More Maine Newspaper Circulation Numbers
By Al Diamon
What’s going on in Lewiston? Last week, the Lewiston Sun Journal filed its required annual U.S. Postal Service report on circulation, in which it claimed a 9 percent increase in the average number of papers sold Monday through Saturday over the same period one year ago. This week, it’s reporting even more growth in its Sunday sales, up 17 percent, from 30,496 in 2011 to 35,727 in 2012.
That’s almost impossible to believe. Virtually all other Maine papers – dailies, weeklies, weekend editions, you name it – showed moderate declines in circulation over the past year. For instance, the rival Maine Sunday Telegram went from an average of 77,537 copies in 2011 to 73,301 this year, a drop of 5.5 percent. Even if every one of those former Telegram customers switched to the Sun Journal, it wouldn’t account for that whopping increase.
Maybe somebody in Lewiston needs to recheck those numbers.
In any case, we’ll get another chance to check circulation trends (using a slightly different set of criteria) next month when the Audit Bureau of Circulations releases its figures for Maine papers. Unfortunately, the Sun Journal hasn’t submitted its numbers to ABC for several years, so its unlikely increase in papers sold won’t be subject to reexamination.
Other numbers: The revived Courier Publishing weeklies published their Postal Service reports last week, but there’s really nothing to compare them to. That’s because in 2011, when the papers were part of the now-defunct Village Soup chain, they had different names and different circulation areas.
The Courier Gazette in Rockland used to come out three times a week. Then, it was two. Then, one. Then, Soup merged it with the Camden Herald into the Herald Gazette. Then, it renamed it the Village Soup Gazette. Then, it went out of business.
Before its demise, the Gazette, covering both Rockland and Camden, claimed it sold an average of 5,000 copies a week. If that was so, the revived CG is doing pretty well. Covering just the Rockland area, it reported to the Postal Service that it had average sales of 5,707. The newly reconstituted Camden Herald added another 1,614.
In Belfast, Courier’s Republican Journal unloaded an average of 3,739 papers weekly. Its predecessor, the Village Soup Journal, claimed 5,300.
Northeast Publishing’s Piscataquis Observer is down to 2,913 copies sold, according to its 2012 Postal Service filing. It wasn’t so long ago that the paper was closer to 4,000.
Competing coverage: A curious editorial decision was visible in the MaineToday Media newspapers on Oct. 7. The three Sunday papers – the Maine Sunday Telegram, Morning Sentinel and Kennebec Journal – all carried big features on the candidates in the race for the 2nd Congressional District seat.
That shouldn’t have been anything out of the ordinary, because the papers often run the same stories. But these weren’t the same stories.
The Sentinel and KJ carried two lengthy profiles of Republican Kevin Raye and Democrat Mike Michaud, both by staff writer Ben McCanna. The Telegram had an equally long, single story by reporter Colin Woodard that covered much the same territory.
Given that neither feature broke any new ground or did much to provide an undecided voter with information that might help in casting a ballot, this doesn’t seem like a wise allocation of resources.
Just wondering: Whatever became of Christine Rousselle? Rousselle, the 20-year-old blogger who drew national attention in 2011 with her online attack on welfare recipients, has vanished from the Portland Press Herald website. Not only are there no new postings from the youthful conservative, but her old pieces have been deleted, as well. Rousselle currently writes for TheCollegeConservative and attends Providence College.
Dish deal: Subscribers to Dish Network’s satellite service still have access to WCSH-TV in Portland and WLBZ-TV in Bangor. Gannett Co., owner of the two stations (and 17 others in cities across the country) reached a deal with Dish early on Oct. 8, heading off a blackout of NBC programming in Maine.
The dispute centered around Gannett’s demand for higher fees for its stations because Dish now offers a digital video recorder called the Hopper that allows viewers to automatically skip all commercials. Terms of the agreement were not released, according to news reports.
Photo caption of the week: From the front page of the Oct. 7 sports section in the Maine Sunday Telegram, under a picture of University of Maine football players:
“This is a three-line cutline that goes here, and that’s what still goes here, and that’s what still goes here. ill goes here, and that’s what still goes here.”
I’ll never understand college football.
Al Diamon can be emailed at email@example.com.