The audience reading The Salt Lake Tribune surged at one of the fastest rates among U.S. newspapers as readership continued to migrate to digital sources of news and information.
The Tribune's combined audience of print and online readers totaled 712,034 in the six months through March, the Audit Bureau of Circulations (ABC) said Tuesday.
The audience count represents the number of people who have read the paper in the past seven days, looked at the paper online in the past 30 days or both.
The 9.8 percent increase compared with the same six-month period a year earlier put The Tribune at No. 5 among U.S. newspapers, according to ABC.
The size of a newspaper's audience is a window into its future because it gives would-be advertisers a good idea how many people might view their advertisements.
"It is relied upon in the planning and buying of local media, in other words, advertising," said Allyson Mongrain, director of marketing communications for Scarborough Research, a New York-based consumer research company.
Scarborough compiled print and online readership numbers at The Tribune and other U.S. papers. ABC audited the numbers.
ABC also said The Tribune was among the top 25 newspapers publishing digital editions. With 31,582 weekday subscribers to its electronic edition, Utah's largest paper was 21st on the list, ahead of the Dallas Morning News and the Seattle Times. Digital readership of The Tribune jumped 35Â½ percent, according to ABC.
The Tribune's electronic edition is a duplicate of the paper's print product and counts as paid circulation, according to ABC rules.
"We've known for a long time that a migration [to online] is under way. The pace changes depending on the season and the news, but readers want good journalism. They want news they can be confident it is as accurate as can be," Tribune Editor Nancy Conway said.
"Don't count us out, and don't think we can't compete online because we can," Conway said.
The Deseret News, which has been pushing hard to build up its online standing since Clark Gilbert became president of the LDS Church-owned paper last year, did not make either ABC list. Its combined print and online audience fell 5 percent to 524,830 in the period ending March 31, according to ABC.
Gilbert declined to discuss his paper's performance.
The Tribune's larger audience in the October-through-March period wasn't enough to offset a 0.4 percent reduction in weekday paid circulation or the 2.6 percent drop in Sunday readership. Still, the declines weren't as severe as previous downswings.
The circulation numbers aren't directly comparable to last year because ABC changed its rules governing what counts as circulation.
The weekday circulation of the News increased 1.7 percent during the period, rising to slightly more than 73,000. Sunday circulation was essentially unchanged. It rose by 72 subscribers to 79,435, according to ABC.
The Wall Street Journal is the largest U.S. newspaper. Its average weekday circulation is 2.1 million.
USA Today is No. 2 with 1.8 million, and The New York Times is third with more than 900,000 on average Monday to Friday.
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Utah newspaper circulation
For the six-month period ended March 31 compared with the same period a year earlier, here's how the state's two largest newspapers fared:
The Salt Lake Tribune
Weekdays* • 113,032 vs. 113,474, down 0.4 percent
Sundays* • 126,525 vs. 129,898, down 2.6 percent
Print and online audience ** • 712,034 vs. 648,432, up 9.8 percent
Weekdays* • 73,075 vs. 71,821, up 1.7 percent
Sundays* • 79,435 vs. 79,363, up .09 percent
Print and online audience ** • 524,830 vs. 552,507, down 5 percent
* Circulation numbers are not directly comparable because of new Audit Bureau of Circulation rules governing what counts as circulation.
** Figures represent the number of people who have read the paper in the last seven days, looked at the paper online in the last 30 days, or both.
Source: Audit Bureau of Circulation