U.S. Newspaper Circulation Falls 10%

By Andrew Gauthier 

The New York Times

The two-decade erosion in newspaper circulation is looking more like an avalanche, with figures released Monday showing weekday sales down more than 10 percent since last year, depressed by rising Internet readership, price increases, the recession and papers intentionally shedding unprofitable circulation.

In the six months ended Sept. 30, sales fell by 10.6 percent on weekdays and 7.5 percent on Sundays, from the period a year earlier, for several hundred papers reporting to the Audit Bureau of Circulations. That means that the industry sold about 44 million copies a day–fewer than at any time since the 1940s.

The figures join a list of indicators of the industry’s health–like advertising and newsroom headcounts–that, after years of slipping, have accelerated sharply downward, as newspapers face the greatest threats since the Depression. Through the 1990s and into this decade, newspaper circulation was sliding, but by less than 1 percent a year. Then the rate of decline topped 2 percent in 2005, 3 percent in 2007 and 4 percent in 2008.

A driving factor has been the collapse in advertising, with revenue down 16.6 percent last year and about 28 percent so far this year, according to the Newspaper Association of America. More…