Everybody knows that daily newspapers are in trouble.
Declining readership and shrinking advertising revenue are causing layoffs, along with stimulating papers to redefine their journalistic mission in an increasingly online world. That 2014 piece is pretty amazing:
Here’s a quick reminder that, despite the upbeat story lines we’ve heard about the greater media business during the past year or so, most newspapers are still very much in free fall. At the American Enterprise Institute’s Carpe Diem blog,
Mark J. Perry finds that print ad revenues are now the lowest they've been since 1950, when the Newspaper Association of America began tracking industry data. Again, that's 1950, when the U.S. population was less than half its current size and the economy was about one-seventh as big. Revenues are down more than 50 percent in just the past five years alone.
Circulation figures for individual newspapers are difficult to come by. Trade secret, I guess. I also suspect that newspapers aren't eager to let current and prospective advertisers know how much their circulation is dropping.
Thus I was pleased when someone with access to several sources of circulation data for Willamette Valley newspapers sent me circulation figures for 2008 through 2014.
These figures are as comparable as possible between newspapers, but not completely so. They represent subscribers and single copy sales for daily circulation, which doesn't include Sunday. In short, they're the best this knowledgeable source of circulation data could come up with.
The overall trend during the seven years is what I find most interesting.
2008 - 309,464
2014 - 162,599
Salem Statesman Journal
2008 - 46,826
2014 - 27,859
2008 - 68,727
2014 - 43,663
2008 - 11,768
2014 - 8,607
Each of the daily newspapers had a marked decline in circulation from 2008 to 2014. The Statesman Journal, here in Salem, dropped 41%.
I'm not sure if online-only subscribers are included in these figures. Regardless, it seems virtually certain that the number of people ditching their daily print community newspaper is much higher than those who choose to read the paper solely online.