Down Again: New Maine Circulation Figures
The slide continues: The Audit Bureau of Circulations released its latest numbers on Maine newspapers on May 8. The circulation figures for the six months ending March 31, 2012, offer a hint of good news for the Maine Sunday Telegram, but little comfort to any other paper.
The MaineToday Media-owned Telegram saw its weekly circulation decline by less than one percent, from 76,715 in 2011 to 76,015 this year. That’s the smallest decrease for that paper in at least five years.
The news was not so positive at MaineToday’s Portland Press Herald. While still the state’s largest daily, the Press Herald lost seven percent of its readership in the past twelve months, dropping from an average circulation each day of 50,981 to 47,326. The drop was the largest recorded by ABC for any Maine paper and may be attributed, at least partially, to a cover price increase last year from seventy-five cents to a dollar.
The Bangor Daily News held its price steady for most of the survey period, so the shrinkage of four and a half percent for its weekday paper and two percent for its weekend edition might have been worse. The BDN now sells an average of 45,180 Monday through Friday – down from 47,325 last year – and 52,695 on Saturday – a dip from 53,868 in 2011.
MaineToday’s Kennebec Journal and Morning Sentinel haven’t submitted figures to the bureau in about five years, but the new ownership did so this time. To no one’s surprise, both papers have lost considerable ground since they were last audited in 2007. The KJ went from a daily average of 14,903 papers sold in ’07 to just 10,792 today. The Sunday version sells 11,343 in 2012, compared to 14,089 five years ago. The Sentinel showed a similar pattern. It went from 19,614 in 2007 to 13,922 this year for its daily paper. On Sundays, the drop was from 18,300 (2007) to 14,029 (2012).
The state’s other two dailies, the Times Record in Brunswick and the Journal Tribune in Biddeford, both owned by Sample Media, didn’t submit figures to ABC this time around.
The history of the future: I was a little surprised no Maine newspaper covered the May 7 conference in Portland on the future of Maine’s newspapers (although the Bangor Daily News Web site offered live streaming of the event). The only news outlet that did a story turned out to be the Maine Wire, the Web site run by the conservative think tank the Maine Heritage Policy Center.
According to its story (there’s no byline), it doesn’t appear that anybody said anything very revealing about how to reverse the fortunes of daily papers. Portland Newspaper Guild president Tom Bell did, however, do a decent comedy routine.
Rolling Stone: The Bangor Daily News has hired Matthew Stone as its new State House reporter, replacing Eric Russell, who is defecting to the Portland Press Herald. Stone is a former Kennebec Journal staff writer, who most recently has been working as a consultant for the Maine Department of Education.
Al Diamon can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.