In an internal memo, USA Today publisher David Hunke addressed the paper’s reported decline of 398,000 copies a day.

Hunke said:

We fully expect to see circulation increases again as the economy recovers. I’m encouraged by the fact that despite the tough travel economy, we have not lost a single hotel relationship during this recession.

Even with this latest economic impact, USA TODAY remains the nation’s number one newspaper in total print circulation. We know these circulation declines are temporary and as the economy continues to recover and the travel industry rebounds, we know our circulation will rebound with it.

See Hunke’s full memo after the jump.


From: USA TODAY Publisher
Sent: Friday, October 09, 2009 1:31 PM
To: USAT Domestic Staff; ‘USAT Staff International’
Subject: USA TODAY Circulation

To: USA TODAY Staff

From: Dave Hunke, President & Publisher USA TODAY

As we have anticipated, when the latest ABC Fas Fax circulation report is released on October 26, USA TODAY will post a circulation decline of 398,000 copies per day.

In a planned effort to be in front of this circulation report release, I had an exclusive interview with Editor & Publisher magazine last night to discuss our expected decline. To see todayÂ’s story, click here.

The significant downturn in the economy and its impact on the travel industry are obviously having a domino effect showing in our circulation losses. Before this year, our largest circulation declines came after the attacks of September 11th in 2001. And when the travel industry rebounded in the months that followed, USA TODAY did, too. We fully expect to see circulation increases again as the economy recovers. I’m encouraged by the fact that despite the tough travel economy, we have not lost a single hotel relationship during this recession.

We are aware of the impact this decline may have on advertising, recognizing circulation is one of the factors to affect advertising rates. However, advertising rates are also calculated on a number of other variables as well. The quality of our editorial content and the quality of our audience remain a strong draw for advertisers. Released last month, the Mendelsohn survey of affluent readers (household income of $100,000-plus) reports USA TODAY has more than 3.5 million affluent readers – substantially more than either the Wall Street Journal or the New York Times.

Even with this latest economic impact, USA TODAY remains the nation’s number one newspaper in total print circulation. We know these circulation declines are temporary and as the economy continues to recover and the travel industry rebounds, we know our circulation will rebound with it.

- Dave