Wall Street Journal editor Robert Thomson sent out a staff memo this week crowing about beating the NYT in circulation growth. Now the NYT strikes back with its own sternly-worded response. This is catty war!

Dear Ryan [Tate],

Your piece on the WSJ editor's leaked memo was interesting (as were the comments that followed). The memo by WSJ's Robert Thomson,
however, contained some strange analysis.

He says the Wall Street Journal was one of the only newspapers to show growth. This statement misses a major point:

The increase (0.6%) was driven by a 31,000 increase in Electronic circulation and a 102,000-copy (+21%) increase in deeply-discounted subscriptions — in some cases selling print subscriptions as a $10. "add-on" to an $89. wsj.com subscription. In reality, the Wall Street Journal lost 6% of its full-price subscriptions.

While the WSJ was up overall in copies sold, it was down 1.1% in print.

In these latest circulation figures, as filed with Audit Bureau of Circulations, subject to audit, The New York Times performed significantly better than the industry, showing modest declines (-3.5% daily, -1.7% on Sunday) in total circulation, but demonstrating strength in our National circulation as well as newsstand copies, results that were boosted by the incredible excitement during and following the election cycle.

Two years ago The New York Times changed its circulation strategy to pursue more highly-profitable, high-retention circulation, with less emphasis on things such as outbound telemarketing or special promotions that were expensive and resulted in high churn rates. Instead we are focusing on building our core of loyal readers. For example we have more than 830,000 subscribers who have been with us for two years or more, up from 650,000 in 2000. Our focus is on attracting a high-quality audience of individually-paid subscribers.

The NYT remains the largest 7-day newspaper in the U.S. and has won 101 Pulitzer Prizes and citations— including the five Pulitzers it was awarded last week — more than any other news organization.


Diane McNulty
Executive Director of Community Affairs and Media Relations