ProJo readership tanks (again)
Readership of the Providence Journal is eroding faster than a sandy South County beach in a hurricane, according to the latest circulation figures from the Audit Bureau of Circulations.
The news is even worse for the ProJo, according to data compiled by the always-alert Ted Nesi of WPRI. Nesi reports that the Journal sold an average of 85,496 print copies on weekdays in the 6-month period between Oct. 1 and March 31, a decrease of 7 percent from the same period a year earlier.
More ominous, however, is the decline in online visitors to its web site. Providencejournal.com had 868,693 unique visitors as of March 31, down from 1.2 million on the old Projo.com web site in the 6 months that ended last September 30. The paper replaced Projo.com last fall with the new Providencejournal.com site that carries short news briefs and a digital version of the dead-tree paper. And the paper put up a pay wall at the end of February in an attempt to stanch the loss of readers to the free web news.
The circulation downturns are notable because they come in the aftermath of a big multi-media advertising campaign to build the ProJo’s brand. But the paper also outsourced its circulation efforts and that doesn’t look like a smart move at this time. Maybe the paper should have invested the ad dollars into journalistic content. Or maybe the ad campaign was done poorly.
The problems with the web site are many. It is hard to navigate and is rarely updated. And, unlike other web sites, such as the Boston Globe, the ProJo is not leveraging its assets well by providing smart web content, such as blogs from its reporters, many of whom are the best at their beats in our cozy little state.
The web site is not updated frequently, compared to other news sites. (Sports does better at this than news). And the site is clunky and user-unfriendly. Compare it to the Globe’s web site.
Even the advertising-and-insert-thick Sunday Journal is hurting, according to the ABC figures. Sunday circulation is 122,279, a drop of more than 8,000 since the March 2011 data.
Figures from the e-editions are too small to bother reporting; less than 300 according to the ABC.
The circulation numbers look austere indeed if compared to the ProJo’s heyday back in the 198s and 1990s. Print circulation was 203,647 on an average weekday in 1990 and 163,122 in 2000.