ynez,
The reader’s entry closest to the actual
total will win a cool prize, and be memorialized in some nifty, as
yet undetermined fashion — probably not a subscription to A
Local Daily. Contest ends October 29, 12 am (or when the
actual results are made public).
The name of this piece
is: Lest any unsuspecting SBMB reader wrongly consider
Club Reporter a verse-spouting repository of all things
culture‘d, I just happen to love the eponymous
BBC America series, starring the ab fab Robson Green. And the
quote is apt.