Monday, January 10, 2005

#5 in USA!

In the shady business of newspaper circulation figures, the Houston Chronicle ranks 5th in the USA for the percentage of papers that are sold to "third parties" and given away.

The New York Times reports Monday that 8.2 percent of the Chron's 740,005 paid circulation is comprised of third party sales.

Leading the pack is USA Today, followed by William Dean Singleton's Denver Post, the Wall Street Journal and the San Jose Mercury News.

The newspaper industry changed its own rules regarding legit circulation figures, resulting in freebie papers now being delivered to places like hospitals where some potential readers are too sick to even check out the funnies, reports the NYT.

Maintaining the appearance of healthy circulation has been critical to newspapers at a time when the industry is losing advertisers to other media, like the Web and television. Because paid circulation determines in large part what publishers can charge for advertising - the lifeblood of an estimated $58 billion industry - any deep sustained losses threaten to erode the already shaken confidence of marketers and investors.

Kudos to the Chron, which managed to miss being named in the body of the NYT story (whew!) but was listed at #5 in an accompanying graphic that lists the newspapers that take advantage of the new third-party sales rule.

We say kudos because when new management took over at the Chron nearly three years ago, a vow was made to craft Houston's only daily newspaper into one of the nation's leading periodicals, and ranking #5 in a NYT list is something to hang your hat on. As the saying goes, as long as the media spells your name right, any publicity is good publicity.

Look for the Times to receive special recognition at the next American Society of Newspaper Editors convention for bringing the third-party sales circulation angle to the country's attention. What could that be? Outright shunning or a pie in the face? Hard to say.


Anonymous said...

sounds like Voodoo circulation numbers

Anonymous said...

Anyone wanna bet that this will NOT be in tomorrow's Barnacle?