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Total circulation of The Salt Lake Tribune and of its rival Deseret News over the past six months showed a notable divergence as the two newspapers continued to pursue different editorial paths.

The Tribune's daily circulation fell 5.9 percent, to 104,023, in the half-year ending March 31 from 110,546 in the same period the year before. The paper's Sunday circulation increased to 138,851 from 135,380, a 2.6 percent gain, according to the Alliance for Audited Media, which released the figures Tuesday.

In contrast, daily circulation of the News jumped 23.3 percent, to 103,190, from 83,719 a year earlier. Sunday circulation of the LDS Church-owned News rose 10.4 percent, to 183,049 from 165,864.

The News focuses its reporting on issues of interest to members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, most of whom live outside Utah. The Tribune, owned by Denver-based MediaNews Group, is a secular news publication. Its readers are mostly Utahns.

Evidence of the News' wider reach was reflected in its digital readership. While The Tribune distributes 22,000 more printed papers during the week, the News says its daily print circulation is beefed up by more digital circulation. The News' daily digital circulation is more than 21,000 higher than The Tribune's, according to AAM.

The News is among the 25 biggest digital newspapers, listed at No. 22 by the AAM, which audits circulation figures of 593 daily papers and 519 Sunday papers.

The AAM didn't release information about the location of readers who subscribe to The Tribune or the News. However, close to 65 percent of the online page views the News received last year came from outside Utah, according to Travis Fisher, senior vice president of Utah Digital Services, which manages The Tribune's digital products. The Tribune's page views were almost exactly the opposite; most came from within Utah, he said recently.

Nationally, daily circulation of U.S. newspapers decreased 0.7 percent, compared with a year earlier. Sunday circulation was down 1.4 percent, AAM said in a statement.

Digital editions, which include tablet or smartphone apps, electronic editions and metered websites, account for 19.3 percent of U.S. daily newspapers' total average circulation, up from 14.2 percent in March 2012.

The Wall Street Journal has the highest daily circulation, 2.4 million — a 12.3 percent rise. No. 2 is The New York Times, with a circulation of 1.6 million, up 17.6 percent. The Times' digital circulation is greater than its print circulation, according to AAM.

Twitter: @sltribpaul