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