Newspapers circ. is contracting–are you surprised?

Matt Drudge’s list of the declining circulation figures for major market papers, released Monday by the Audit Bureau for Circulation, provides an at a glance cheat sheet for a contraction the industry has been talking about (and dreading) for at least a year. The biggest losers:

  • San Francisco Chronicle, 391,681, down 16.4 percent
  • The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 362,426, down 8.73 percent
  • The Boston Globe, 414,225, down 8.25 percent
  • Houston Chronicle, 521,419, down 6.01 percent

One would argue that the large regional papers are especially vulnerable to both circ and advertising losses, since they lack the global cachet and national subscriber base of the NYTimes (up slightly) , the Wall Street Journal, and perhaps, The Washington Post–and they are not really able to be microlocal or fully zoned–it’s just too expensive.

Will newspaper be able to extract enough revenue out of their online operations to make their current business work? Probably not–if revenue growth is going to come from online, news organization will need to adjust their businesses accordingly-the tail just can’t make enough $$ to wag this big dog–or, in other words, a 30 person online operation can’t support a 300-person newsroom.

So, what’s next? It’s reinvention time.


Update: CJR editorial goes gentle into that good night.