Newspaper Circulation Decline May Not Be Over
Down again: The Audit Bureau of Circulations won’t publicly release its report on Maine daily newspapers for a couple of weeks, but some figures are starting to leak out. And unlike the filings with the U.S. Postal Service published last month, the early indications aren’t positive.
The Bangor Daily News’ ABC figures for the six months ending Sept. 25 show the paper sold an average of nearly four thousand fewer copies Monday through Friday, than it did a year ago. That’s a decline of eight percent. The BDN’s number for the same period in 2010: 49,947. This year: 45,951.
That’s a bigger drop than in recent years, when the slippage was usually in the five to six percent range.
It was a little better on weekends, when the Bangor paper’s Saturday edition lost three and a half percent year to year, slipping from 57,518 in 2010 to 55,490 in 2011.
That’s a lot better than the negative numbers that have been well over five percent in recent reports.
ABC made some changes to its reporting process in 2010, so this year’s report won’t allow a strict apples-to-apples comparison. That could mean that the trend that appeared in the U.S. Postal figures – which showed most Maine papers with circulation that was either flat or gaining slightly – might not be an anomaly. But it’ll be spring of 2012, when the next ABC report is released, before that becomes clear.
Derailer: Pan Am Systems Inc. doesn’t like it when journalists write bad things about it. Pan Am has filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Bangor against a weekly newsletter based in Yarmouth that covers rail activity in the northeastern United States and eastern Canada.
Pan Am is a Dover, N.H. company (formerly Guilford Transportation) that runs most of the freight rail lines in Maine and makes a few bucks on the side licensing its name to the ABC television series, even though it’s no longer in the airline business. It claims Atlantic Northeast Rails & Ports and its editor Chalmers “Chop” Hardenbergh defamed it in reports on its safety record, service and the resignation of its former CEO, David Andrew Fink.
In response, the newsletter’s lawyers are asking the court to dismiss the case because the material cited in the suit is mostly opinion and is protected by the First Amendment. In a news release, Hardenbergh’s attorneys note that this isn’t the only time Pan Am’s management has gone after critical journalists, referring to a case from 2000 in which the federal court of appeals in Washington, D.C., chastised the railroad’s owners for attempting to suppress a reporter’s free speech.
Feline felicitations: I don’t usually mention journalism awards in this space because there are altogether too many of them (have you ever met a reporter or editor with more than twenty minutes of experience whose resume didn’t mention that were “award-winning”?), they’re often handed out for reasons that have nothing to do with the quality of the work (cronyism, politics, etc.) and with the exception of the Pulitzer or the Nobel Prize for Literature, nobody outside the profession cares.
But I’m making an exception for this one.
BJ Bangs, a reporter for the Original Irregular in Kingfield, wrote a series earlier this year on pet overpopulation in Maine. It’s been awarded a certificate of excellence by none other than the Cat Writers Association.
Really. And congratulations.
Al Diamon can be emailed at email@example.com.