The good news ... Metro says it has become the 5th largest circulated newspaper in the United States, with a combined circulation (Boston, NY and Philly) of 590,553. Metro claims it is the country's fifth largest circulation paper, pulling ahead of the Washington Post, with 582,844 (Monday-Saturday).
Of course advertisers still favor paid circulation papers, so the Washington Post will continue to charge more per column inch than Metro. But Metro, and other free dailies, continue to have strong and growing readership numbers while paid papers are losing ground.
The Washington Post, for instance, lost 5 percent of its circulation year over year in the latest figures from the Audit Bureau of Circulation. The San Francisco Chronicle saw its circulation plunge 26 percent during the period. Nationally, the overall decrease in paid circulation was 10 percent.
Metro has another bragging right — it commmissioned a Scarborough survey which found Metro was No. 1 among adults 18-49 in its three markets.
The bad news ... The experiment of converting the Mesa (Ariz.) Tribune from paid to free circulation has failed. The owners, Freedom Communications, have announced the paper will close Dec. 30 unless a buyer is found. That will result in the layoff about 140 employees.
Despite winning a Pulitzer a year ago, the Tribune hasn't made money in two years. The paper started in 1891. Mesa is a suburb of Phoenix, an area hard-hit by the housing industry meltdown.