SF Newspapers Evaporating — Latest Figures

BY BUDDY NEVINS

 

Here is something you probably didn’t read in the Sun-Sentinel.

At least, I couldn’t find it.

The latest circulation figures from Florida newspapers show another big drop for the Sun-Sentinel and other area newspapers.

Readers are melting away faster than the North Pole ice pack.

The figures below are for the six months ending Sept. 30.

The daily circulation of the Sun-Sentinel is 140,468.

The circulation was 183,533 just four years ago.  At times when I worked there, it was over 250,000 daily.

Sunday’s Sun-Sentinel circulation, which is pumped up by the seekers of coupons, is 213,526 copies. In 1997, the staff was given the coffee cup below which celebrated the newspaper’s 420,000 Sunday circulation.

 

The county has added hundreds of thousands of residents since 1997 and the circulation has been halved.

To put the circulation figures in perspective, The Sun-Sentinel also circulates in South Palm Beach County. There are roughly two million people in the paper’s Broward and South Palm Beach County territory, plus thousands of visitors at any given time.  The daily Sun-Sentinel has maybe 5 percent of that audience.

The biggest shock of these figures is how weak the Miami Herald and Palm Beach Post have become.

The Post is fading away, while the Herald has all of Miami-Dade to itself and still can’t sell many newspapers.

This leads me to these questions.

The newspapers have been cutting coverage for years. Is that responsible for at least part of the circulation decline?

Publishers claim they need to cut back because of a decline in their business.

But does cutting the coverage give readers less reason to pay for the paper, causing the decline to snowball?

I believe it does.

Will paid Internet be the savior of newspapers?  Not likely.

There is an old saying: “Why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free?”  The saying was usually used to discourage women from premarital sex in the old days, but it is apropos to this situation.

Why pay for yesterday’s news when you can get free up-to-the-minute news streamed to your mobile device or your home computer?

There is plenty of free local news on the Internet.  You are reading one now, and Browardbeat.com will remain free along with dozens of other good solid sites.

 

Latest Florida Newspapers Circulation

Newspaper- Daily-  Sunday (2011 figures in parentheses)

Tampa Bay Times 313,003 (240,024) 379,375 (403,229)

Orlando Sentinel 162,636 (171,418) 271,824 (286,982)

South Florida Sun-Sentinel 140,468 (147,860) 213,526 (224,763)

Miami Herald** 135,533 (160,505) 189,818 (209,116)

Tampa Tribune 173,302 (125,867) 271,658 (254,782)

Palm Beach Post 88,231 (95,620) 142,679 (123,488)

Florida Times-Union 91,549 (99,280) 143,991 (159,312)

** Does not include El Nuevo Herald



18 Responses to “SF Newspapers Evaporating — Latest Figures”

  1. Bill Hirschman says:

    The Sun Sentinel is selling more copies than the Herald? Amazing! How can that be?

  2. Anon says:

    Paying a $1.50 for a copy at a news stand and being able to read it in under 15 minutes might be one big reason that circulation is so low.

  3. Mike Butler says:

    Newspapers continue to spend a lot of time and money on reporting national and international news, but are neglecting the one area where they have a virtual monopoly: local news. There are really good newspapers out there with subscription rates that exceed the population of the area they service. The reason is that they are really good at reporting local news. The Miami Herald often has two very in-depth sections for sports and a very thick section with national and international news. I can get all that on the internet or TV. But their local section is a few pages…and its my only source. I agree there are internet news sites, like your Buddy, but its not the same as excellent local coverage.

    FROM BUDDY:

    The problem is we are not getting “excellent local coverage”. I totally disagree that the local newspapers “are really good at reporting local news.”

    I think they are good at compiling news releases and call it news. There is very little real news from most of the communities in Broward in any of the main street media.

    You might not be interested in North Lauderdale, Oakland Park, Coconut Creek or West Park, but the people who live there are. There are excellent local websites — Tamarac, Parkland and Weston come to mind — that fill in the gap.

    My site is strictly for politics and other news that interests me….and hopefully some readers. I don’t pretend to cover the news full time. I also don’t do many big investigations, like the http://www.Browardbulldog.org site.

    My point is that you can get anything you want on the Internet for free.

  4. A dying breed says:

    Newspapers as we knew them are a dying breed, due to the internet, for sure. We stopped our subscription when we realized we were getting stale news, news that once it made it’s way into our house in hard copy, we already read the day or days before.

    But the S-S, in particular, has really declined in the quality and quantity of news provided. Gone are the days when hard hitting reporters like Fred Schulte and Jenni Bergal used to do revealing investigative stories that earned them prestigious awards.

    Now we get stories about the woman with the tremendous boobs on the front page.

    The S-S has let most of its good reporters retire (like you) or downsized them out the door. We are left with reporters who regurgitate what they’ve read on other, less responsible blogs, which passes for a news story on the S-S.

    There will always be other sites available for national news, but the decline of the S-S for reporting local news is sad, indeed. May it rest in peace.

  5. Chaz Stevens, Genius says:

    Buddy;

    For years, I’ve struggled with the issue of monetizing my blog, MyActsOfSedition.com. And to date, I’ve yet to really figure it out. It’s been a labor of love and a serious financial drain. What we do (you, I, and others) is a wickedly expensive hobby — and not only in monetary terms. I’ve been sued, have the cost of keeping up my server, burned up a huge amount of time custom developing my code base, software licensing, etc.

    And I don’t believe folks really understand the amount of resources involved in developing some of our stories.

    I’m not complaining, mind you — as I completely comprehend the value of BrowardBeat, the Bulldog, MAOS, and others.

    I’ve often believed a pathway to success — and yet really see it put effectively into action — is a concerted effort by the S-S and others to work with area bloggers.

    I’ve heard the term “hyperlocal” bandied about.

    Think about Hallandale Beach … who knows it better than Dave Smith? Yet, I don’t see (could be wrong) the S-S reaching out to Dave. What about the School System? Think no further that CharlotteG. She’s the bomb, yet again, I see the S-S missing the boat.

    Sure thing. The Herald and SS content share (as they should) with the Bulldog — as DanC and his team do simply amazing work. But what about Tamarac? Pompano? Hollywood? What about that corrupt little shire known as “Hillsboro Beach”?

    Over the last 14 months, I have invested a considerable amount of personal treasure (thought, money, hours) digging into Lauderdale Lakes. And while I have nothing but the utmost respect for Elgin and Larry Barzekski, they’re not able to do what I do … not because they lack the talent, rather, they just don’t have the time. Or resources. Or support from their management team.

    And who care about Lauderdale Lakes right as it’s only 4 square miles.

    Well, I am telling you, everyone should care. LL is the canary in the CRA coal mine. What’s happening over there is a microcosm of what’s happening in CRAs around the country. That’s why that story is important. It’s definitely a tale worth telling.

    And you won’t find it on the SS, or the Herald, or HuffPo Miami.

    Ultimately, the MSM will have to learn how to deal with bloggers like myself, and Dave, and Tim, and my buddy Walk in Central Florida.

    F-bombs and all.

  6. 2007 Figures says:

    Looking at the 2007 figures, which should represent maximum historical circulation pretty well, the Tampa Bay Times (which renamed itself and used to be called the St. Petersburg Times) is holding up pretty well with only a small decline in circulation. The others are definitely losing circulation.

    http://www.burrellesluce.com/top100/2007_Top_100List.pdf

    Tampa Bay Times (formerly The St. Petersburg Times) 322,771 Daily, 430,893 Sunday

    Orlando Sentinel 226,854 Daily, 335,689 Sunday

    South Florida Sun-Sentinel 226,591 Daily, 319,103 Sunday

    Miami Herald 272,299 Daily, 342,432 Sunday

    Tampa Tribune 226,990 Daily

    Palm Beach Post 155,590 Daily, 214,572 Sunday

    Florida Times-Union 155,590 Daily, 214,572 Sunday

  7. Bill says:

    Not surprised. I have a hard time finding articles buried in the advertisements.

  8. Former Reader says:

    They charge $1.50 a copy, compared to .75 for the Miami Herald. I rather have a snicker’s and .5 left over because a snicker’s will take a hell of a lot longer to finish than the Sun-Sentinel.

  9. Sam The Sham says:

    The SS was barely worth reading 20 years ago. Buddy only had a couple of articles a week, there was absolutely NOTHING in a Monday paper and they were just as slanted as they are today. At least they had some good writers and people who knew how to edit.

    But to say that we don’t have local coverage is a myth. I see a lot of stories from the Orlando locale.

    The SS paywall is a joke. I can get around it anytime I want and I have not paid them a dime in years.

    FROM BUDDY:

    Shhhhush. Don’t tell them I only had a couple of articles a week. They might ask for their money back :-)

  10. Harvey says:

    It is definitely the lack of any real effort in reporting locally that made me drop my subscription. I haven’t learned anything new from the SS in years. It has become a regurgitater of news from other sources. The development of partnerships with local bloggers as Chaz suggested makes sense. Outsourcing to local specialists who really know their area sounds much better than having to read yet another article that was written for the Orlando Sentinel and tossed in the SS to fill space. The mainstream media has given up real reporting, they can’t monetize it unless it’s Anna Nicole Smith tabloid material. There is a reason that local TV news shows now routinely report results from dreck like American Idol as if it were news.

  11. Kevin says:

    The only credible source of original reporting on state government in Tallahassee left is the TB Times.

    That might be why their circulation is not dropping like a stone.

    Herald and SS used to actually cover state politics on their own. Now they just crib stories from the Times or the wires.

    FROM BUDDY:

    Actually, the Herald and Tampa Bay Times share a bureau and staff in Tallahassee. I agree that they have the strongest staff and the most thoughtful coverage of Tallahassee. Herald readers get some of that coverage.

    The Sun-Sentinel shares its bureau with its sister Tribune Company paper, the Orlando Sentinel.

  12. Another reason says:

    Another reason the TB Times is doing well – the paper is not run by uncaring cost-cutters like Sam Zell…
    ————
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tampa_Bay_Times

    The Times has won eight Pulitzer Prizes since 1964, and in 2009, won two in a single year for the first time in the paper’s history.

    It is published by the Times Publishing Company, which is owned by The Poynter Institute for Media Studies, a nonprofit journalism school directly adjacent to the University of South Florida St. Petersburg campus.

  13. Florida's Best! says:

    I once lived in the Tampa Bay area, and when I first read what was then the St. Petersburg Times, I saw their self-description printed on the front page: “Florida’s Best Newspaper”.

    At first, I thought this was just extreme puffery. But after reading the paper, and comparing it to other Florida papers I had either read as a resident or read online, the truth became clear – they weren’t kidding!

    Other papers have their moments, but the TB Times is consistently outstanding. They really know their business.

  14. 2007 Figures says:

    Correction: the Palm Beach Post’s 2007 numbers are 175,495 daily and 204,847 Sunday.

  15. City Activist Robert Walsh says:

    W/ the price of the Paper @ 2bucks on Sat/Sun, and 1.50 during the week, I can see why they are not selling more papers. My suggestion is keep the price of the Paper @ what it is. Stop going up every other month. I mean this past Monday I paid 2 bucks. Why?. I think also local editor Dana Banker really needs to step up to the plate instead of area activist giving her reporters tips that make the front page. Add more stories, segmnets to entice the customer to buy the Paper. Also stop giving away the store so to speak w/ your web site. Less is more. Also to point out the Papers need us more than we need them…

  16. Ha Ha Ha says:

    The Florida Times-Union is Florida’s Worst Newspaper. It’ll be a great day in Florida’s history when that paper finally dies!

  17. Duke says:

    I got a call the other night from a telemarketer wanting me to subscribe to the Sun-Sentinel. I told the person to please not take it personal.. but do to them endorsing Romney, I would decline a subscription.

  18. need to know says:

    In the 1980′s there was a morning and afternoon edition of the newspaper – ft lauderdale News and Sun Sentinel, if I recall correctly and both were from same company (please correct me if I am wrong). Then merged into one. A superios paper with terrific journalism. Seems lots of that changed in early 2000′s. Before internet you had to save the page from the paper if an article was of interest. Now when I look at pre-2000 page vs. 2012, or even 2008, they don’t even look like the same paper.Looks like Gannett/USA Today pulled a similaar stunt in sept. 2012. I stopped buying it as well.

    FROM BUDDY:

    You are not wrong about your history. I worked for the Fort Lauderdale News, which was folded into the Sun-Sentinel gradually in the 1980s. Both were owned by the same company — Gore Publishing, which was bought in the 1960s by the Tribune Company of Chicago. A historical footnote: The Gore State Office Building on West Broward Boulevard just west of the Florida East Coast Railway tracks is named for one of the members of the original owners of the paper.

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