Circulation drop at major US newspapers is opportunity for law bloggers

Circulation declines are accelerating at America’s major newspapers, with all but two of the 25 largest U.S. showing declines for the last six months. This per the Wall Street Journal’s Russel Adams this morning.

Weekday circulation at 507 newspapers fell 4.6%…, compared with a 2.6% decline in the same period a year earlier, according to figures released on Monday by the Audit Bureau of Circulations. Sunday circulation fell 4.9% for the latest period, compared with a 3.5% decline in Sunday circulation reported a year earlier……Sunday circulation, often seen as the best indicator of a newspaper’s health, fell faster than it did during the week. The Houston Chronicle’s Sunday circulation declined 15.7%, followed by the Star-Ledger of Newark, N.J., and the Philadelphia Inquirer, where Sunday circulation declined 14.7% and 13.8%, respectively.

This represents a golden opportunity for lawyers and law firms publishing blogs. Newspapers are no longer going to have the resources to cover the stories they have. This includes not only regular legal news, but also the general legal information columns. In addition newspaper reporters have not a clue how to become relevant to bloggers, something that brings increased online newspaper readership when bloggers link to newspaper stories.

Help them out guys. You’re producing good legal content. Let your newspaper know you’d be happy to share a weekly or monthly column from your blog. A well done blog covering a niche for your metro or state gives you instant credibility with newspaper editors. That’s a huge edge over your competitors stuck in the printed newsletter world who are pitching through expensive PR people.

Talk to Rush Nigut. Blog posts from his blog, Rush on Business, are being syndicated to the Des Moines paper. It can be done.

You can also lead the newspaper to relevance among the local blogosphere. Newspapers look at blogs as just another publishing platform. Their editors and reporters do not understand that blogs are a conversation where you link to what you see sharing a bit of a news story or blog post and then providing your take. As a result newspapers run in a parallel universe to blogs. Newspapers don’t link to blogs, so we don’t often link to them.

Start reporting on and linking to newspaper stories in blog posts providing your take just as if you were interviewed. Let the reporter and editor know you shared their story with your blog readers. Let them know you would be happy to get them resources on that subject, even be available for a quote on a moment’s notice. You’ll become their friend.

Ask the reporters and editors you’ve got to know this way to lunch or coffee. Explain how blogs work. Review with them how bloggers will share their stories and draw traffic to their stories if the bloggers are cited in the newspaper.

Let them know the newspaper should have blogs that just don’t re-hash news. The newspaper’s blogs must highlight what local blogs are writing, with the newspaper reporter or columnist then providing their take. That way bloggers start to cite the newspaper columnists and reporters. And that’s attention newspapers are starved for, but don’t know how to get.

It’s a down cycle for newspapers. Take advantage of it.

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