Circulation falls 2.8%  at U.S. newspapers

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NEW YORK -- Daily circulation fell 2.8 percent at U.S. newspapers in the six-month period ending in September, an industry group reported Monday, the latest sign of struggle as newspapers try to hold on to paying readers.

Sunday circulation fell 3.4 percent in the same period, according to the Newspaper Association of America's calculations of data supplied by the Audit Bureau of Circulations.

The latest decline is in line with a long-term trend of falling circulation as newspapers battle with ever-increasing demands on readers' time as well as rapid changes in reading and advertising habits due to the growth of Internet use.

Gannett Co.'s USA Today remained the top-selling newspaper in the country with average paid circulation of 2,269,509, but that was down 1.3 percent from the comparable period a year earlier.

The Wall Street Journal, published by Dow Jones & Co., kept its No. 2 spot at 2,043,235, down 1.9 percent. The New York Times was next with 1,086,798, down 3.5 percent.

The Los Angeles Times, published by Tribune Co., suffered the largest drop among major newspapers with a decline of 8 percent in the period to 775,766, which the paper attributed to ongoing efforts to cut back on third-party circulation.

Those copies, which are often distributed to schools, hotels, hospitals and other public places, tend to be less valued by advertisers. The Los Angeles Times said it has been reducing that kind of circulation in favor of individually paid copies.

New York's two tabloids were the only papers in the top 20 to win circulation gains in the period. The New York Post, owned by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp., reported a 5.1 percent gain to 704,011, edging ahead of its rival the New York Daily News, owned by the real estate developer Mortimer Zuckerman, which had a gain of 1 percent to 693,382.
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