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A story published today in the San Diego Business Journal looks at how local newspapers’ circulations are faring. The Union-Tribune‘s has dropped steadily; the North County Times has risen.

The story claims that the papers’ print circulation doesn’t reveal the full picture.

“We are focused on our total audience as a media company, instead of one specific metric, for instance daily or Sunday circulation,” said Bill Nagel, the Union-Tribune’s vice president of circulation and consumer marketing. “We are growing our reach through individuals who are paying for the newspaper and also through Today’s Local News distribution and through our Enlace publication (and Web sites) enlacelink and SignOnSanDiego.”

Chris Jennewein, the Union-Tribune’s vice president of Internet operations, said that the number of visits to signonsandiego is growing.

“What Web sites are doing is making up for the loss in print circulation,” Jennewein said, referring to the newspaper industry overall. “It’s incorrect to look at print circulation and say there are problems. It’s more correct to look at combined print and online and say there are opportunities.”

But while the story says online circulation is helping to offset print circulation drops, it leaves out an important supporting statistic: How many people are reading the papers’ websites and how much that online readership has grown.

ROB DAVIS

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