U-T Circulation Plummets While Publisher Sees ‘Digital Future’

Written by Amanda Angulo

On Thursday, publisher Jeff Light stated that The San Diego Union Tribune would publish only once a week, but a date for that has not been determined yet. In an email he sent that day, he wrote that the future for the Union-Tribune would be that of other big newspapers, to take it on the online platform, but keeping Sunday as a print day. 

And while the publisher likes to boast about the paper’s success, it really means that their average circulation numbers are dropping. For instance, last year he claimed that U-T was a “strong and profitable company” when in reality, their average circulation dropped from 104,377 to 87,834. 

If their average annual decline does not change, then they are expected to see a drop in their print copies. By 2022, they are on track to sell 56,661 daily papers. This number drops to 30,422 by 2026. Out of 1.13 million households in this country, only 30,422 households will be purchasing daily prints from the Union-Tribune. 

They are choosing to make this switch soon although they receive most of their revenue from selling prints. After a study made by journalism professors, U-T’s digital newspapers only brought in $3.34 million, when their print-editions brought in $30.8 million. Additionally, they are encouraging their print-readers to switch onto the digital newspaper. 

However, most of their print-readers are of the older populations. Ages 55 and older. So how are they going to teach this audience how to navigate the digital edition? One source stated, “the answer, best I can tell, is nothing.” The source continued, “newspaper readers receive no ‘training’ on how best to use the website. They need to be directed to the site. Instead the attitude is ‘our newspaper subscribers are all old and will be dead in a few years, so why bother.’”

Photo Cred: Chris Jennewein