St. Louis Post-Dispatch Sunday Circulation Plummets

click to enlarge The latest circulation numbers aren't miraculous at all.
The latest circulation numbers aren't miraculous at all.
Across the country, the rate of decline at America's largest newspapers has begun to slow. For the last six months, they averaged a drop of 4.99 percent in paid circulation Monday through Friday, and 4.46 percent on Sunday, according to a report just out today from the Audit Bureau of Circulations. Believe it not, in an industry reeling from readers' online migration, that kind of decrease passes for good news.

But the St. Louis Post-Dispatch did nothing to help those numbers. Its Sunday circulation dropped a much higher-than-average 8.93 percent, Media Life Magazine reports.

Of the 25 newspapers in the country with the highest circulation, only four -- the Detroit Free-Press, Newsday, the Boston Globe and the Cleveland Plain Dealer -- showed bigger declines.

The Sunday paper has long been the P-D's bright spot. More than 100,000 additional readers get the Sunday edition delivered than do so Monday through Friday. And in previous Audit Bureau reports in October 2008 and March 2009, the Post-Dispatch was one of the few papers in the country to report gains in its Sunday circulation. (See also this link from the RFT.)

Most recently, in March, the P-D posted a much smaller Sunday decline, of just 3.8 percent. That was better than the average of its peers.

So what happened in the last six months? Maybe those new subscribers from 2008 and 2009 all decided to quit. Maybe the economy has gotten so rotten that even a Sunday paper feels like a luxury. We've got a message out to Post-Dispatch publisher Kevin Mowbray. We'll update this post if we hear back.

But as for finding answers in the P-D itself, don't hold your breath: The brief story displayed on the newspaper's website,, ignores the local angle and doesn't even mention the Post-Dispatch's big Sunday drop.

About The Author

Sarah Fenske

Sarah Fenske is the executive editor of Euclid Media Group, overseeing publications in eight cities. She is the former host of St. Louis on the Air and was previously editor-in-chief of the RFT and the LA Weekly. She lives in St. Louis.
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