Industry Efforts to Court & Keep Newspaper Readers Pay Off.

The most recent Competitive Media Index from the Newspaper Association of America shows newspaper readership numbers are holding steady from the spring CMI, and have gained almost a full percentage point since the fall report a year ago. The CMI is an NAA analysis of market data from Scarborough Research for the period ending March 2002.

More than half of all adults in the top 50 markets read a newspaper every weekday; 55.4 percent reported by the fall 2002 CMI, compared to 55.5 percent in the spring 2002 CMI and up from 54.3 percent a year ago. When looking at readership over the course of five weekdays, nearly three-quarters of adults in these markets have looked at the paper.

On Sunday, the fall 2002 CMI discovered that nearly two-thirds (63.6 percent) of adults in the top 50 markets are reading a newspaper, a figure that’s held steady over the past year; 63.7 percent for fall 2001 and 63.9 percent in the spring 2002 CMI. Over four Sundays, fully 77.3 percent of adults read a newspaper.

“The newspaper industry is very serious about its commitment to readership,” commented NAA President and CEO John F. Sturm. “We’re seeing this commitment on an industry-wide level, as the NAA Board of Directors voted to fund the Readership Institute for another year, and at individual papers that are putting what we’re learning into practice.”

The industry’s readership efforts will continue in January, Sturm noted, when NAA hosts its first Readership Conference that will focus on strategies for building readership. (For more information, go online to
http://www.naa.org/conferences/readership .)

“We need to remember to look beyond simply ink on paper when we consider the audience a newspaper is reaching,” Sturm added. “Several members tell us that they’re picking up impressive, unduplicated reach with their online products.

“Advertisers certainly realize the value of newspaper-affiliated sites, as we learned from a Borrell Associates study that showed three-quarters of advertisers said our sites were as good or a better value than other sites,” Sturm said.

On the circulation front, which measures the number of papers sold rather than how many people are reading them, an NAA analysis of the Audit Bureau of Circulations’ Fas-Fax report for the period ending Sept. 30, 2002, shows that daily circulation for the papers reporting dipped slightly, by 0.3 percent. Sunday’s reporting papers showed a similar trend, down 0.4 percent.

The 807 reporting dailies had a total circulation of 48,570,580 on Sept. 30, 2002, compared to 48,727,047 for the same period a year earlier. The 630 reporting Sunday papers had total circulation of 53,389,519 at the end of September, versus 53,598,459 a year ago.

The largest dailies, with circulation over 500,000, posted a slight gain, up 0.3 percent. Other circulation categories reported as follows: 250,000- 499,999 and 100,000-249,999 were each down 0.6 percent; 50,000-99,999 dipped only 0.1 percent; 25,000-49,999 fell 0.5 percent; and under 25,000 decreased by 0.6 percent.

On Sunday, the big papers showed no statistical gain or loss, while others were: 250,000-499,999 down 0.4 percent; 100,000-249,999 slipped 0.6 percent; 50,000-99,999 was off 0.8 percent; 25,000-49,999 marked only a 0.1 percent loss; and papers under 25,000 were off 0.6 percent.

“It’s become almost trite to remind folks that people read more newspapers than they buy,” Sturm noted. “We’re seeing the importance of measuring readership in addition to net-paid circulation, as advertisers increasingly turn to newspapers’ ABC Reader Profile reports to get a complete picture of the audience.”

The following are NAA’s Fall 2002 CMI top 10 newspaper markets for adult readership:

Daily:

1. Providence, R.I.-New Bedford, Mass. (67.9 percent)
2. Boston (65.9 percent)
3. West Palm Beach, Fla. (65.5 percent)
4. Buffalo (65.1 percent)
5. Hartford-New Haven, Conn. (64.7 percent)
6. Cleveland (63.5 percent)
7. New York (63.3 percent)
8. Pittsburgh (63.2 percent)
9. Tampa-St. Petersburg-Sarasota, Fla. (61.1 percent)
10. Harrisburg-Lancaster-Lebanon-York, Pa. (61.0 percent)

Sunday:

1. West Palm Beach, Fla. (76.6 percent)
2. Cleveland (76.0 percent)
3. Providence, R.I.-New Bedford, Mass. (75.0 percent)
4. Tampa-St. Petersburg-Sarasota, Fla. (74.2 percent)
5. Hartford-New Haven, Conn. (72.8 percent)
6. Pittsburgh (72.1 percent)
7. Buffalo (71.8 percent)
8. New Orleans (69.6 percent)
9. Minneapolis-St. Paul (69.1 percent)
10. Orlando-Daytona Beach-Melbourne, Fla. (69.0 percent)

The CMI is based on audience research data collected by Scarborough Research, New York City, to which NAA subscribes. Scarborough, a leading media/market research firm, measures 75 DMAs (including the top 50). Scarborough collects data via telephone interview and a mailed consumer survey booklet and seven-day TV diary. Scarborough collected fieldwork for Release One 2002 from February 2001 through March 2002.

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