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February 23, 2005

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Palo Alto Online

Publication Date: Wednesday, February 23, 2005

The numbers game The numbers game (February 23, 2005)

Circulation claims by the Daily News group have been an ongoing source of confusion.

The Daily News has the unusual practice of publishing the combined distribution of its five papers on the front page of each paper. So the Palo Alto Daily News, until the day after the sale was announced, indicated a "combined" circulation of 59,117 even though the actual circulation of that paper, according to the Knight Ridder press release, was only 24,000.

Only by adding in the press runs of the Burlingame Daily News, San Mateo Daily News, Redwood City Daily News and Los Gatos Daily News does one get up to the 59,000 total.

(If the Palo Alto Weekly engaged in that practice, it could claim a combined circulation of some 78,000, adding up the circulation of the Weekly and its sister papers the Menlo Park Almanac and Mountain View Voice.)

But to make matters more confused, at the time of the Knight Ridder announcement the total combined circulation was listed at 55,000, not 59,000, and officials had no comment when asked last Wednesday night about the discrepancy. The company wasted no time, however, in changing its front pages.

In its Thursday editions, the Daily News lowered its claimed circulation number to 55,080.

The circulation of the Palo Alto Daily News alone has declined by about 20 percent over the last two and a half years, according to the newspaper's own figures.

In October, 2002, the Palo Alto Daily News reported on its website a circulation of 30,000, and then a year later its circulation statement showed a drop to 26,000. And now, as of the sale last week, it is down to 24,000.

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