Dr Mumbo

Apparently last year was a golden age for newspapers

It’s tough being a cheerleader for the newspaper industry when circulations are in ongoing decline.

So Dr Mumbo appreciates that Newspaper Works is merely doing its job when it uses the headline “Sales ease in soft news period” in a press release to describe a fall in circulation of all but three of the nationa’s 31 audited metro titles.

But where the organisation really starts earning its keep is in its creativity for explaining why things aren’t as bad as they may look:  

Australian newspaper sales eased in the March 2010 quarter, a period of news that was generally soft, especially compared with the first three months of last year when a series of major news events helped drive Australian newspaper circulation.

Nevertheless, Australians continued to buy 20 million newspapers every week in the latest quarter, a figure which The Newspaper Works CEO Tony Hale described as “very significant relative to the total Australian population”.

“The early months of last year were punctuated by some of the more momentous news events of the decade,” Hale said.  “Circulation during that period was stronger because, as we’ve seen so often, Australians turn to newspapers in tough times or when there is news of great significance,” he added.

Between January and March 2009, major news events at home included the Victorian bushfires and the Federal Government’s household stimulus package in response to the Global Financial Crisis, then at its peak.

Overseas, the inauguration on January 20 of US President Barack Obama produced a surge in newspaper sales in Australia.

“These three events generated enormous interest and helped drive newspaper sales. By contrast, the first three months of 2010 have not produced stories of the same magnitude and as a result we’ve seen, not surprisingly, slightly lower results,” Hale said.

Cripes – it must have been boom time for Australian newspapers a year ago – even a new golden age, by the sounds of it. No doubt at the time, Newspaper Works was admitting how this amazing result was down to all sort of external factors. Happily the press release from 12 months ago is still on their website:

Figures released today by the Audit Bureau of Circulations show Australian newspaper circulations were stable for the three months ending March 31, 2009 across the national, metropolitan and regional newspaper categories.

Overall circulations showed a dip of just 0.9% year-on-year, despite sharp declines in the same period for economic indicators such as new motor vehicle and real estate sales.

“The latest ABC circulation figures show Australian newspaper sales continue to be robust, with Australians collectively buying over 20 million newspapers every week,” The Newspaper Works CEO, Tony Hale, said.

The figures also prove that newspaper sales are going against the trend in the US and UK where, according to their most recent circulation figures, sales of daily newspapers fell by 7%* and 4%** respectively.

Dr Mumbo can’t wait for the next excuse press release.


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