A report from the Audit Bureau of Circulations confirms what many Santa Barbarans have known all along: the meltdown at the News-Press has scared away many formerly loyal readers, leading to perhaps the most dramatic drop in newspaper circulation anywhere in the country.

According to an article in Editor & Publisher, the ABC is reporting that the daily’s circulation plummeted 14.1 percent, to 33,755 subscribers, between March and September 2007. Sunday subscriptions are down at an even higher rate of 14.8 percent.

That news follows a similarly disastrous drop in subscriptions for the six-month period leading up to March 31, 2007, when the readership fell nearly 10 percent. Since the turmoil began in July 2006, the News-Press has lost nearly 10,000 subscribers, or about one quarter of their pre-meltdown readership.

Worst of all, according to Editor & Publisher, is that the recent drop shows a significant slide in “individually-paid circulation,” the more expensive type of subscription that’s a statistic coveted by advertisers. The daily lost 5,549 subscribers in that realm, or about 15.8 percent. The News-Press is, however, on the rise in discounted subscriptions – but that 68 percent uptick only amounts to 147 copies.

As a comparison, Editor & Publisher used The Blade in Toldeo, Ohio, where a union battle waged for nine months. That award-winning paper only lost about 2.4 percent, which is about the industry standard.

A request for comments was put out to the News-Press, but was not returned at the time of this publishing. If they do issue a comment or divulge plans on how to stop the circulation free-fall, they will be included in an update.


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