March 25, 2023

Media Decoder Blog: Digital Gains Help Newspaper Circulation Figures

A steady increase in digital circulation has helped newspapers combat the pressures on their print product, with average daily and Sunday circulation remaining essentially flat for the sixth-month period ending Sept. 30.

Digital circulation accounted for 15.3 percent of the total average circulation for newspapers in that period, up from 9.8 percent in the same period a year ago, an increase of more than 50 percent, according to figures released Tuesday by the Audit Bureau of Circulation. Those figures include readers using smartphones, tablets, e-readers or metered Web sites, the bureau said.

Daily circulation decreased an average of 0.2 percent during the six-month period for the 613 newspapers that report comparable figures. Sunday circulation increased by 0.6 percent, the data showed.

Digital gains helped some newspapers make striking gains in overall daily circulation. The New York Times, for instance, had an increase of more than 40 percent in total circulation, from 1,150,589 in 2011 to 1,613,865 in the period ended Sept. 30 this year. Its average digital circulation for Monday-Friday totaled just over 896,000, and increase of 136 percent over a year ago. The Wall Street Journal gained about 200,000 in daily circulation from 2011 and had a digital circulation of 794,594.

The Journal had the highest total daily circulation, the figures showed, followed by USA Today and The New York Times. USA Today had the biggest print circulation. The Times’s average daily print circulation was 717,513, a 7 percent decline, and its Sunday average declined by 1.8 percent, to 1,250,077.

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Media Decoder Blog: Berkshire Hathaway Buys Omaha Newspaper

1:06 p.m. | Updated Berkshire Hathaway, Warren Buffett’s Omaha-based business conglomerate, is buying the Omaha World-Herald Company, publisher of Nebraska’s principal daily newspaper, The World-Herald, as well as six other daily papers.

Mr. Buffett, Berkshire’s chairman and chief executive, and Terry Kroeger, the chief executive of the newspaper company, announced the purchase on Wednesday. No terms were disclosed. The deal is expected to be completed by the end of the year, pending approval of the Omaha World-Herald shareholders, including current and retired employees.

Mr. Buffett, who in the past has expressed reservations about the newspaper industry, said The World-Herald “delivers solid profits and is one of the best-run newspapers in America.” He pledged that the paper would continue to have editorial independence despite being owned by a prominent hometown business.

In a statement, Mr. Kroeger said that Mr. Buffett’s offer to purchase the company “presented a unique opportunity to address our long-term capital needs and continue local ownership of the Omaha World-Herald, which is consistent with the legacy left to us by Mr. Kiewit.” Peter Kiewit, the owner of an Omaha-based construction and mining company, purchased the paper in 1962.

After Mr. Kiewit’s death in 1979, 80 percent of the paper became owned by employee shareholders and 20 percent by the Peter Kiewit Foundation. The paper was founded in 1885 by Gilbert Hitchcock.

According to the Audit Bureau of Circulation, the World-Herald has an average weekday circulation of 135,282.

Berkshire Hathaway also owns The Buffalo News, and is the largest shareholder in the Washington Post with about 21 percent of the publicly traded shares. In January, Mr. Buffett left the board of the Washington Post Company.

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