From a colleague in the business of newspaper distribution, I learned a lot of insider information which are unwritten rules within the industry. If there is not yet an authoritative organization to determine newspaper circulation, then we will have to use this unofficial channel to open our eyes . For journalism scholars, this is very important.
The newspaper circulation figures from genuine large companies are relatively accurate. Examples are CCTV Sofres and Sinomonitor [blogger’s comment: this is erroneous as CCTV Sofres and Sinomonitor conduct readership surveys and not circulation audits (see Passalong Newspaper Readership). And the blogger also discloses here that he is a technical consultant for Sinomonitor.)]. Of course, you cannot just look at the “retail sales surveys” that are released because they may be “commissioned” by the newspapers themselves and therefore favor them.
The data from the large companies are based upon samples of individuals, and the result will yield the sum total of retail buyers and subscribers. This number is the true representation of effective circulation. They will never depend solely on retail sales.
For total circulation, the data for the Beijing newspapers are as follows:
1. Beijing Evening News: 700,000 (effectively around 600,000) which consists of 450,000 in retail sales and 250,000 in subscription)
2. Beijing Youth Daily: 380,000 (effectively around 350,000) which consists of 20,000 in retail sales, 200,000 in subscription, 50,000 in complimentary copies and 100,000 in national sales)
3. Beijing Times: 280,000 (effectively around 280,000) which consists of 200,000 in retail sales and 80,000 in subscription)
4. Beijing Morning News: 180,000 (effectively around 160,000) which consists of 30,000 in retail sales and 150,000 in subscription)
5. Legal Evening News: 180,000 (effectively around 170,000, which consists of 170,000 in retail sales and 10,000 in complimentary copies)
6. Beijing Star Daily: 180,000 (effectively around 130,000) which consists of 120,000 in retail sales and 130,000 in subscription (note: the retail sales figure is seriously inaccurate!)
7. Beijing News: 80,000-100,000 (effectively 60,000-80,000) which consists of 30,000 in retail sales, 10,000 in subscription and 40,000-60,000 in subscription copies
8. Mirror: 50,000 (effectively 20,000) which consists of 20,000 in retail sales and 30,000 in complimentary copies
The above figures are within plus or minus 20%.