Area’s newspapers continuing to lose readers

Print subscribers continued to trickle from newspapers throughout the greater Capital Region during

Print subscribers continued to trickle from newspapers throughout the greater Capital Region during the fall and winter, though the circulation leak was more pronounced for the Troy Record, according to statistics released Monday by the Audit Bureau of Circulations.

At a time when an economic downturn is threatening to exacerbate a years-old subscriber flight, most area papers posted low, single-digit daily and Sunday circulation declines for the six-month period ending March 31. But both the Saratogian and Albany Times Union made slight gains with their Sunday editions, according to the ABC, the world’s largest circulation auditing organization based in Schaumburg, Ill.

The TU, the region’s largest daily paper, saw its average Monday-through-Friday circulation shrink by 3,065 or 3.32 percent to 89,256. However, the TU’s Sunday circulation inched up by 118 subscribers to 141,064. TU Circulation Director John DeAugustine said the paper’s Monday-through-Friday circulation could increase by September.

During the past 30 days, the TU had an online readership of 154,218 in a standard television viewing area as defined by Nielsen Media Research. In that area, its print readership was 433,986, giving the paper a net combined audience of 466,435. Web site data was not available for other area publications.

“It’s been a steady decline, but at the same time newspaper Web sites have picked up readership dramatically,” said Diane Kennedy, president of the New York Newspaper Publishers Association, an Albany trade organization.

In Schenectady, the Daily Gazette sustained some of the area’s slightest daily and Sunday subscriber losses in relation to overall circulation in the Capital Region. The Gazette’s average Monday-through-Friday circulation declined by 1,130 subscribers or 2.70 percent to 47,277. Its Sunday circulation fell 1,835 or 3.81 percent to 46,356.

The Gazette in December launched a free online edition, which operates separately from its older paid subscription Web site. Gazette General Manager Dan Beck said the Schenectady company continues to put out a “strong local product” and the new Web site should satisfy readers’ demand for instant local news. He said the Gazette’s online statistics will be included in the next ABC report.

Losses were slightest at the Gloversville Leader-Herald, which saw its Monday-through-Friday circulation slip by 178 subscribers or 1.75 percent to 10,020. Sunday circulation declined by 278 or 2.48 percent to 10,943. Leader-Herald Publisher Patricia Beck said it was her paper’s focus on local coverage that has minimized its circulation losses.

“It’s content that sells the papers. We’re improving on it,” said Beck, who is not related to the Gazette’s Dan Beck.

In Saratoga Springs, the Saratogian saw a 138-subscriber uptick for its Sunday paper to 9,542. But its Monday-through-Friday circulation tumbled by 424 or 4.63 percent to 8,731.

The Record, which like the Saratogian is owned by the Journal Register Co., saw its Monday-through-Friday circulation plunge by 1,619 subscribers or 10.53 percent to 13,755. Sunday circulation took a steeper dive, falling by 2,417 or 13.88 percent to 15,001.

Whereas the Saratogian has benefited from Saratoga County’s growing population and vibrant economy, the Record has suffered as people leave its core markets, such as Watervliet and Cohoes, Kennedy said. Record Publisher Michael O’Sullivan did not immediately return a call Monday seeking comment.

JRC is also struggling and it recently hired a financial advisor to “evaluate our strategic options.” Its stock earlier this month was delisted from the New York Stock Exchange because it fell below a minimum $1 per share requirement.

The Glens Falls Post Star lost 1,263 subscribers or 4.01 percent of its Monday-through-Friday circulation, ending the reporting period with 30,265 subscribers. Sunday’s circulation fell by 1,603 or 4.64 percent to 32,977.

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