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Pacifica Tribune Circulation Declines 21 Percent in Three Years

By Lionel Emde, Riptide Correspondent

The decline of local print media is documented in figures released by the Alliance for Audited Media (formerly known as Audit Bureau of Circulations), which helps determine newspaper advertising rates based on circulation.

According to reports made by the Pacifica (California) Tribune for September 30, 2010, average daily circulation was 5,126 on Wednesdays, the day of publication. But as of the September 30, 2013 report (which is still subject to an audit to be released later this spring), average daily circulation had declined 21 percent to 4,066.

The Pacifica Tribune has one of the smallest circulation figures for any of the Bay Area News Group  publications. How long will this newspaper last at the present rate of decline?


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Bobby, you're dreaming. I subscribe to both the Chron and the Merc, and they do nothing but shrink in size. That's due to a lack of ad revenue that really declined with the bursting of the real estate bubble in 2008.

Here in Pacifica it's the same, but we also have a newspaper that isn't; no news, no hard questions directed at the center of power, as pathetic as it is, and less and less connection to the community.

Newspapers are in big trouble, but print will never go away.

Believe it or not, print ads still dominate by far any other kind of marketing. People who believe newspapers are dead don't know the facts. Sure, online is growing fast and has taken market share, but only around 6 percent of all retail sales are from online.

Internet is not the primary answer to effective marketing. That's why, after spending millions on scientific studies, Fortune 500 companies like Macy's, Safeway, Lowe's, Sears, Target, et al., spend most of their marketing budgets on print.

Print revenue is half what it used to be just a few years ago. But in 2012 print revenue accounted for $18.931 billion while online was $3.370 billion.

When radio came along, they said it was the end of newspapers. Then when TV became popular, they said the same thing. And now it's the Internet.

Maybe the readership just got tired of reading misinformation, disinformation, lack of coverage of current issues in town, or out and out name calling, provided as "news"?

If we had journalists, they would do journalism. Real ones keep trying.

It pains me to agree with Hutch, but on the larger issue of newspapers nationwide, Craig's List is the demise of investigative reporting, and the printed paper, because all those little two- and three-line adds PAID FOR SO MUCH. But our local paper made a conscious choice to not ruffle feathers. So little blogs like this have become the go-to news source for local newzies.

Actually, what really hurt newspapers around the country is Craigslist, which took away papers' biggest moneymaker: classified ads. Remember whole sections on jobs, cars, miscellaneous? Mostly gone due to Craigslist. This cost tens of thousands of jobs. All by a company employing fewer than 50 people. Can't stop progress, though.

Our little Tribune, which I love, is not the only print media suffering. Old folks like me still love the print media we grew up with, but the younger generations are moving to digital formats, and it's not our city council's or the newspaper owner's fault. Its just the way of the world. If you want to blame someone, blame Steve Jobs and Bill Gates, et al. The Chronicle is so concerned about their loss of circulation that it now sends its journalists to Social Media Boot Camp:

It's like they are being pressured to not cover certain stories. Or they just don't want to make waves.

On September 10 I tried to get Elaine and Jane to do a story on the Grand Jury study of police outsourcing in Millbrae, San Carlos, and Half Moon Bay. I was told it was not relevant to Pacifica. I said, "Are you kidding me?" Nothing was more relevant at the time. Then I pointed to a story that week about the catacombs of Cypress Lawn and another story about a play in Daly City, and asked how that was more relevant to Pacifica than a serious issue we were considering. There are stories every week about crap outside of Pacifica. I was told they would try to get to it, but they never printed a word about it except my letter.

I can't wrap my head around the Trib's decision to carry the weather report -- for the week prior, but never for the coming one!

I think the paper has since stopped running it, but for a couple of years I wondered if there ever was a single person in town who picked up the paper wanting to know what last week's weather was like.

I have to agree that the Trib is not pursuing news stories very much; it is mainly about community announcements and other such "fluff." The only thing of interest for a lot of people is "letters to the editor," and (as can be seen for the past couple of months), no one has anything to gripe about lately! Possibly if the paper went out on a limb and actually reported on the "dirt" that people write letters about, it might promote more interest/readership, and ultimately more advertising.
The other thing they seem to do a lot of lately is recycling stories from the San Mateo County Times. A couple of months ago there was an article in the Times about crabbers in Half Moon Bay, and how they couldn't go out before Thanksgiving due to the rough ocean conditions. A week and a half later, the article was reprinted on the front page of the Trib -- though meanwhile the water had calmed down, the crabbers were all out on the ocean, and the article was totally irrelevant.

If you're going to mention Councilperson Mary Ann Nihart, don't forget Councilperson Len Stone. They both annihilated the Open Space and GGNRA Liaison Committees and approved the wholly incompetent "Wahlstrom Report" -- an economic development plan for Pacifica that attempts to bypass public input for our General Plan.

Additionally, they both supported the regressive property tax, Measure V. A lot of us would have supported this, if we hadn't seen such wasteful spending -- with no public input -- of public money by Nihart and Stone.

No, Hutch, I'm not. I'm talking about the more recent "years," which largely focused staff energy on staff pay, the shameless management of Steve Rhodes and the hostile workplace that he, Mary Ann Nihart, and Ann Ritzma fostered.

"That's over, though, and now we have a much better council."

Than what? In this target-rich environment, in which any enterprising journalist could thrive, we have what?

I cancelled my subscription a few years back. When news happens in Pacifica, I refer to Riptide, Fix, and Patch.

The Tribune sadly is of no help nowadays with so many Internet sites and Blogs in town now.

Good news! Pacifica's soon-to-be-announced first baby born in 2014 is a palindrome lover and has reportedly decided to subscribe. Her first words: "Birth!.....ah, Trib!"

Todd, you're talking about the Vreeland years, right? Terrible that he was never called out on his chronic absences and lack of disciplinary action as required by law. That's over, though, and now we have a much better council.

BTW, all papers have cut circulation and put more into their online presence. And newspapers still dominate any other marketing when it comes to consumers checking advertising.

Same with the San Mateo County Times. It is now the San Jose Mercury News (Semi-North) version.

Even the Realtor ads are all from Santa Clara County!

Management, well, the owners, are the biggest culprit, I think. The owners of the paper have left it to rot amid our city's most corrupted years, and have done nothing to report to the people concerning the loss of public process in favor of stories about literally nothing.

That kind of missed opportunity comes from owners, not staff. It's been a sad experience to see the local paper gutted by its owners.

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