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Originally published Monday, April 26, 2010 at 12:53 PM

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U.S. newspaper circulation falls 8.7 percent

Circulation continues to drop severely at U.S. newspapers, though the rate of decline slowed from the previous six-month reporting period.

The Associated Press and Seattle Times business staff

Circulation continues to drop severely at U.S. newspapers, though the rate of decline slowed from the previous six-month reporting period.

Figures released Monday by the Audit Bureau of Circulations show average weekday circulation fell 8.7 percent in the six months that ended March 31, compared with the same period a year earlier. Sunday circulation fell 6.5 percent.

That's a slight improvement from April through September of last year, when average weekday circulation dropped 10.6 percent from a year earlier and Sunday circulation fell 7.5 percent.

The Seattle Times' daily circulation for the period reached 263,468, compared with 203,175 a year ago. Those figures are not directly comparable, however, because the 2009 numbers covered a period when the Seattle Post-Intelligencer still published a print newspaper.

The last print copy of the P-I, owned by The Hearst Corp., appeared March 17, 2009, and many P-I readers were converted to Times subscribers. The Times' Sunday circulation reached 356,944 in the current report, down 5.2 percent from the year-ago period.

Nationally, the top 25 newspapers in the country showed some huge circulation losses.

USA Today lost 13.6 percent of its circulation and averaged 1.83 million. USA Today's decline last year allowed The Wall Street Journal to surpass it as the newspaper with the biggest U.S. circulation. In Monday's report, the Journal once again posted the only gain in circulation among the top 25 newspapers that had comparable figures from a year ago. It grew its circulation 0.5 percent to 2.09 million.

However, the Journal would have had a slight decline in circulation were it only counting printed newspapers. The Journal's paid online circulation rose about 31,000 from a year ago to 414,025, offsetting a decline of about 20,000 on the print side.

The No. 3 newspaper, The New York Times, reported an 8.5 percent decline in weekday circulation during the most recent period and a 5.2 percent drop on Sundays. The Times' average circulation was 951,063 on weekdays and 1.38 million on Sundays.

In Washington state, daily- newspaper publishers followed the overall trend of circulation declines. The News Tribune in Tacoma saw its daily circulation drop 14.6 percent to 87,315 from 102,200. Sunday circulation declined 13.7 percent to 99,152 from 114,858.

The Spokane Spokesman-Review reported 76,291 daily, down 10.5 percent from 85,222. The paper's Sunday circulation was 95,939, down 10.6 percent from 107,297 a year ago.

Newspapers in Yakima and Walla Walla, both owned by The Seattle Times Co., showed smaller declines. The Yakima Herald-Republic's daily circulation dropped 6 percent to 32,413 from 34,493. The Walla Walla Union-Bulletin had circulation of 12,269, down 6.4 percent from 13,113 the year before.

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