Chron publisher spins (and spins and spins) latest circulation decline

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As anticipated in the addendum to yesterday’s post on the Chronicle‘s sagging circulation numbers, the newspaper featured publisher Jack Sweeney’s spin on the severe decline today:

“We’re concentrating our sales and marketing efforts on our core market, the ZIP codes where our advertisers need it,” he said.

Sweeney said home delivery accounts are up nearly 5 percent Sunday and more than 21 percent on key weekdays in those 75 ZIP codes.

While the Chronicle has fewer seven-day customers, “five-day, three-day and Sunday-only delivery programs have helped fuel that growth,” Sweeney said.

In the core Houston market, Sunday home delivery has continued to grow — a more than 1,000-paper gain in this reporting period. In the core market, daily readership is up 3 percent, Sunday is up 9 percent and seven-day readership is up 4 percent, Sweeney said.

“And when you add chron.com, our reach is nearly 2.4 million adults each week, or 55 percent of the market,” he said.

Combined print and online audience is up 5 percent over the last year, based on data from the Scarborough Audience Ratings Report. Chron.com exceeded 91 million page views in March, up 14 percent over last year.

“Strong journalism keeps consumers of Chronicle content engaged on multiple platforms: print, online, mobile or all three,” Sweeney said. “That’s the way information is consumed these days, and our metrics are large and growing in all modern measurement areas.”

At times like this, saying less is probably better. But the Chron‘s senior management seems to be in denial. Who knows, maybe the numbers will pick up next time, now that the big blogHOUSTON blogroll exorcism is complete! At least they didn’t put a reporter’s name on that “story.”

The newspaper’s so-called reader representative posted this earlier:

The Houston Chronicle’s circulation declined 13.2 percent daily and 7.8 percent on Sundays, according to the latest circulation figures. Here’s the story.

Also, here are the top 25 newspapers by daily circulation. The Chronicle remained the seventh-largest metropolitan newspaper in the country. Check it out.

He links to the Chron PR release posing as a news story for the 13.2 percent number. Then he links to the Editor & Publisher story, which actually cites a decline of 13.96%.

Isn’t that just par for the course?

UPDATE (04-29-09): In a rare update to the About:Chron blog, Jim Newkirk explains the discrepancy:

Update: Several readers pointed out by e-mail a discrepancy between the Chronicle daily circulation figures reported in the Chronicle and the figures reported in the Editor & Publisher online story. The Chronicle story reflects a Monday through Saturday average for daily circulation and our story should have made that clear. The story by E&P reported a Monday through Friday daily average for the Chronicle. Gene Haddock, Chronicle vice president for circulation, told me the Audit Bureau of Circulations considers Monday through Friday as well as Monday through Saturday valid reporting metrics for daily circulation figures.

Story? Just call it a press release.

BLGOVERSATION: Unca Darrell.


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Kevin Whited
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