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Circulation rises at 9 of the top U.S. newspapers

SHARE Circulation rises at 9 of the top U.S. newspapers

Daily circulation at nine of the nation's top 15 newspapers increased in the six months through September as the booming economy attracted more readers and the effects of higher subscription prices began to wear off.

According to data released Monday by the Audit Bureau of Circulations, the largest circulation rise of the top 15 papers compared to the same period last year was a 13.9 percent gain at The Arizona Republic to 437,118. That gain was aided by the closure of its sister paper, The Phoenix Gazette.The results reverse a general decline in daily circulation over the past two years at major papers after many raised prices to offset higher newsprint costs and cut back costly deliveries to outlying areas.

"They took the hit from the price increases earlier. Now they're starting to show growth," said John Morton, a newspaper industry analyst at Morton Research Inc.

However, seven of the top 13 papers that publish Sunday editions lost circulation. The nation's two biggest papers, The Wall Street Journal and USA Today, publish only weekday editions.

In daily circulation, the second-biggest winner in the top 15 was USA Today, where circulation increased 2.4 percent from a year earlier to 1.63 million.

Other gainers were The New York Times, up 0.3 percent at 1.07 million; the Los Angeles Times, up 2.1 percent at 1.05 million; Newsday, up 0.7 percent at 568,914; the Houston Chronicle, up 0.7 percent at 549,101; The Dallas Morning News, up 0.6 percent at 481,032; The Boston Globe, up 1.3 percent at 476,966; and the New York Post, up 1.5 percent at 436,226.

Circulation at The Wall Street Journal declined 0.5 percent at 1.77 million. The largest decliner in percentage terms of the top 15 was the Chicago Tribune, down 4.0 percent at 653,554.

The Newspaper Association of America, an industry trade group, calculated that the bureau's figures equaled an overall circulation decline of 0.3 percent. But 63.7 percent of papers with circulation over 200,000 reported gains, the association said.

"They're targeting their audiences better and going after readers," said John Sturm, the trade group's president. He said many papers have benefited from concentrating on their main circulation markets, even if it meant cutting delivery to more outlying areas.

Other decliners in the top 15 were The Washington Post, down 1.5 percent at 775,894; the Daily News of New York, down 1.8 percent at 721,256; and the San Francisco Chronicle, down 0.6 percent at 484,218.

The Sunday decliners were led the Daily News, down 9.1 percent at 807,788; the Chicago Tribune, down 2.2 percent at 1.02 million; and The Washington Post, down 1.6 percent at 1.10 million. The biggest gain in Sunday circulation, as measured by percentage swings, was the New York Post, up 11.9 percent at 326,087.

As daily circulation at big papers increased, major newspaper companies in the past month have reported solid profits for the third quarter due to lower newsprint prices and higher advertising revenue.

Gannett Co., the publisher of USA Today and the nation's leading newspaper group, said profits from its continuing operations jumped 37 percent, while Knight-Ridder, the second-largest newspaper group, said profits from continuing operations rose 12 percent.