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Circulation

The Economist is 1.5 Million Strong

For the first time, The Economist has passed the 1.5 million circulation mark. The cause? An increase in digital subscribers.

The magazine achieved print circulation of 1,487,010 in the latest ABC period (ABC UK/US July-December 2011), combined with a digital-only paid circulation of more than 100,000 in December 2011.

Andrew Rashbass, CEO of The Economist Group, said:

“It took us 160 years to reach one million circulation, but only seven years to reach one and a half million. We now expect to reach two million within five years, fueled by rapid growth in digital circulation. By then we expect to have more digital than print readers.

Although our print circulation continues to rise, at some point in the near future it will go down as more and more of our customers choose to read us on a tablet or e-reader. We’re relaxed about that because we are discovering great opportunities in digital having already reached a digital-only circulation of more than 100,000. Over 75% of these readers are new to us and 12% had previously given up their print subscription. We are seeing that our digital readers are finding new times to read and immerse themselves in a truly lean-back reading experience.”

At least they’re relaxed about this whole digital transformation.

Is someone projecting the demise of print, though?

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Food & Wine Raises Rate Base Just Enough to Send Press Release

foodwine_cover.jpgFood & Wine, American Express Publishing‘s epicurean pub, announced it was raising its rate base from 900,000 to 925,000 beginning in January 2009. According to a release, the magazine’s circulation was 958,348 issues during the last six-month period.

The timing of the announcement strikes us as suspicious. The jump of 25,000 copies represents a tiny increase percentagewise (2.77), especially for a magazine that went from 800,000 to 900,000 during its last rate base hike. Given today’s bad news about magazine circulation declining almost across the board, we can’t but help the F&W announcement is more than a coincidence.

Is AEP capitalizing on the industry’s bad news? Almost certainly, but in the current climate, we’ll take any silver lining we can get, even regarding a publication we will never read.

The Magazine Circulation Decline

Media observers are still reeling the day after the semi-annual report by The Audit Bureau of Circulations, which compares newsstand sales and subscriptions from the second half of 2007 with the same period last year. Portfolio’s Jeff Bercovici called the figures a ”massacre out there on the news stand.” From Folio:

”Among the top 25 magazines in terms of total paid and verified circulation, only AARP (with a membership-based paid circulation of 23.4 million for its bimonthly magazine) showed an increase of more than two percent over the second half of 2006. Time (-17.57%) Playboy (-10.04%) and Reader’s Digest (-7.64%) all showed significant drops in overall circulation.”

National news weeklies, which recently raised their cover prices, were not immune. From Eric Sass of MediaDailyNews:

”Time Inc.’s flagship title saw newsstand sales fall 19.4% to 107,277, as subscriptions tumbled 17.5% to 3,244,595. Overall, circulation fell 17.6% to 3,351,872.

”In November 2006, Time cut its rate base 18.8% to 3.25 million, so the decline in subscriptions may be due partly to a purge of ‘junk’ circulation, including automatically renewed subscriptions. But it’s hard to put a good spin on the steep drop in newsstand sales, which advertisers often view as an indicator of audience engagement.”

Some good news, from The New York Times, ”The biggest increase among major magazines was for Every Day With Rachael Ray, which jumped 67 percent from the second half of 2006, to almost 1.7 million.”

Slate, Scams and The Problem with Numbers

slate.jpgLooks like the move to Newsweek-WashPo has done Slate some good. Their mention in Min Online got us looking into the numbers, which appear to be way up*. But how up is up?

Slate itself notes how fuzzy all the math can be. “Confront any Internet mogul with the numbers published by the two big web ratings houses, Nielsen/NetRatings and comScore Media Metrix, and you’re in for an earful about how they’re wrong, wrong, wrong,” notes writer Paul Boutin. Still, he insists, “Internet publishing is the most finely measurable medium ever invented.”

We agree. But we’re starting to doubt ourselves. Our illusions took a knock when we learned the new ways web-sters are jacking up the numbers to trick advertisers. Guess those jokes we used to tell about having all our friends and family click all the ads weren’t so funny, after all.

* Slate, according to Min editor-in-chief Steve Cohn — who graciously shared numbers not on the site — says Slate’s up in unique monthly visitors a whopping 35% from November to December, at 4.6 million, and up a million in pageviews, to 6.1.

NB to Min: you mention the new success of Conde’s domino.com. We think you mean dominomag.com.

Reading Between The Lines Of ABC

The very sneaky powers-that-be at the Audit Bureau of Ciculations all but guaranteed that circulation figures for the second half of 2005 would be buried by releasing the figures on a holiday. Only The New York Times’ Kit Seelye, bravely defying the ban on working yesterday, appears to have broken down ABC’s report for the common man. (And if you’re mystified as to why ABC would want to bury these figures — which are perhaps the best snapshot of the state of the industry — then you haven’t been paying attention.)

While Kit hits all the highlights — the celebrity weeklies are up, Oprah is down, the newsweeklies did this, the teen magazines did that — a few interesting stats escaped her notice. But they didn’t escape mine. The highlights and lowlights:

  • Playboy appears to be in the midst of a full-blown newsstand meltdown. Single-copy sales fell 29 percent in the last half of 2005, from 378,036 to 268,429. That’s on top of a 23 percent decline in the first half last year. Two years ago, Playboy averaged 450,834 single copies per issue. This spring, it might end up selling half that amount if the freefall continues.
  • Things are going to get worse at Penthouse before they get better. Now under new management — management which told me last fall that they thought they could add a million readers in just 12 monthsPenthouse continued its semi-annual tradition of a scary percentage decline. The magazine everyone was afraid to even look at by the end of Bob Guccione Sr.’s tenure shed another 14.6 percent of its circulation, and now has an average of 326,358 copies per issue.
  • Has Jason Binn finally stopped pretending? Although the publisher of Niche Media will swear up and down that his glossies have some of the best demographics in the known universe, his enemies (and there are many) gripe that the only place to find a copy is at Michael’s. I’ll pick up a copy today, and if he’s having lunch, I’ll ask while he hasn’t filed a publisher’s report for Gotham or Hamptons in a year.
  • For those of you keeping score on Adam Moss at home: newsstand sales of New York are up a whopping 16.6 percent. That represents a gain of about 4,000 copies per week, but still.
  • The about-to-be-sold Spin missed its rate base of 550,00 after total circulation fell from 571, 398 to 540,901 per issue. Between that and a reported average single copy cover price of just 94 cents (huh?) and that lowball price tag begins to make more sense.
  • Fast Company and Inc. strip (sorta) free copies out of their circulation mix, while Fortune and Business 2.0 stir it in. New owner Joe Mansueto dumped the 24,000 and 22,000 non-paid copies in his magazines, respectively, and both added enough news subscribers that it didn’t matter. Meanwhile, over at Time Inc., Fast Company’s archrival Business 2.0 added nearly 40,000 free copies which helped boost its overall growth to 19.3 percent (the free copies represented less than half that gain, too). Fortune, however, needed the help and still didn’t get enough — its total circulation decline half a percentage point even after adding nearly 23,000 non-paid copies per issue.

Sulzberger: “People care desperately about the New York Times… the day they stop, we’ll lose something invaluable.”

Today Jon Friedman talks to Arthur Sulzberger, Jr., who hits on something important about all the NYT-bashing scrutiny of the past year: It’s done out of love, like a parent gently scolding a straight-A child for slackin’ off and accusing Gerlado of a nudge scraping by with a C. In any case, it’s only because we care, and also because let’s face it, Judy Miller and Jayson Blair are definitely worthy of a dunce-cap. In any case, here are some of the comments Friedman coaxed out of Sulzberger in the piece:

  • On James Risen‘s infamous spying story: “The decision to hold it never even got to me. It was made for good journalistic reasons.”

  • On the Judy Miller imbroglio: “I learned that maybe I got too close to an issue. I could’ve been supportive without being present.”
  • On an easy scapegoat for the above: “Too many lawyers spoil the broth.”
  • On the future of the NYT: He is definitely focused on “how we’re going to make the business-model transition from print to digital.”
  • On spelling his name right: He hopes, at least, for that.

Controversies dog Sulzberger’s Times [MarketWatch]

Breaking: Michael Cohen is announced as new Village Voice publisher as Judy Miszner steps down

Village Voice Media CEO Jim Larkin announced this evening that Michael Cohen will be the new publisher of The Village Voice, and will resign from his current position as publisher of the Miami New Times. He will officially begin at the Voice on January 30, 2006.

Cohen replaces Judy Miszner, who stepped down today as Village Voice publisher, a post she has held for seven years. In a Voice-wide email sent at 7pm this evening (and copying her counterparts at LA Weekly, CityPages, Seattle Weekly, Nashville Scene and OC Weekly), she thanked the Voice staff for making her time there the best of her career, and wrote:

During this period we have faced incredible challenges: 9/11, blackouts, a transit strike, the proliferation of free dailies and the transformation of the internet into a major competitor. Through it all, you have shown unsurpassed loyalty and commitment to the Voice.

I am confident that a successful future lies ahead for you in the new organization and wish you the best of luck. I will miss you.

Larkin was quick to follow up with an email praising Miszner, saying “I am sorry to see her go and I wish her well in her future endeavors.” Larkin added that Miszner will consult with the Voice over the next two months.

Village Voice Media announced its merger with newspaper chain New Times on October 23, 2005, after months of speculation, which intensified leading up to the merger. The Justice Department approved the merger on November 28, 2005.

In retrospect, Miszner’s departure is not entirely surprising. The merger, which added the six Village Voice properties to the New Times’ eleven, created a glut of people at the top and it was rumored at the time that “most top VVM executives will leave within 60 days and receive separation bonuses.” As well, the Voice has lately felt the pinch of competition from adspace alternatives like Craigslist, free dailies and online sources (just today Miszner was quoted as admitting that Craiglist had made a dent in the Voice‘s classified ad base).

Miszner’s departure letter certainly evinces a fondness for her time at the Voice and an appreication for the “unsurpassed loyalty” of her staffers. Neither Miszner nor Larkin specified what Miszner’s future plans might be. When asked if Miszner had been pushed out, Village Voice spokesperson Jessica Bellucci declined to comment.

Staffwide memos from Larkin and Miszner after the jump.

Village Voice Media, New Times Announce Merger [VV]
Losing a ‘Voice’ [SFBG]
Village Voice and New Times: Their love is real, dammit [FBNY]

Read more

The Times is always the last to know

Poor New York Times. Someone should tell them that James Frey’s A Million Little Pieces is actually fiction. ‘Cause yesterday’s Best Seller list came out in the NYBR, and My Friend Leonard is #1 and A Million Little Pieces is # 15… BOTH STILL ON THE NON-FICTION LIST.

Non-Fiction. Hm. They must not know that Frey’s works are based on fabrications. I mean, how would they?

Before the Fame, a Million Little Skeptics [NYT]
Bending the Truth in a Million Little Ways [NYT]
His So-Called Life [NYT]
My True Story, More or Less, And Maybe Not at All
[NYT]
A Million Little Corrections [NYT]
Call It Fiction [NYT]

…or, you know, not.

Everyone loves the 7 train

NYP loves the 7 train.gifDoesn’t the train on the right look like an enlarged version of the illustration on the left, courtesy of today’s New York Post? It does indeed, becaue apparently the 7 train is the my baby takes the morning train.jpg prettiest train in town, and hence the only one worth photographing: the pic on the right is actually snagged from the New York Times back in December, during the first round of drama with the TWU. Sadly I don’t have three photos so I can’t claim it to be a trend, but I did pause this morning when I saw the NYP and noted the pretty 7 train gracing its cover. I suppose that a lovely city backdrop is far more poetic than your standard underground F train driveby. All things considered, subway photography really is rather urban and lovely – please feel free to send in your favorite transit strike photographic moment, and eke some good out of this long and torturous process.

Yes, I know as far as meaty, newsy blog posts go this isn’t quite up there, but come on. It’s the weekend. And have you been outside? Right, then. Let’s hope this weather holds, considering that we’re likely to be doing a lot of walking again very soon.

Related in Random Transit-Themed Audio Links:
Peace Train [Cat Stevens]
Riding on the Subway [Jesse Malin]
Love Train [O'Jays]
Last Chance Train [Bon Jovi]
Thank You, Lord, For Sending Me The F Train [Mike Doughty]
Magic Bus [The Who]
Bus Rider [The Guess Who]
My Baby Takes The Morning Train [Sheena Easton]
Don’t Sleep In The Subway, Darling [Petula Clark]
On The 6 [J. Lo]
Take The ‘A’ Train [Duke Ellington]

Related in Random Transit-Themed Cute TV Reporters:
NY1 Staff Profile – Bobby Cuza [NY1]

NYT Corrections: Meta-mistakes and seeing double

Every so often I check out the NYT Corrections page, just for kicks. Today I was rewarded not one but two fold, like so (if indeed one can say “onefold”):

  1. Our picky pal at Regret The Error will appreciate this: while correcting an article stating that “the number of the 13 circuit courts of appeal that havemajorities of judges appointed by Republican presidents” is 10, not 9, the NYT failed to correct “havemajorities.”

  2. This one’s for fun, but also for precision: “An article in Business Day on Monday about efforts by Carl C. Icahn to propose a slate of Time Warner directors misspelled the surnames of two executives whom he had approached about serving on the board. They are J. Richard Munro, not Monroe, and Nicholas J. Nicholas Jr., not Nicolas.” Which is awesome, because we totally missed this reference to a guy named Nicholas Nicholas, and now we have a friend for Pete Peterson. If I were to be super nit-picky, I’d note that the NYT neglected to mention which “Nicholas” had been misspelled: given name or surname? That mystery is dispelled in the article, wherein he is denoted as “Nick Nicolas,” hence the correction.

Takeaway: there’s no getting around it, “Nicholas Nicholas” is a funny name. I bet he likes cous-cous. And mahi-mahi. And lives in New York, New York. Okay, I’m out.

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