The latest Audit Bureau of Circulation figures must have publisher Mi-Ai Parrish and other top KC Star executives squirming.
Daily circulation (Monday to Friday) has hit a new low in the modern era.
For the first time since the paper passed the 200,000 mark on the way up to that level — probably 60 or 70 years ago — it now is below 200,000.
Daily circulation had been 209,258 for the six-month period ending March 31 of this year.
The dip below 200,000 hurts in more than just the pride category: Those big, round, benchmark figures are important to advertisers. Where a little over 200,000 weekday circulation might draw a shrug from advertisers, the new low would likely draw some frowns and consternation..maybe even a re-evaluation of ad placements and an attempt to negotiate lower rates.
Another shaky development was on Sunday circulation, which is now above the 300,000 mark by the thickness of a piece of newsprint, at 300,450.
For the previous six-month period, total average Sunday circulation was 305,113.
Actually, Sunday circulation dipped below 300,000 at one point last year, but it regained the 300,000 plateau in the spring, after a an ABC rules change allowed papers to include in their figures newspapers distributed through Newspapers in Education (NIE) programs and copies sold in bulk to places like hotels and restaurants.
Now, it would appear, Sunday circulation will fall below 300,000 next March, barring unforeseen, favorable developments.
As recently as March 2009, Sunday circulation stood at 333,000.
Despite the lower numbers, The Star’s circulation still looks pretty good when compared to that of The St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Although it has the benefit of being in a much larger market, the P-D’s daily circulation, at 191,631, is less than The Star’s.
The P-D is still above 300,000 on Sunday, at 332,825.
Back on the journalistic front, The Star’s Glenn E. Rice had an exceptional story in Wednesday’s paper about the comings and goings of Lisa Irwin’s parents the night she disappeared.
Rice, who has been in on the story from the beginning, hit a home run with his straight-to-the point lead paragraph.
“The night before her 10-month-old daughter disappeared, Deborah Bradley spent several hours talking with a friend, smoking cigarettes and drinking five to 10 glasses of wine.”
From there, Rice gave a no-frills, right-down-the-line account of what took place in the Bradleys’ house that night…well, everything, of course, besides what happened to Lisa.
Wisely, Rice kept his voice out of the story and simply let the facts spill out. (Rice relied on an anonymous source who was “familiar with the family’s recollection of events from Oct. 3 and 4.”)
From the story, it appears to me that neither of them attempted to cover up anything that night. I now tend to think it was either an abduction — perhaps by someone familiar with Deborah’s drinking habits and Jeremy Bradley’s working schedule — or maybe a “baby giveaway.”
Maybe Lisa was interfering with Lisa’s wine-drinking sessions and had simply become too much of a bother for her. Also, if Deborah was drinking as much as she said the night of Oct. 3, I don’t think she would have had her wits about her enough to engineer, God forbid, the murder of her child without leaving any telltale evidence.
Of course, we don’t know everything that the police have — and they seem to think Deborah had something to do with the disappearance — but the fact that the mystery has gone on this long tends to indicate that clues are in short supply.