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Print sales decline not as feared for national newspapers amidst Covid-19 crisis

Posted on: May 22, 2020 by Mariella Brown

Print sales show national newspaper circulation has fallen during the lockdown – but the impact is not as steep as some in the industry had feared.

Papers reporting the biggest decline in ABC circulation from March to April were the Financial Times (39%) and the i newspaper (38%).

However, initiatives such as a six-week home delivery ensured that many print copies still reached readers in lockdown which offset the decline.

Sunday tabloids fared the best, with the Sunday Mirror, Mail on Sunday and the Sunday Express reporting a decline between 12-14 per cent.

Many readers turned to digital editions, however. The Daily Mail reported an increase of 60,000 digital edition readers while its paper circulation fell by 17 per cent. Other daily titles felt similar declines with the Guardian (-18%), Daily Express (-19%) and Daily Mirror (-18%).

Commuter titles such as the Evening Standard and the Metro were impacted by the work-from-home surge – the Metro circulation reduced by 70 per cent to just shy of 400,000 and the Standard by 40 per cent. City AM already ceased its print circulation at the start of the lockdown.

For some titles such as the i newspaper, the decline in circulation is linked to the loss of bulk free distribution to sites such as airports, gyms and railway stations.

Papers owned by News UK – The Sun, Times and Sunday Times – and the Telegraph Media Group titles did not publish their figures via the Audit Bureau of Circulations (ABC) system this time.

The full figures are available on Press Gazette.


The Atlantic reduces workforce by 17%

The Atlantic has announced it is laying off 68 staff, representing 17 per cent of total employees, in its events and sales departments as well as a small number of editorial staff.

Citing the economic squeeze put on by the coronavirus crisis, the American news magazine is also introducing pay cuts for executives and a salary freeze for other employees.

While Atlantic Media reports it has doubled its readership since the start of the pandemic, the company’s advertising and live events businesses have been harshly hit.

The American magazine, which sits behind a paywall, enjoys a readership in the UK with a team of journalists based to cover UK news.

David Bradley, chairman and owner of Atlantic Media, said in a memo to staff announcing the cutbacks: “I know that the pandemic is indiscriminate in its course, cutting through various industries and geographies. But, as has been the case for decades, our media economy is especially hard hit.” 

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