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The U.S. newspaper industry has history going all the way back to the colonies.  Newspapers enjoyed a long reign not only as the primary source of news and information, but also as the main advertising vehicle for brands, retailers, and even individuals within their markets.

Newspaper publishers faced and survived major challenges over the years from short broadcast newscasts on radio and TV, radio all-news formats, television news programs, and 24-hour cable news channel cycles, retaining subscribers and revenue streams.

In the 21st century, however, online and digital platforms affording real-time news coverage – including personalized news delivery – have made immediacy the order of the day.  Publishers literally are faced with an “adapt or die” proposition.  Some are adapting innovative strategies to expand their digital services to the consumer – others have closed down.

Newspaper Counts and Circulation
Fewer newspapers were published in 2017 than 12 years ago, and circulation has declined dramatically:

  • Daily Newspapers (published 4 or more days per week)
    • There were 1,286 daily papers and 866 Sunday papers as of January 1, 2017;
    • There were 1,457 daily papers and 915 Sunday papers in February ‘05
    • Combined circulation of all dailies in 2017 is 33.4M; Sunday, 37.8M;
    • Combined circulation of all dailies in ‘05 was 54.6M; Sunday, 55.2M
  • Weekly Newspapers (published 1-3 days per week)
    • There were 8,458 weekly papers as of 1/1/17 (7,285 publish once a week)
    • There were 6,659 weekly papers in February ’05  (6,086 published once a week)
    • Combined circulation of all weeklies in 2017 is 126.0M
    • Combined circulation of all weeklies in 2005 was 49.5M
  • Shoppers/Total Market Coverage (TMC) (Publications with less than 25% editorial content)
    • There were 1,245 shopper/TMC publications as of January 1, 2017
    • There were 1,417 shopper/TMC publications in February ‘05
    • Total circulation of all shoppers/TMC publications in 2017 is 42.30M
    • Total circulation of all shoppers/TMC publications in 2005 was 56.8M

(Source: Editor & Publisher International Annual Data Books – Dailies and Weeklies – 2017 and 2005; counts and combined circulation comparisons based on January 1 data for both years)

  • Newspaper publishers are changing their business models to curtail costs, expand access to content via digital platforms:
    • Reduction of home delivery schedules to 3 or 4 days a week, including Sunday
    • Some publications adopting these schedules continue to offer print editions at newsstands and other points
    • Others offer digital-only options on non-delivery days

      Recognized channels for audited newspaper circulation data by the Alliance for Audited Media (AAM), formerly known as the Audit Bureau of Circulations (ABC), are:
      • Print distribution (individually paid, business/traveler distribution such as hotels and airlines, and consumer copies that are non-paid or paid by someone other than the individual)
      • Digital Replica:  Digital format containing all editorial and ROP ad content; may contain additional editorial and advertising.  Circulation numbers not synonymous with daily Website visitors, page views, or other common web traffic terms
      • Digital Non-Replica:  Digital format with same name of paper’s AAM membership; may contain different editorial or advertising from the print version.  Circulation numbers not synonymous with daily Website visitors, page views, or other common web traffic terms.
      • Affiliated Publications: Print and/or digital editions reflecting a different name than AAM member; may contain audience-focused, alternative language or community papers.


  • Print readership varies by age demographic, with older adults more likely to consume print than younger Americans.
Daily Sunday
Adults 18-24 5.1% 5.9%
Adults 25-34 9.1% 10.5%
Adults 35-45 11.0% 12.0%
Adults 45-54 16.4% 17.4
Adults 55-64 22.4% 21.9%
Adults 65+ 36.1% 32.2%

(Source: Source: GfK MRI Doublebase 2017)

  • Research shows that 89% of the time audiences spend with national newspapers is still in print, with just 7% via mobile devices and 4% via PCs according to a February, 2017 article on
  • 81% of monthly newspaper readers engage with the print product, with 51% reading print exclusively.
  • Adults 21-34 make up 25% of the U.S. population and represent 24% of the total monthly newspaper readership.

(Source: Nielsen Scarborough USA+ Release 1 2016)

  • Newspaper audiences have traditionally been more educated, affluent and older than non-newspaper readers but digital media has attracted younger readers.
    • 13% of the U.S. population is 70+ - this age group now accounts for 15% of the total monthly newspaper audience.
    • 21-34 year-olds make up 25% of the U.S. population and represent 24% of monthly newspaper readership.
    • Print or digital readers are more likely to be college graduates and have annual household incomes over $100,000.
    • Digital newspaper readers are 49% more likely than the general adult population to be a college graduates.

(Source: Source: Nielsen Scarborough USA+ Release 1 2016)

  • Many print newspaper advertisers like to “target” consumers by placing their ads in special sections of the paper. However, among those adults who read print newspapers, only a small percentage of actually read every section – many readers will never be exposed to advertising.
    • Weekday papers
      • Front page, 26%
      • International/National News, 14%
      • Business/Finance, 8%
      • Comics, 10%
      • Editorial Page, 10%
      • Entertainment/Lifestyle, 10%
      • Fashion, 4%; Food/Cooking, 11%
      • Health, 10%
      • Home/Home Design/Furnishings/Gardening, 6%
      • Movie Listings & Reviews, 7%
      • Science & Technology, 6%
      • Sports, 13%; Travel, 6%
      • TV Listings, 6%
      • Weather, 15%
      • Advertisements, 7%
      • Circulars/Inserts/Fliers, 10%
      • Classified Advertising, 8%.
    • Sunday/Weekend papers
      • Front page, 25%
      • International/National News, 14%
      • Local News, 22%
      • Business/Finance, 8%
      • Comics, 12%
      • Editorial page, 9%
      • Entertainment/Lifestyle, 12%
      • Fashion, 5%
      • Food/Cooking, 10%
      • Health, 9%
      • Home/Home Design/Furnishings/Gardening, 7%
      • Movie Listings & Reviews, 7%
      • Science & Technology, 7%
      • Sports, 13%
      • Travel, 7%
      • TV Listings, 6%
      • Weather, 12%
      • Advertisements, 9%
      • Circulars/Inserts/Fliers, 14%
      • Classified Advertising, 8%

(Source: Source: GfK MRI Doublebase 2017)

  • On the positive side for print newspaper advertisers, consumers are mainly receptive to ads in this medium.
    • 75% of readers trust an ad in a national print newspaper "some" or "a lot"
    • 79% of trust an ad in a local paper "some" or "a lot"
    • 58% of national newspaper readers say they are "somewhat" or "very" likely to purchased after seeing an ad.Becoming aware of a sale (61%)
    • 66% of local newspaper readers sat they are "somewhat" or "very" likely to purchase after seeing an ad

(Source: News Media Alliance 2017)

  • According to a Statista survey, 7% of P16+ stated that print newspaper ads are very annoying and 11% kind of annoying

(Source: Statista, May 2017 survey of 1037 respondents)


  • Newspaper advertising is expected to see a decline in revenues between 2017 ($16.8 billion) and 2021 ($12.2 billion).
  • Digital advertising in the newspaper market is simply not growing quickly enough (2016-2021 CAGR of 2.2%) to offset print advertising losses (CAGR of -12.6%).
  • Forecast to account for 29.8% of newspaper ad revenues this year, digital is expected to grow to 44.6% share of revenues in 2021.
  • Meanwhile, each of the three major segments of print advertising (classified, national and retail) is predicted to drop by an annual rate in the double digits, with classified having the worst outlook (of -13.3%).

    (Source: Source: Marketing Charts 2017)

    For additional information/insights on Newspapers:
    Newspaper Association of America (NAA):

    National Newspaper Association (NNA):

    Alliance for Audited Media (AAM)