Daily circulation at The State newspaper in Columbia has fallen below 100,000, possibly for the first time since the 1960s, according to the most recent information released by the Audit Bureau of Circulations.
For the six months ended March 31, The State had an average daily circulation of 96,737, down 4 percent from a year ago, The Charlotte Observer reported Tuesday.
According to “Palmettos and Oaks: A Centennial History of The State,” the paper’s circulation first broke 100,000 in 1967 and does not appear to have dipped back below that mark until the most recent six-month period.
The State’s Sunday circulation suffered even more, falling 12 percent, to 122,539, the Audit Bureau of Circulations reported.
By comparison, the paper’s daily circulation was nearly 140,000 and Sunday circulation topped 160,000 approximately 20 years ago, shortly after it merged with The Columbia Record.
The past year has not been an easy one for The State. In March, it announced its second round of layoffs in less than year, cutting 11 percent of its workforce – 38 positions – and implementing wage reduction of between 2.5 percent and 10 percent for the rest of its employees.
Other major Carolinas’ papers also saw sharp circulation declines for the six months ended March 31:
- The Charleston Post and Courier saw a 4 percent drop in daily circulation, to 96,005, and a 4 percent drop in Sunday circulation, to 106,192.
- The Charlotte Observer lost a staggering 11 percent of its daily circulation, to 187,633.
- The Raleigh News & Observer’s daily circulation also fell 11 percent, to 156,909.
The Charlotte paper tried to put a good spin on the most recent numbers by pointing out that the combined print/online index – which reflects traffic to the newspaper’s Web site – was up 8 percent year to year to 1.07 million.
The index measures the combined audience of the newspaper over a seven-day period and the past 30 days of unique visitors to the paper’s website. Charlotte ranked eighth highest in growth in the nation in the combined index, the paper reported.
While newspaper circulation has largely been falling in the Carolinas and across the nation for some time, at least some of the decline can be attributed to papers dropping delivery to outlying areas.
Sacramento-based McClatchy Co., which owns The State, The Charlotte Observer, The Raleigh News & Observer, The Rock Hill Herald, The Myrtle Beach Sun News, The Hilton Head Island Packet and The Beaufort Gazette, reported advertising revenues off 31 percent at its Southeast newspapers in the first quarter, The Charlotte Observer reported.