A year after launching a paid content initiative, the Daily Herald was named one of the fastest growing newspapers in the country.
According to the Alliance for Audited Media -- formerly the Audit Bureau of Circulation -- the Daily Herald ranked fifth in audience growth from September 2011 to September 2012.
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In that time period, the paper's combined print and digital audience grew by 13.7 percent, from 820,003 to 932,693, according to the Alliance.
The Chicago Tribune ranked 11th, growing from a 2.9 million combined net audience to 3.2 million. The Chicago Sun-Times was not listed among the top 25 newspapers for growth.
"This audience growth recognition continues to reinforce the Daily Herald brand as the leader in the Chicago market and in the United States, and I am convinced it is because of the unique suburban-focused content that is so important to our readers," Douglas Ray, Chairman, Publisher and CEO, said. "It also reflects that the Daily Herald audience has never been larger and is growing."
The Daily Herald was the first in the Chicago and suburban market in September 2011 to reserve some online content exclusively for subscribers, who also receive access to special events and other benefits. The Chicago Sun-Times followed in December of that year, and the Tribune announced it would begin charging for online content over the summer.
"While the transformation of the newspaper business continues, there will be winners and losers, and this latest report on audience growth points out that the Daily Herald is a winner -- continuing to grow even as others have not done so," Ray said.
"We're very pleased to see this growth in our audience," added Colin O'Donnell, Daily Herald senior vice president and director of content and strategic planning. "We are committed to providing the news and information both our print and digital readers want to read and these numbers provide a solid indication that we are succeeding in our efforts," O'Donnell said.
The Chicago and suburban market is one of the most competitive in the nation.
Ray called the boost "a tribute to a hardworking and dedicated staff -- from the reporters and editors to those who produce, print and distribute our news and information in print and online. Readership is the key to the future and this recognition shows that the Daily Herald is on the right track and that the brand has a bright future in the new era of publishing."