National Newspaper Circulation Down; Utah ‘Maintaining or Rising’

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    By Matthew Allen

    Figures released Monday, (Oct. 30, 2006) show daily circulation of U.S. newspapers has fallen another 2.8 percent, leaving many wondering what the future holds for the industry.

    However, Utah newspapers have managed to avoid the decline, and experts agree the future looks bright for Utah publications.

    “Newspapers in Utah are either maintaining or rising,” said Michael J. Fox, executive director of the Utah Press Association.

    Fox attributes Utah newspapers” success to their knowledge and application of the Internet and to the state”s rapid growth.

    “Newspapers here in Utah have been very aggressive with putting their news on the Internet,” Fox said. “The younger audience is going to the web, so doing that is very important.”

    Experts attribute the nationwide circulation decline to younger people favoring web versions over print versions of the news. As a result, utilizing the Internet will be crucial for the longevity and success of a newspaper, Fox said.

    Tom Baden, executive director of The Salt Lake Tribune, said the Tribune staff is making their Web site a priority, and the extra work is paying off.

    “Our web readership and Internet readership is up,” Baden said. “We”ve never had more Salt Lake Tribune readers than we do right now.”

    Baden said all aspects of The Tribune have evolved and improved over the last few years, but the addition of blogs, podcasts, and a philosophy of putting information on the web first so the news is constantly up to date, is what has made the newspaper so successful.

    “We are very committed to improving both the paper and the Web site for our readers,” Baden said.

    This commitment to the reader has apparently paid off.

    Baden said since the last reporting period, readership, as well as circulation of the newspaper, has gone up.

    Circulation of The Deseret News is also up, but John Hughes, editor-and-chief operation officer of the newspaper, is aware of the fact that circulation could go down, and said innovative methods of attracting and retaining readers is necessary.

    In addition to the Internet, Hughes said The Deseret News is using niche publications to attract readers with specific interests.

    “The Utah County Life tabloid that we publish once a week is an example of this,” Hughes said. “We are also currently working on other niche publications that will attract new readers.”

    Hughes acknowledged that circulation of daily newspapers is indeed dropping, but he said he is optimistic about the future of The Deseret News and other major publications.

    “In spite of circulation being down, I don”t think the daily newspaper will fade,” Hughes said. “There is no credible news online without a major news organization behind it.”

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