Newspapers in Their Heyday

Newspapers in Their Heyday

The heyday of the newspaper industry was the 1940s, but the percentage of Americans reading newspapers began to decline with the increased competition from radio, television and, more recently, the Internet. A growing population helped the absolute circulation numbers continue to increase until the 1970s, where it remained stable until the 1990s, when absolute circulation numbers began a sharp decline.

Newspaper circulation numbers reported to the Audit Bureau of Circulations show that a 20-year view documents a steady slide in paid circulation. Daily circulation, which stood at 62.3 million in 1990, fell to 43.4 million in 2010, a decline of 30%. Sunday circulation held up slightly better, falling from 62.6 million in 1990 to 46.2 million last year, off 26%.

If your business has been a loyal newspaper advertiser the picture is even more significantly alarming. A look at   just at ad revenues shows that all three major categories have declined sharply. Retail is down 42% since 2005; national is down 45% since 2003 and classified is down a stunning 70% since 2000. Not surprisingly employment recruiting has fallen the most sharply at 71%, reflecting both a migration to electronic sites like,, and craigslist. Recruiting classifieds and retail ads  were also impacted by a persistent employment slump and economic downturn the last two years. In short your newspaper ad today is seen by at least 30% less potential customers for your product or service. So, you need to cut your newspaper presence by the same amount or negotiate better ad rates.

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2 Comments on “Newspapers in Their Heyday”

  1. emorydigital Says:

    Good reality check on the decline of the newspaper as a major source for news and other content. Since my the glass is always 1/2 full-when I look at this topic, there are still a significant number of seniors and boomers who still read the paper every day-regardless of the Web and TV. I start every day with a coffee and a glance at the paper’s business headlines, then I’m right into the local sports section. And let;s not forget QR codes and free standing inserts. The former is gaining lots of traction in print media because it allows newspaper readers to get their web fix by scanning a code in an ad that transports them immediately to a web site, coupon or contest. The latter is what all supermarkets and big box retailers like Best Buy and Target use every day to promote their sales and wares(many of these same inserts also have QR codes). Check out the stats on these two newspaper tools next time you want to buy a space ad for targeting boomers or seniors. They love the interaction between newspapers and their ipads.

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