Based on government reports, Florida for-profit newspapers endured serious circulation erosion in 2017. And these declines appear to be continuing in 2018.
Daily newspapers use independent carriers to deliver most of their papers. But newspapers that also use the Post Office to deliver copies must file PS Form 3526 to remain eligible for cheaper periodical mailing permits. Editors or publishers who furnish false or misleading information, or omit requested information, can face criminal sanctions, including fines and imprisonment, and/or civil penalties.
The Florida Bulldog – a nonprofit, 501(c)(3) organization -used the Freedom of Information Act to request the forms filed by 20 of the largest Florida newspapers since 2015. It took the Postal Service a year and two FOIA requests to supply the reports.
The Florida Bulldog reported that seven daily papers suffered three-year declines of 27 percent or more, including: the Bradenton Herald, El Nuevo Herald, Florida Times-Union, Ocala Star Banner, Orlando Sentinel, Sarasota Herald-Tribune. In 2018, double-digit drops continued at Bradenton, El Nuevo and Orlando. Circulation numbers for 2018 were not available for the Times-Union, Star Banner or the Herald-Tribune.
Here locally, the Tallahassee Democrat reported a 16.5% decline in circulation from 26,075 in 2015 to 21,782 in 2017. In addition, the Tallahassee Democrat reported a 13.6% decline from 2017 to 2018, with a circulation of 18,825.
Looking at newspapers with circulation numbers comparable to Gannett owned Tallahassee Democrat, only the the Gainesville Sun saw a increase (4.78%) in circulation between 2015 to 2017.