The Cape Cod Times loses a quarter of its circulation in last decade
Dropped 16,014 copies while population increased 35,628
Cape Cod population (from the Cape Cod Times website)
1970; 96,656 1980: 147,925 1990: 186,605 2000: 222,230
Cape Cod Times circulation (from Editor & Publisher Yearbooks)
1976; 33,469 1987: 52,499 1996: 62,246 2006: 46,232
The reason the Cape Cod Times story buried in the Business section on Saturday was so disturbing to a lifelong newspaperman like myself is because this self-proclaimed "newspaper of record" is dissembling at best, if not outright misinforming their readers and advertisers at worse.
The Saturday story gave the impression that while revenues may have dropped, the newspaper's circulation was on the rise.
The reverse is the truth.
To quote their own words, "Company figures show daily circulation inched up from 41,964 in March 2006 to 42,260 last month, though Sunday circulation dipped slightly, from 47,004 to 46,232."
Staggering loss of Market Share
At its high point fifteen or twenty years ago, the local daily newspaper dominated communications here with around 67,000 circulation on Sunday, often just under 70,000 on summer Sundays. Their circulation today is a third less while the county's population has grown by over 35,000.
But simple math, if the population goes up by a quarter while circulation goes down a third, the newspaper is now reaching half of the same market they were reaching a few years ago. And the reasons are simple.
Inertia, indifference and drift
If there was one newspaper which was in a position to resist what's happened to the rest of the newspaper industry since the advent of the web's and other new media, it one like the Times in a wealthy, retirement area whose population was skyrocketing as fast as The Cape's has for decades.
It took a combination of inertia, indifference and drift for the Times management to miss this opportunity. It took a surrender to the demands of corporate headquarters despite Cape Cod Times position as the fastest growing and most profitable of the entire Dow Jones-Ottaway empire.
The story in Saturday's Times went on to state, "Times publisher Peter Meyer said he doesn’t see the cuts as a sign of long term weakness at his paper. 'It’s just an adjustment in our course," he said. "And I feel very positive about our future. '"
Good luck, Peter, but don't bet your $1.2 million house in Osterville on it.
See the original Cape Cod Times story here.