Not only is The State losing 5,000 readers each year, in 2009 it will be surpassed by the Post and Courier in total daily readership.
The State, a daily newspaper owned by a California based corporation, is set to be eclipsed in readership by the family owned Charleston Post and Courier next year. A great insight into the ongoing decline of The State -a paper that is outspoken in its opposition to school choice- can be found on the pages of Monday’s left-leaning New York Times.
First is an article entitled “Papers Facing Worst Year for Ad Revenue Yet” which explains how most newspapers are floundering due to a drop off in advertisement income:
“Analysts and newspaper executives find themselves revising their forecasts downward every few months, unable to gain a stable footing on a sinking floor. Papers have cut costs by shedding thousands of workers, eliminating some distribution routes and printing fewer, smaller pages, but profit margins continue to shrink.”
The author acknowledges that the weak economy plays a part in papers’ woes, but argues that long term changes in the industry are the primary cause. He notes that when papers go online to recapture their former readers, they make very little from internet advertising revenue, and rarely succeed in (re)attracting readers at the pace they are losing them.
On the next page, an article entitled “Study Finds Imbalance on 3 Newspapers’ Op-Ed Pages” speaks to the fact that print papers are drifting further to the left in their editorial policies, and less likely to provide balance through the use of opposition editorials:
“At each newspaper, 90 to 95 percent of the published articles agreed with the editorial page stance on the issue at hand, they wrote, and when the opinion pieces disagreed, ‘it was usually in a point/counterpoint format where at least one of the authors by definition had to take a view in opposition.’”
These basic and interrelated problems (fewer readers, less ad revenue, and a zealously partisan editorial policy) are clear in the recent case of a strong anti payday lending stance (both in editorials and in “news” articles) and a subsequent colluded effort with the marketing department in order to persuade payday lobbying associations to take out defensive advertisements in The State.
While The State leans further left, and gets desperate with advertisers, Charleston’s Post and Courier is bucking the national trends. According to BurrellesLuce‘s annual ranking of the top 100 daily newspapers, The State is losing 5,000 readers a year, while the Post and Courier is actually gaining readership, and is set to become South Carolina’s most read daily in 2009. Unlike The State, the Post and Courier is a family owned paper, and demonstrates some balance on its opinion page.
As The State‘s owners at McClatchy continue to cut staff and editors veer left, we can only expect the paper to disenfranchise more readers and suffer the resultant drop in circulation based ad revenue.