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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 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

Newspaper readership

Overall, consumers reading traditional print newspapers are declining as digital newspaper readership numbers are on the rise. Convenience and technology are key when consuming print now.

  • 9% of A18+ read any daily newspaper
  • 8% of A18+ read any one daily newspaper 
  • 1% of A18+ read any two or more daily newspapers
  • 17% of A18+ read any Sunday newspaper
  • 14% of A18+ read any one Sunday newspaper
  • 3% of A18+ read any two or more Sunday newspapers

Newspaper consumers are now reading digitally. 

  • 64% of 18+ read or looked into any electronic version of a newspaper, including website.

(Source: 2023 MRI-Simmons Fall Doublebase)

  • 218 Million adults 18+ access news and information from newspapers every month.

(Source: America's Newspaper, 2023 Local Newspaper Study)

  • 63% of newspaper readers access local news through both print and digital newspaper platforms.

(Source: America's Newspaper, 2023 Local Newspaper Study)

  • 74% of adults 18+ believe that it is important to have local newspapers provide community news & information.

(Source: America's Newspaper, 2023 Local Newspaper Study)

  • Almost 6 out of 10 adults 18+ use newspaper advertising to help them decide what brands, products and local services to buy.

(Source: America's Newspaper, 2023 Local Newspaper Study)

  • Today's newspaper readers:
    • 49% are male
    • 51% are female
    • 78% are under the age of 65
    • 67% of households earn $50k+ annually
    • 57% are employed
    • 38% are college grads or higher
    • 35% have children in the home
    • 71% lived in the community for 5+ years

(Source: America's Newspaper, 2023 Local Newspaper Study)

  • Each week, newspapers reach:
    • 51% of all U.S. adults who plan to buy or lease a new vehicle in the next year.
    • 49% of all U.S. adults who have used a tax preparation service in the past year.
    • 46% of all U.S. adults who have shopped at a major department store in the past three months.
    • 45% of all U.S adults who own mutual funds.
    • 55% of all U.S. adults who visited an upscale restaurant in the past 30 days.
    • 51% of all U.S. adults who spent $2,500 or more on internet purchases in the past year.
    • 51% of all U.S. adults who visited a dermatologist in the past year.
    • 47% of all U.S. adults who visited a casino in the past year.

(Source: Nielsen Scarborough USA+, Release 1, 2023)

  • 66% of adults 18+ believe that publishing public notes in newspapers should be required.

(Source: America's Newspaper, 2023 Local Newspaper Study)

  • 57% of adults 18+ report that newspapers and newspaper sites are "more reliable" that city, county, or state websites for accessing public notes.

(Source: America's Newspaper, 2023 Local Newspaper Study)

  • 63% of adults 18+ believe that newspapers and newspaper websites are "more concerned about the community" than city,/count websites or state websites.

(Source: America's Newspaper, 2023 Local Newspaper Study)

  • 43% of adults 18+ feel like newspapers are the most accurate source of original news reporting.

(Source: America's Newspaper, 2023 Local Newspaper Study)

  • Top 5 most read daily newspapers by U.S. adults
    • Daily News - 32%
    • New York Post - 28%
    • USA Today - 25%
    • The New York Times - 23%
    • Los Angeles Times - 22%

(Source: Statista Global Consumer Survey, 2022)

  • Top 10 largest newspapers in the U.S.:
    • USA Today - Over 4 Million readers
    • The Wall Street Journal - Over 2.5 Million readers
    • The New York Times - Over 2 Million readers
    • Los Angeles Times - Around 1 Million readers
    • The Washington Post - Around 1 Million readers
    • Chicago Tribune - Around 800,000 readers
    • New York Post - Around 400,000 readers
    • Newsday - Around 400,000 readers
    • San Francisco Chronicle - Around 250,000 readers
    • The Boston Globe - Around 200,000 readers

(Source: GeekforGeek, February 2024)

  • Platforms adults 18+ use to access newspaper content:
    • Website - 67%
    • Social Media - 59%
    • Daily/Sunday Newspaper - 51%
    • App - 51%
    • Email Newsletter - 50%

(Source: America's Newspaper, 2023 Local Newspaper Study)

  • News consumption across platforms in 2023:
    • Digital Devices:
      • Often - 56%
      • Sometimes - 29%
      • Rarely - 8%
      • Never - 6%
    • Print Publications:
      • Often - 9%
      • Sometimes - 28%
      • Rarely - 33%
      • Never - 30%

    (Source: Pew Research Center, Survey of U.S. adults conducted Sept. 25 - Oct. 1, 2023)

  • Digital news platforms preferences in 2023:
    • 25% of U.S. adults prefer news websites or apps for getting news
    • 15% of U.S. adults prefer search for getting news
    • 12% of U.S. adults prefer social media for getting news
    • 6% of U.S. adults prefer podcasts for getting news

    (Source: Pew Research Center, Survey of U.S. adults conducted Sept. 25 - Oct. 1, 2023)

    • The total number of local newspapers (nondaily and daily) has decreased from 8,891 in 2005 to 6,005 in 2023.

    (Source: Local News Initiative 2023, The State of Local News 2023)

    • Total number of local U.S. newspapers in 2023:
      • Non-daily - 4,792
      • Daily - 1,213

    (Source: Local News Initiative 2023, The State of Local News 2023)

    • The newspaper landscape is comprised of four layers:
      • National Newspapers - 4
      • Metro and regional dailies - 150
      • Small and midsized dailies - 1,063
      • Weeklies and nondailies - 4,762
    • Print and digital circulation:
      • 10.2 million in 2023
      • 50 million+ in 2005

    (Source: Local News Initiative 2023, The State of Local News 2023)

    • Top 10 largest owners in 2023 by number of papers owned:
      • Gannett/Gatehouse - 390 total papers
      • Alden Capital - 174 total papers
      • Adams Publishing Group - 148 total papers
      • Lee Enterprises - 146 total papers
      • Paxton Media Group - 115 total papers
      • CNHI - 96 total papers
      • Ogden Newspapers - 81 total papers
      • CherryRoad Media - 76 total papers
      • Boone Newspaper/Carpenter - 54 total papers
      • Hearst Corporation - 46 total papers

    (Source: Local News Initiative 2023, The State of Local News 2023)

    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 - 22%
        • International/National News - 13%
        • Local News – 20%
        • Business/Finance - 7%
        • Classified Advertising – 4%
        • Comics - 8%
        • Editorial Page - 9%
        • Entertainment/Lifestyle - 8%
        • Fashion - 3%
        • Food/Cooking – 8%
        • Health - 7%
        • Home/Home Design/Furnishings/Gardening - 4%
        • Movie Listings & Reviews - 4%
        • Science & Technology - 6%
        • Sports - 9%
        • Travel - 5%
        • TV Listings - 3%
        • Weather - 10%
        • Advertisements - 4%
        • Circulars/Inserts/Fliers - 7%
      • Sunday/Weekend papers
        • Front page - 22%
        • International/National News - 13%
        • Local News - 18%
        • Business/Finance - 8%
        • Classified Advertising – 5%
        • Comics - 11%
        • Editorial page - 9%
        • Entertainment/Lifestyle - 10%
        • Fashion - 4%
        • Food/Cooking - 9%
        • Health - 8%
        • Home/Home Design/Furnishings/Gardening - 6%
        • Movie Listings & Reviews -5%
        • Science & Technology - 7%
        • Sports - 9%
        • Travel - 7%
        • TV Listings - 3%
        • Weather - 9%
        • Advertisements - 5%
        • Circulars/Inserts/Fliers - 9%

    (Source: 2023 MRI-Simmons Fall Doublebase)

    Attitudes towards newspapers of A18+

    • 51% say newspapers are a good source of learning
    • 48% say that reading a newspaper makes them think
    • 49% say that newspapers keep them informed/up to date
    • 15% say that newspaper give them good ideas
    • 18% say that they enjoy ads in newspaper

    (Source: 2023 MRI-Simmons Fall Doublebase)

    • Share of Americans who read newspapers daily within the past 2 weeks as of June 2023, by age:
      • 18-29: 16%
      • 30-49: 24%
      • 50-64: 16%

    (Source: Statista, June 2023)

    • Percentage (%) of U.S. adults who say they currently buy physical newspapers, by age:
      • 18-29: 11%
      • 30-44: 20%
      • 45-64: 22%
      • 65+: 37%
      • Overall: 23%

    (Source: Marketing Charts, U.S. Adults' Print Newspaper Purchases, February 2023)

    • Ways that different generational groups would like to have newspaper content delivered:
      • Gen Z (18-24):
        • Social Media - 54%
        • Daily News Websites - 45%
        • Breaking news emails - 33%
      • Millenials (25-39):
        • Social Media - 48%
        • Daily News Websites - 45%
        • Breaking news emails - 37%
      • Gen X (40-59):
        • Daily News Websites - 47%
        • Breaking news emails - 41%
        • Home delivered daily paper - 41%
      • Boomers (60-74):
        • Daily News Websites - 43%
        • Breaking news emails - 38%
        • Home delivered daily paper - 31%
      • Silent Gen (75+):
        • Home delivered daily paper - 40%
        • Daily News Websites - 38%
        • Breaking news emails - 36%

      (Source: America's Newspaper, 2023 Local Newspaper Study)

      • Frequency of daily newspaper reading for a source of news by ethnicity:
        • White: 12%
        • Hispanic: 12%
        • Black: 11%
        • Other: 9%

      (Source: Statista, February 2022)

    • Devices used for reading online news
      • Smartphone - 60%
      • Computer/laptop - 45%
      • Tablet - 18%

    (Source: Statista, June 2022)


    Newspaper companies have been hit hard by the coronavirus outbreak. Pew Research Center analyzed six publicly traded newspaper companies that own over 300 daily newspapers and found an overall 42% decrease in ad revenue.

    • Ad revenue share of decrease by company:
      • Gannett: -35%
      • NY Times: -44%
      • Tribune: -48%
      • McClatchy: -46%
      • Lee: -37%
      • Belo: -40%

    (Source: Pew Research Center, The financial state of the U.S. news media in the second quarter of 2020)

    • Overall newspaper ad revenue is expected to coninuously decline between this this 2018 ($15.8B) and 2022 ($12.6B)
    • Digital advertising in the newspaper market is simply not growing quickly enough (2017-2022 CAGR of 2.2%) to offset print advertising losses (CAGR of -10.4%)
    • In 2018, print newspaper ad revenues accounted for 33% while digital is expected to grow to 45.1% by 2022
    • Each of the three major segments of print advertising (classified, national and retail) is predicted to drop by an annual rate of 9%, with classified having the worst outlook of -11.0%

    (Source: Marketing Charts; US Online & Traditional Media Advertising Outlook, 2018-2022)

    For additional information/insights on Newspapers:
    News/Media Alliance:

    National Newspaper Association (NNA):

    Alliance for Audited Media (AAM)

    Pew Research Center:

    Reach: Mass reach, delivered daily: Newspapers reach a relatively large mass audience throughout the market in a single issue. One advertisement in the newspaper typically can create more impressions than a single commercial spot on television or radio, a single outdoor billboard, or online platform. Beyond initial circulation, newspapers can deliver meaningful pass-along audiences and their reach over a week or month is significantly higher than their daily tallies indicate
    Targeting: Geographic targeting is available through combinations of major market and small town/suburban papers, as well as by zoned editions that allow for less than full run of press coverage. Newspapers boast strong upscale demographics, delivering a high proportion of educated, affluent consumers. Editorial selectivity is available using specific sections of the paper to advertise to a target audience – e.g., women's specialty store in fashion section.
    Environment: The majority of newspapers retain reputations for high civic-mindedness and integrity in reporting
    Cross-Platform Exposure: A mix of print and digital platforms offered by newspapers affords access to differing demographic segments. Newspaper websites are a growing option for advertisers to reach younger, more upscale audiences. The availability of video ads on digital platforms increases appeal
    Tracking: It is relatively easy to track response to newspaper ads, primarily through couponing
    Ad Timing: Advertisers can place orders and submit copy/artwork with a short lead time
    Content: The combination of text and graphics in the newspaper, when used effectively, can create visual appeal to reinforce the advertising message
    Newspaper ads afford the capability to communicate lengthy, complex or detailed information and descriptions, as well as disclaimers legally required for certain forms of advertising
    Comparison Shopping: The newspaper is an effective vehicle for consumers to price shop and also serves as a primary source for coupons. Newspaper readers and non-readers often seek out ads to learn about store promotions, prices, and to clip coupons for savings
    Ad Size: The medium offers a wide range of ad sizes that allow advertisers to meet their budgetary parameters, ranging from a single column-inch ad to two adjacent full-pages (double-truck display)
    Opportunities: If newspaper publishers can capitalize on them, online companion Websites and mobile apps can provide newspapers with a vehicle for more immediacy, audio and visual delivery of ad messages
    Classified Advertising: Many consumers consult their newspaper to look for job offerings, real estate and automotive ads, other buying/selling opportunities

    Reach: Large percentages of adults don't read any newspaper each day, especially among younger demographics. Even among readers, people rarely go through all the sections of the newspaper
    Quality: Despite printing improvement over the years, newspaper ad reproduction isn't a match for magazines or online displays
    Clutter: Same-page ad clutter is an issue for all but the largest advertisers (those purchasing ½-page of full-page displays). Ads placed next to a competitor's may only be an advantage if price is absolutely the lowest
    Passivity: Print newspapers provide only visual information. Newspaper ads are non-intrusive, appeal primarily to consumers who are seeking them out
    Timeliness: Newspaper coverage of news events lags behind TV, Cable, radio, Internet. Readers may seek out more in-depth reporting from the paper, but get breaking news from electronic and digital sources today. Social networks such as Twitter, BuzzFeed also afford quick access to stories
    Declining Distribution: Newspaper circulations, especially on weekdays, are in steep decline
    Demographics: Newspapers' audience skew is 35+, with emphasis on 55+
    Coverage: The metro market reach of the typical major market daily newspaper is only about half of what it was 25-30 years ago
    Digital Ads: Newspaper websites to date have not been able to exploit the availability of video commercials on the digital platforms. There is controversy regarding how consumers "view" digital ads on all platforms that must be resolved
    Measurement: Circulation, not readership, was newspapers' sales currency for many years. As the medium attempts to shift to readership data, audience surveys currently available rarely provide issue-specific data or readership estimates by page or section of the paper
    Media Buying Limitations: GRP or media weight factoring is a challenge due to wide variations in market-to-market coverage and circulation. In many cities there is only one major newspaper available

    Readers can easily skip past newspaper ads, but broadcast radio is intrusive and breaks through with your message. 63% of adults occasionally/never skip radio ads unlike broadcast TV (51%) and cable/satellite TV (49%) who always or do most of the time. (Source: Nielsen 2023 Consumer Survey Report)
  • 63% of U.S. adults trust radio as a news source, more than newspapers (60%), network (61%) or cable news (56%) and even social media (45%). (Source: Morning Consult, 2024)
  • Reach:  Radio offers broad reach across all demographics, including younger consumers not easily delivered by newspaper advertising.  Radio reaches more adults every week than any other medium. Adding a relatively inexpensive radio schedule to a newspaper ad campaign can boost the number of different persons who will be exposed to an advertising message
    Enhancement:  The ear is a powerful organ for messaging, and radio can provide sound that is lacking from print advertisements.  Conversely, newspaper ads can provide deeper messaging and details that short radio spots can't convey
    Recall:  Radio combines with newspaper to improve brand recall.  Numerous studies point to radio's ability to improve brand awareness and recall as well as improve the effectiveness of other media. Additionally, radio has been proven to improve an advertiser's return on investment
    Environment:  Radio cuts through the clutter, featuring commercials one at a time, whereas newspapers commonly display multiple ads on the same page, diminishing branding opportunities.  Use radio to direct consumers to a particular ad in an edition of the paper for locations, details beyond radio messaging
    Frequency:  Radio advertising is affordable and allows you to add impact to your brand messaging through repetition. You can air multiple radio spots in a single day versus one newspaper ad.  That means bigger and faster results because repetition sells.  Radio can help maintain loyal customers by keeping your name or brand image top-of-mind.  When the consumer knows your name, she's more likely to stop and read you newspaper advertisement
    Targetability:  Radio is highly-targetable.  While everyone in the market reads the same print newspaper, there are many radio formats, each attracting a distinct demographic or lifestyle group that allows you to zero in on a specific audience – and making a radio buy more efficient than newspaper
    Cost:  Newspaper advertising can be expensive, depending on the size of the ad and where it is placed in the publication, and one ad hits all who read the paper.  Good radio advertising is relatively inexpensive to produce and can be tailored to different demographic groups and placed within niche program formats
    Speed:  The time to create a radio spot, produce it and get it on the air is shorter than the time required to publish an ad in the print edition of the paper.  Radio can be the advance team for messaging that needs to get out quickly

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