The Washington Times is now being sold at 2,100 new locations across the metropolitan area, the outgrowth of a new circulation strategy that has doubled the newspaper’s sales locations over the past month.
The new outlets include major book stores such as Barnes & Noble, 7-Eleven convenience stores, drugstores including CVS, Walgreens and Rite-Aid, major gas station franchises, larger grocery stores, major hotel chains and restaurants such as Panera Bread and Chick-fil-A.
The effort is aimed at increasing single-copy sales at a time when circulation is down across the industry and The Times’ audience has expanded with a nationally syndicated radio show, new television partnerships and an expanded Web presence.
“We’ve heard from a growing number of people across the Metro area and across the country who want to pick up a copy of our paper when they hear about one of our stories, and we’re excited that we can make it easier for them to do so,” said John Solomon, executive editor and vice president of content at the newspaper.
The new sales locations are part of a broader audience development plan implemented by Frank Grow, the newspaper’s vice president for strategic development; and Jim Howell, the new circulation director.
The changes include an expanded partnership with The Washington Post, which last month took over distribution and delivery of more of The Times’ newspapers to home subscribers and sales locations across the Metro area.
In addition to new store locations, The Times plans to put more newspaper racks and boxes back on the streets.
“In the near future we will be systematically adding more rack locations to our over 1,500 existing locations,” said Mr. Howell, who added that the new distribution system is operating smoothly.
According to numbers released Monday by the Audit Bureau of Circulations, U.S. newspaper circulation sank to its lowest level in seven decades. Nationwide, newspapers have lost 10.6 percent of paying readers from April through September, compared with 2008.
The Times performed slightly better, with its combined circulation of home delivery, single copy and electronic edition falling by 7.8 percent during that same period.
The biggest drop for The Times came with a decision by executives earlier this year to end most of its bulk circulation - newspapers given away free without generating revenue. Overall paid circulation stood at 67,148 at the end of September.
“By making this change, we saved newsprint costs, focused on building stronger relationships with paying customers and improved our overall revenue picture even in the midst of a recession,” Mr. Solomon said.
One of the biggest improvements came among readers who renewed their subscriptions early: About 26 percent of Times home subscribers in 2009 have renewed their subscriptions with a two-year commitment.
Revenue from single-copy sales of the daily paper grew more than 17 percent in the past year.
And The Washington Times National Edition - a weekly publication mailed to customers nationwide - reported a healthy increase in paid circulation from 41,000 in early 2008 to 53,000 in September. The Times’ “e-edition,” which delivers a digital replica of the print edition to subscribers’ e-mail inboxes, also increased from 1,337 subscribers to 4,297 - a gain of 221 percent.
The circulation growth comes as The Times made several steps to expand its news into other mediums, including providing video material for nightly television newscasts and launching several new radio and Web products.
“We’re creating a suite of products that makes The Washington Times and its distinctive news reporting available to people from the moment they wake up and pick up the paper on their doorstep to the time they check their iPhone for late news before bed,” Mr. Solomon said.
The Times’ Web site, which offers its signature revolving “story cube” and other interactive features, has seen traffic increase by 400 percent since the revision of 2008.
The newspaper this fall has launched two new Web sites, an opinion and social networking site called The Conservatives.com and a citizen journalism site for military families called BaseNews.com.
The Times’ syndicated morning drive talk radio show also has earned growing listenership nationwide. Launched in June in partnership with Talk Radio Network, “America’s Morning News” is anchored by Times columnist John McCaslin and broadcast news veteran Melanie Morgan and is now heard in more than 50 markets, including Los Angeles, Denver, Washington, Boston, Indianapolis and San Francisco. It airs on AM 570, WTNT, in the nation’s capital.
The three-hour program showcases breaking news, interviews with major newsmakers and exclusive investigations from a state-of-the-art studio located just 25 feet from The Times’ newsroom and its 175 working journalists.