The Sun's daily circulation showed signs of stabilizing in the six months ending Sept. 30, with home delivery - the largest component of the printed newspaper's sales - rising slightly, according to numbers released yesterday by the Audit Bureau of Circulations.
Combined readership of The Sun's print edition and its Web site, baltimoresun.com, reached 1.2 million adults on average - or 58 percent of the market.
This is the first time the ABC has released total-audience numbers, which newspapers argue is now a more accurate measurement of readership.
Daily home delivery of The Sun's print edition increased 0.2 percent during the period, compared with the corresponding period a year ago, as the newspaper increased marketing efforts to attract new subscribers. The last increase in home delivery subscribers was for the period that ended in March 2006.
Overall circulation for the latest period declined both daily and Sunday, as sales of single copies at retailers and other locations continued to decrease. Daily circulation declined 1 percent to 232,749, while Sunday circulation declined 4 percent to 364,827.
Most large newspapers across the country continued to lose print circulation to the Internet. Daily circulation at the more than 500 newspapers that reported to ABC was down 2.5 percent, according to an analysis by the trade publication Editor & Publisher. Sunday circulation fell 3.5 percent.
The industry has argued for years that paid circulation does not fully measure a newspaper's reach because many papers have tens of thousands of readers on the Web who do not read the printed edition. And yesterday, ABC, Scarborough Research and the Newspaper Association of America began releasing a measure that includes paid circulation, readership and Internet audience.
Sun executives said they were encouraged by the rise in home delivery numbers, because it is a more stable type of circulation. Single-copy sales are more variable and difficult to predict.
"Single copies [metrics] are not as desirable to advertisers," said Lou Maranto, Sun vice president of circulation.
Daily circulation at The Washington Post fell 3.2 percent to 635,087, and Sunday circulation was down 3.9 percent to 894,428.
At The New York Times, daily circulation fell 4.5 percent to 1.04 million, while Sunday fell 7.6 percent to 1.5 million.
The Los Angeles Times was one of a handful of major papers to show a daily circulation increase, up 0.5 percent to 779,682, although Sunday circulation fell 5.1 percent to 1.1 million. The Philadelphia Inquirer posted a 2.3 percent increase in daily circulation to 338,620, although its Sunday circulation fell 2.9 percent to 662,304. The daily circulation at USA Today rose 1 percent to 2.3 million; it does not publish a Sunday edition.