Seattle’s “resurgent” audiences

I'm not convinced that the Seattle Times' 30 percent increase in print circulation, as reported by the New York Times, is cause for much optimism.

First, the increase comes from former Post-Intelligencer subscribers.  These are dyed-in-the-wool newspaper people.  We love them, but they are not new audiences.

Secondly, increases in advertising revenue no longer neatly correlate with print circulation increases.  Even when the economy picks up, I doubt that The Times will get a substantial ad revenue bump from either rate increases or new advertisers. 

Advertisers are reaching their customers in new ways; the old business models just don't apply.  The costs of providing the print edition – newsprint, ink, delivery – for 365 days a year to 30 percent more subscribers aren't covered by subscription revenue, and are now unlikely to be covered by advertising. 

The New York Times article points out that SeattlePI.com seems to have "kept most of the reader traffic it had as a newspaper site."  Also, past Seattle Times and P-I staffers have started a number of local news sites.

The audiences for news in Seattle haven't grown.  They've just shifted, from print P-I to print Seattle Times, and, increasingly, from print to online.