Thursday, November 10, 2011

Anchorage Daily News Loses Almost 30% of Subscribers in Three Years

In the three years since Sarah Palin was named the Vice Presidential nominee of the Republican party the Anchorage Daily News has lost 29.23% of its subscribers.

Audit Bureau of Circulations reports Anchorage Daily News paid circulation at 43,794 as of September 30, 2011 (though the newspaper's website posting today notes "yesterday 159,853 visitors viewed"). The Anchorage Daily News circulation for September 30, 2008, the month when Palin officially become the Republican Vice Presidential nominee, was 61,882. In three years more than 18,000 subscribers left.

The September 1, 2008, Anchorage Daily News ran a nice "isn't this great" lower front page story (with photo) on Palin's parents dealing with the upheaval in their life because of her nomination ("World's Gaze Falls on Wasilla, Palin's Folks: Amid Swarm, Chuck Heath says: 'I just hate not being hospitable'). It even ran a quarter column top of the front page Associated Press article about her qualifications ("Is Palin Qualified? Just Look Says GOP: REASONS: Proximity to Russia, Mayoral Experience Cited"). Imagine that. Proximity to Russia was accepted by Associated Press as a real qualification pre-Charlie Gibson.

The next day saw the beginning of the Anchorage Daily News' growing disenchantment with all things Palin. On September 2 there was a front page banner headline running the full width of the paper on Bristol's pregnancy ("Pregnancy Steals Spotlight") with a back page story on the difficulty of finding Alaskans who could substantiate her vetting ("VETTING: It's tough to find Alaskans who were queried about Palin").

From then on the Anchorage Daily News began to take a much tougher stance (sometimes almost childishly so) on Palin. The iciness was well expressed by Anchorage Daily News former editorial page editor Michael Carey less than a month after Palin's nomination.
"Sarah Palin may be making new friends as she campaigns the nation, but at home, she's making new enemies. She better get elected vice president. If she returns to Alaska as governor, the reception will be frosty -- and not because winter has arrived.

"In the last month, Palin has become something inconceivable during her first two years as the state's chief executive: A polarizing figure rapidly emptying the storehouse of good will she accumulated."
[emphasis added]
The Anchorage Daily News' three year circulation drop rate is twice as bad as that of, for example, the Oregonian (circulation down 14.31% in three years).

Maybe Alaskan readers noticed the Anchorage Daily News growing more and more "frosty" in its unfairness toward Palin. Something to think about anyway.


MAX Redline said...

It's interesting to see such a significant drop over such a brief period of time. However, newspapers in general are shedding subscribers at astonishing rates. I believe it was Business Week who recently published a list of some two dozen things headed for certain extinction, and the list included newspapers, rewritable cds, low-end cameras (most phones incorporate cameras), land-line telephones, and a number of other common items.

T. D. said...

Exactly right, Max, that newspapers as a whole are struggling--with only the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times among the top newspapers having actually grown in subscriptions since March 2005 (when I started to keep stats). WSJ's growth has been slight, mostly keeping pace. The NYT's growth, all in the past six months, has been on the digital side with major bleeding continuing on the print side.

In case you're interested, I have a few more details on the Anchorage Daily News (ADN). The ADN's 30% nosedive in three years deserves a bit of a headline even within Alaska.

The only other Alaska newspaper ABC tracks is the News-Miner from Fairbanks. My stats go back only a year and a half for the News-Miner, but the difference in drop in paid circulation between the two is striking even in that time period.

In a year and a half the News-Miner has seen a 3% drop compared to a 10.6% drop at the Anchorage Daily News for the same period. That's more than a 3x greater drop rate for ADN in a similar market. So, ADN seems to be facing something more than just the bad market climate for newspapers both nationally and in Alaska.

MAX Redline said...

Yes, as I noted, it's a significant and rapid drop for ADN; even The Zero isn't going quite that fast.

I suspect that the article listing land-line phones as headed for extinction was written by an east-coastie, as they don't seem to know much about the wide-open spaces of the West. For that same reason, I don't expect that newspapers are headed for extinction, either - except in places like Anchorage, Seattle, Portland, etc.

T. D. said...


I think you're right on landlines.

Here's something interesting. Willamette Week just posted a column about its success. Apparently WW readership is growing. (ABC doesn't measure it. So, I have no stats.)

"Finally, our audience continues to grow—it’s significantly over 450,000 a month, including Web viewers. Our average reader is well under 40. In this digital era, that’s crazily counterintuitive, and contradicts the notion there’s not a market for serious news among Portland’s most active media audiences."

Though WW is way to the left, it has done good reporting on political elites that the Oregonian has not only given a pass to (Goldschmidt) but defended against whistle blowers (Adams).

Thanks, Max, for your thought expanding comments.

Ten Mile Island said...

And then you find out, BLAMMO!

T. D. said...

Nothing like hard facts to clear the mind.

Thanks for stopping by, TMI!