April 29, 2015

State of the News Media 2015

Alternative Weeklies: Fact Sheet

Last updated April 2015

Top 20 Alternative Weekly NewspapersMany alternative weekly newspapers faced dropping circulation or outright closure in 2014. The San Francisco Bay Guardian closed in October 2014 after operating for 48 years, Knoxville’s Metro Pulse was shut down by E.W. Scripps in the same month, and Real Detroit Weekly merged with the Detroit Metro Times in May. Only three of the top 20 newsweeklies saw an increase in circulation in the last year.

Amid these struggles, however, some highlights emerged. Staff from The San Francisco Bay Guardian successfully spearheaded a crowdfunding campaign to produce a final extra-large issue. And former staffers of Metro Pulse used crowdfunding to create the Knoxville Mercury, which launched on March 12, 2015.

Circulation

The combined average weekly circulation of the top 20 newsweeklies decreased 6% from 2013 to 2014.

The Metro Times’ dramatic circulation increase (65%) is mainly due to its merger with Real Detroit Weekly. The only other publications among the top 20 to show gains were the Chicago Reader (up 23%) and SF Weekly (1%); the circulation of all the other weeklies either dropped or remained the same. (The Chicago Reader’s increase this year came after a significant drop in circulation the year before.) The Village Voice’s circulation showed the largest drop (-25%) in the group. As a result, LA Weekly led in circulation for 2014, with an average weekly circulation of about 115,000 copies.