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The circulation slump

Dean Baquet

Former editor, Los Angeles Times

Dean Baquet

Isn't your circulation declining?

Yeah, but I think there're a lot of reasons why, and I don't think I can blame all that on Google and Yahoo!. [One] of the reasons why circulation is declining is because some of the people who want to read the L.A. Times read it online now. I'm more excited about the prospects of the Web than I am nervous about the Googles and Yahoo!s.

The reality is, I have something like 1 million new readers on the Web that I didn't have before. The reality is I have a paper that has always struggled for national recognition. I've got a newspaper, the L.A. Times, that has been competing with The New York Times and The Washington Post for [a] generation, but because we're not nationally circulated, people don't know how good we are. Suddenly, though, on the Web, they can find out. I can have readers anywhere in the world now, and that's worth the trade-off to me. ... But again, if I was running the business side of a newspaper, I might feel the opposite.

 
John Carroll

Former editor, Los Angeles Times

John Carroll

[Why is newspaper circulation dropping?]

For a variety of reasons. There are many other ways to get your news these days, and younger people in particular prefer to get the news from the Web. But there are other reasons, too. I think that excessive cost cutting has been very damaging, not just cutting into journalism, but most papers have fewer pages today and fewer reporters today, which makes them less valuable to the reader.

But there have also been less visible cuts that have been very damaging to newspaper circulation, cuts on the business side in things like promotion and marketing and such things that are necessary to keep circulation up. A newspaper I know quite well decimated -- literally decimated -- its promotion budget. By decimated, I mean cut it by 90 percent. ... If you cut your promotion down to virtually nothing, you might as well just put a gun to the paper's head, get it over with.

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posted feb. 13, 2007; last updated feb. 27, 2007

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