Alliance for Audited Media

The Alliance for Audited Media issued its last-ever six-month circulation report today. Here are the top newspapers in the U.S., by total average circulation in September 2014:

  1. USA Today (4,139,380)
  2. The Wall Street Journal (2,276,207)
  3. The New York Times (2,134,150)

AAM is discontinuing the print report in favor of more detailed, more frequent reports on individual titles. This edition doesn't include comparisons to previous totals, which is kind, in a way, as rule changes have made comparisons to past performance, or other publications, increasingly difficult.

A peek behind those great numbers shows why. Let's start with USA Today, whose Monday-Friday total average circulation rocketed 43 percent, from 2,876,586 to 4,139,380. Its average Monday-Friday print circulation dropped 17 percent over September 2013, from 1,316,865 to 1,083,200. But USA Today has used AAM rule changes to post astonishing circulation increases since this time last year: a 67 percent rise in September 2013, a 94 percent rise in March of this year. It counts digital editions and the "butterfly" editions that run in other Gannett-owned newspapers, for instance, which is part of the reason it now avers a Sunday circulation of 3,686,797 even though it doesn't run a traditional edition that day.

The Journal actually saw a tiny increase in average Monday-Friday print circulation over September 2013 -- a rise of 3,680 copies, or .27 percent. Its total average Monday-Friday circulation centimetered up to 2,276,207 from 2,273,767.

And the Times' average Sunday print circulation fell 3.5 percent, to 1,181,160 from 1,224,069 in September 2013. Its average Monday-Friday print circulation fell 5.4 percent over the same period, to 639,887 from 676,633.

AAM cautions against making comparisons to past numbers while describing its rule changes this year. It previously allowed newspapers to count branded editions (which could be a lawn-delivered total market coverage product, or a Spanish-language edition, or in the case of The New York Times, the International New York Times) and digital nonreplica editions, which can include apps.

Just for the heck of it, here are a few more newspaper numbers:

The Washington Post's average Sunday print circulation fell 5.7 percent, to 568,365 from 602,830 in September 2013. Its average Monday-Friday print circulation fell nearly 7 percent, to 377,466 from 405,035 over the same period. Its total average circulation on Sundays fell 3 percent, to 776,806 from 800,643.

The Los Angeles Times' average Sunday print circulation fell 6.5 percent, to 685,473 from 733,101 in September 2013. Its average Monday-Friday print circulation fell nearly 7 percent over the same period, to 370,990 from 398,202. Its total average circulation on Sundays was very slightly up, to 965,598 from 963,751.

The Orange County Register, which has pursued a print-first strategy, saw its average Sunday print circulation rise 24 percent, 333,661 from 267,121 in September 2013.