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Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Chronicle's Goal of Losing Readership Wildly Successful

Posted By on Tue, Apr 27, 2010 at 12:01 AM

click to enlarge biggest_loser_season_12.jpg
For the Chronicle it's not so much a glass-half-empty or glass-half-full situation. It's a glass-half-empty/full and leaking rapidly situation. While a recently released survey pits the Chron as possessing the 24th-largest circulation in the nation -- its numbers have dropped nearly 23 percent since last year's already pallid totals. 

The paper's executives have, in the past, reacted with counter-intuitive happiness to reports their readership has precipitously declined. Since the paper has cut back on staff, given the slip to union printers, and, accordingly, reduced circulation, the Chron has preached that the road to profitability is by becoming leaner, more focused, and less widely circulated. Following the imposition of higher subscription and newsstand prices, a hefty circulation drop was anticipated. But the giddiness with which it has been received is still a bit bizarre at times.

"The new circulation revenue has become an important part of our business model," said Chron president Mark Adkins right around the time his paper's daily circulation dropped 26 percent to around 252,000 last year. "We are pretty pleased."

Adkins hasn't returned SF Weekly's call, so it's anybody's guess how pleased he feels about the aforementioned report from the Associated Press and the Chron's latest plummet.

That document places the Chron's daily circulation at 241,300 during the period of Oct. 2009 through March 2010 -- down 22.7 percent from the same six-month span one year prior. Sunday's circulation of 286,121 is down 19.3 percent from last year's.

And yet, a bigger circulation does not always equal profitability. Last year, Chron higher-ups boasted to the rank-and-file that they had a profitable final quarter of 2009 -- right when circulation was apparently hitting rock bottom and starting to dig.

Best of luck to the folks at Fifth and Mission. The writers and editors are working fervently and they've cut just about every animal, vegetable, and mineral they can. But, sooner or later, the only thing left to toss overboard is the ship.

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About The Author

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi was born in San Francisco, raised in the Bay Area, and attended U.C. Berkeley. He never left. "Your humble narrator" was a staff writer and columnist for SF Weekly from 2007 to 2015. He resides in the Excelsior with his wife, 4.3 miles from his birthplace and 5,474 from hers.


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