According to a biannual report released by the Audit Bureau of Circulations, average paid circulation for U.S. newspapers is down 8.7 percent compared to the same six-month period a year ago. Although an improvement over the bureau’s previous report, papers across the United States are still seeing double-digit declines in circulation, including five of the nation’s largest newspapers.
Of the top 25 papers, The Wall Street Journal is the only publication to see growth. The number one rated paper’s sales are up 0.5 percent over last year with a total circulation of 2 million. In second place, USA Today fell 13.58 percent–with its circulation dropping to 1.83 million. The New York Times, the third largest paper, reported an 8.5 percent decline in readership. The Dallas Morning News and the San Francisco Chronicle saw a discouraging drop in circulation of over 20 percent.
Online Revenue for Newpapers Expected to Increase
Even though 2009 was a very bad year for newspapers in general, there is a bright spot. Online revenue for newspapers is expected to grow in the coming months, and with new developments in technology (think Apple’s iPad), some experts believe the trend toward online news may very well save the newspaper industry.
News Corporation CEO and Founder Rupert Murdoch said during a National Press Club event at George Washington University, “If you have less newspapers and more of these [iPads]–it may well be the saving of the newspaper industry.”
Newspaper Trends, the Environment and Technology
While Murdoch did not proclaim the end of physical newspapers, he did acknowledge that the industry is changing. Forward thinking publishers like Murdoch see the potential of online news delivery tools like iPad applications that offer paid news subscriptions, plus all the digital protection of Apple’s iTunes distribution system.
Environmental issues are also playing a role in the push toward online news. Not only the paper needed to print newspapers, but also the chemicals used and the need to physically deliver the paper has caused many environmental groups to question the burden ink and paper news may be placing on the globe.
At the same time, proponents of newspapers like the Newspaper Association of America note that paper can be recycled, which reduces impacts on forests, reduces dependency on imported oil and reduces the need for more landfills.
Making the Move to Online News
Even after seeing an 8.7 percent drop in U.S. daily paid newspaper circulation, some die-hard ink and paper publishers may be hesitant to move toward an additional news delivery method. But as industry moguls like Murdoch have discovered, creating successful online business communities must be the goal of every news publication–if they want to survive.
Virtual Press Room: FAS/FAX, Audit Bureau of Circulations
Like Newspaper Revenue, the Decline in Circ Shows Signs of Slowing, Editor and Publisher
Local Online Ad Spend Expected to Grow, Editor and Publisher
The Cost of the Free Press, George Washington University
Newspapers and the Environment, Newspaper Association of America