The Baltimore Sun's Sunday circulation sees modest growth

The Baltimore Sun saw its Sunday circulation increase by nearly half a percent for the six months that ended Sept. 30, becoming one of only three of the top 25 Sunday newspapers showing a gain at a time of overall declines in the industry, the Audit Bureau of Circulations reported Monday.

Sunday circulation grew to 324,018 from 322,492 last year, ABC said.

The Sun lost circulation in its daily newspaper, with a 4.4 percent decline for the April-to-September period, ABC said. Paid daily circulation fell to 178,455 subscribers, compared with 186,639 in the corresponding period in 2009, ABC said.

The report showed continued drops in daily newspaper circulation in the United States, with an average 5 percent decline for the 635 dailies that reported numbers. The rate of decline slowed from the 8.74 percent circulation drop in the previous reporting period, which ended March 31.

The industry has struggled with the loss of advertisers and readers, in part because of the rise of online outlets.

But the figures released Monday showed the Baltimore daily making up some ground in Sunday subscribers. The Sun's Sunday circulation rose 0.47 percent, ABC said. Based on paid circulation, The Sun ranked 24th in the top 25 U.S. Sunday newspapers. It ranked 22nd in March. The Sun was one of only three Sunday newspapers, along with the Minneapolis Star Tribune and the St. Petersburg Times, in the top 25 showing circulation increases, the figures showed.

Renee Mutchnik, a spokeswoman for The Baltimore Sun Media Group, publisher of The Sun, said the Sunday increase came primarily from a boost in home delivery business. She attributed the improvement to enhanced content in the newspaper, increases in subscription sales and a stronger focus on retaining subscribers. The Sun added six new sections this year and in September relaunched the Sun Magazine. Mutchnik said the developments had led to "significant increases" in the number of readers accessing The Sun through the website and mobile devices.

The Sun had a combined print and online audience of 1.1 million readers as of Sept. 30, the report said. Baltimore Sun Media Group also publishes b, a free daily, and 16 community newspapers, which represent a weekly distribution of 675,000 copies.

ABC's circulation report said that Sunday newspaper circulation across the industry fell 4.46 percent, with 553 newspapers reporting numbers.

Daily circulation rose 1.8 percent at the Wall Street Journal, the top daily, with more than 2 million subscribers. Other dailies in the top five — USA Today, the New York Times, Los Angeles Times and Washington Post — all saw circulation drop. Circulation was down 8.67 percent at the Los Angeles Times.

lorraine.mirabella@baltsun.com

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