Baltimore Sun circulation loss narrows

The Baltimore Sun's average daily circulation for the six months that ended March 31 fell 3.9 percent, compared with results from a year earlier, as the entire newspaper industry started to show signs of improvement, the Audit Bureau of Circulations said Monday.

The Sun performed better than most major metropolitan newspapers. Nationally, average daily circulation slid 8.74 percent among 602 newspapers. The Sun's average daily circulation is 201,830. Its Sunday circulation fell 2 percent, to 344,118, while average Sunday circulation at 548 newspapers declined 6.54 percent.

Overall, newspaper circulation for the industry improved from the previous six-month period through September, when daily circulation fell by an average of 10.6 percent and Sunday circulation was down 7.5 percent on average.

"Baltimore Sun Media Group's efforts at providing readers with the content they want in the way they choose have really paid off," said Judy Berman, the media group's senior vice president of marketing. "Our key focus in recent months has been attracting and retaining Sunday subscribers, which has led to improving trends, with increases from previous year so far in 2010."

The Sun's website attracted more than 4 million unique users per month, on average, in the six months ending in March, Berman said. The monthly website audience from local residents has increased 75 percent during the past year, while mobile page views have grown to 2 million a month, Berman said.

The company also distributes 375,000 copies of b, a free daily, and 300,000 copies of 16 community newspapers.

Twenty-one of the nation's top 25 newspapers reported average daily circulation drops. Three were unable to report comparable numbers. Only The Wall Street Journal gained in sales, by less than 1 percentage point, making it the largest daily newspaper by circulation with more than 2 million subscriptions.

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