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By Milos Djordjevic | April 24, 2020 | 0 Comments

21 Extraordinary Newspaper Statistics You Should Know About in 2020

Print media has been in decline in the US and around much of the world for almost two decades.
The smartphone age and the 24-hour news-cycle have reshaped what Americans expect from their news outlets, in ways that may surprise you. 

What can traditional publishing offer to readers and employees, and is it able to compete with New Media for relevance, in any significant way?

Let’s review the recent newspaper statistics and find out.

Top Facts and Stats on the Newspaper Industry in the US (Editor’s Choice)

  • The newspaper industry’s total reported revenue for FY 2019 fell to $25 billion.
  • Revenue has deflated by 4.3% from 2014 to 2019.
  • Weekday print circulation is down by 8% (2017-2018) to 28.6 million units.
  • Sunday papers’ circulation is down by 9% (2017-2018) to 30.8 million units. 
  • In 2019 the number of news businesses dropped to a new low of 6,910.
  • Industry employment slides to a new low of 144,544 in 2020.

The Latest Newspaper Industry Trends

1. Since the 1950s, there’s been a trend of consolidation and lessening competition.

(Encyclopedia.com)

The largest newspaper chains have been buying up smaller competitors for decades. Nowadays, 80% of all daily newspapers are owned by large media corporations which usually operate multiple TV networks and various online media ventures, in addition to print and digital publishing.

2. The number of daily newspapers in the US is down by 460 in 46 years.

(Statista) 

The number of daily print newspapers in America has fallen by more than 26%. A total of 460 journals have disappeared in 46 years, from 1,748 in 1970 to just 1,286 in 2016. 

3. The US newspaper circulation is at its lowest level since 1940.

(Pew Research Center)

The combined daily print and digital newspaper circulation is estimated at 28.6 million while Sunday press circulation is hovering over 30.8 million. These numbers show the industry’s lowest point since 1940.

4. There was a significant decline in market consumption volumes in the period between 2012 and 2016.

(Grand View Research) 

As online media consumption grows, print newspaper circulation reaches a lesser share of the market, thus making the medium less appealing to advertisers. From 44.17 million copies in 2016, the volume is projected to drop to 43.6 million copies by 2025. This fall in market consumption volumes will have an impact on the industry’s profits.

5. More than 1 in 5 US newspapers have shuttered.

(New York Times)

Across the US, newspapers have been closing shop and laying off staff. A contributing factor to newspaper readership decline can be found in the disappearance of the local daily paper. This phenomenon has left many journalists jobless and dozens of counties without a reliable source of information on local issues. 

6. Advertising accounts for 80% of the revenue for the US news media industry. 

(IBISWorld)

Industry-totalized numbers show that sloping ad revenue and rising circulation revenue could meet in the middle in 2020. The ad revenue total is projected to dip to $14.9 billion while the circulation revenue total is expected to reach $12.1 billion.

7. 30% jump in digital ad revenue in 2018, yet total ad revenue slumps by 13%.

(Pew Research Center)

Even with digital advertising leaping by 30% in 2018, the total annual estimated advertising revenue was down by 13%, ending on a lackluster $14.3 billion, newspaper statistics say.

8. Newspaper revenue from print is expected to plummet by 50% over five years.

(MSN)

The dramatic decline of print advertising has been rough on the newspaper industry. From more than $25 billion in advertising revenue in 2012, the numbers are projected to drop to $5.5 billion within the next five years. However, things are looking rosy for digital advertising. Considered as the lifeblood of newspapers, digital advertising accounted for 35% of the newspaper advertising revenue in 2018.

9. USA Today has distributed the most papers as of January 2019, recording a daily circulation of more than 1.62 million.

(Statista)

The top 10 leading daily newspapers faced a circulation slowdown in 2019. USA Today edged out The Wall Street Journal for the number one spot while the Chicago Tribune suffered the biggest loss from the top 10 players, shedding 200,000 of its daily circulation.

Newspaper Statistics - Daily Paper

Newspaper Readership Trends and Stats in the US

10. Only 2 out of 10 Americans get their news from print newspapers.

(Pew Research Center)

One of the most evident trends that supports the newspaper industry’s downward spiral is the decreasing number of US adults who still read a daily newspaper. Apparently, more and more people are turning to online sources and social media like Facebook and Twitter to learn about local happenings, current events, and sports scores.

11. 69% percent of US adult population is reached by newspapers in a month.

(Forbes)

More than 169 million American adults have read a newspaper in the last month, according to a 2016 study by Nielsen Scarborough. The survey covered all media formats, including print, web, and mobile. This is a positive development for overall newspaper readership, which has been sliding in recent years.

12. Around 39% of US senior citizens get their news in print.

(Pew Research Center) 

News prints are unsurprisingly most popular with the more seasoned generation, most so among the “65 and older” group where four in ten people read newspapers. Americans aged 30 to 40, however, prefer to get their news from online websites and mobile apps. The youngest group in the survey, 18 to 29-year-olds, most readily rely on social media platforms for information.

13. 73% of American consumers believe their local newspaper keeps them informed.

(Poynter) 

Even though the newspaper industry has hit a rough patch, many Americans still have confidence in their local newspapers. Despite the challenging times, small dailies are seen as the most significant, trustworthy source of journalistic information in their communities. These journals produce more local reporting compared to TV, radio, and web-only outlets.

14. 54% of surveyed newspaper subscribers said they prefer print, 28% said “digital”.

(American Press Institute)

Newspaper subscription numbers are still heavily leaning to print dailies. This is especially true for adults ages 65 and older who pay for the news they consume. About 72% of them are more likely to choose print than digital. Folks of ages 18–34 like both formats the same: 42% say they’re likely to pay for print news and about the same number would opt for digital.

15. 53% of print subscribers have their subscriptions for five years or longer. 

(American Press Institute)

The older adults who make up the majority of print subscribers have been paying for their papers for more than several years. The majority of them prefer to continue their print subscription, with 79% saying they won’t likely switch to a digital format.

16. 64% of print-oriented readers find printed newspapers easier to read.

(American Press Institute)

We can’t talk about newspaper readership statistics without mentioning the question “why?”, so here we go. Print-oriented readers say print journals are easier to read. They also feel they can get more news in print. Their number one consideration is the quality of the news content and whether the publication is covering topics and issues they care about. Print subscribers also believe that news helps them stay informed and be better citizens.

17. 64% of digital subscribers say they did it for accessibility. 

(American Press Institute)

The decline of newspapers due to internet media consumption bodes well for the future of digital subscriptions. Digitally-oriented subscribers prefer this format because of its ease of access on the go. Another reason for going this route is the lower price compared to print, and also the more frequent updates.

Newspaper Statistics - Typewriter

Jobs in the Newspaper Industry

18. Newsroom employment in the US dropped by 25% in 10 years.

(Pew Research Center)

Across the United States, newsroom employment has continuously slid, with job losses at newspapers leading the fall. In 2008, about 114,000 newsroom employees working in 5 news industries. That number has collapsed to 86,000 — a total of 28,000 jobs lost. Almost a quarter of the layoffs at newspapers and digital-native news outlets happened between January 2017 and April 2018.

19. 44% of all newsroom employees work in the newspaper sector, down from 62%.

(Pew Research Center)

The decline in newspaper circulation numbers was heavily influenced by the decimation of newspaper jobs. In 2008, about six in ten newsroom employees worked for newspapers, accounting for 62% of all newsroom employees across five news industries. More recent newspaper statistics show the portion has since slimmed to 44%.

20. Digital-native newsroom staff have ballooned by 82% since 2008. 

(Pew Research Center)

The grass is greener where it’s pixels-only. From 7,400 to 13,500 in less than ten years, the staff count of digital newsrooms has nearly doubled. This 6,100+ rally is small potatoes next to the dent left in newspaper newsroom employment for the same period.  

21. Newsroom employees can earn a median annual income of $48,000, slightly better than the average US worker. 

(Pew Research Center)

While newsroom employees fall behind other college-educated workers from other industries and occupations, they fare better than the average worker in the country. Editors have a median wage of $49,000 while reporters can earn a median annual wage of $35,000.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are Newspaper Sales Declining?

The huge drop in newspaper circulations and print advertising means newspaper sales are suffering as well. Readers are less interested in print newspapers, which are also more expensive. More and more people turn to digital sources instead, trading editorials for quicker reads and updates. Advertisers are investing more and more readily in primarily- or exclusively-digital campaigns. 

How Many Newspapers Are Sold Annually in the US? 

As of 2017, print newspapers have sold a total of 536.6 million units, marking a 700,000  drop compared to 2016. Analysts expect sales to dip further in coming years. 

What Is the Most Widely Read Newspaper in the World? 

Out of all the newspapers in the world, the Yomiuri Shimbum is said to be the most circulated. It is one of Japan’s five national newspapers. It has more than nine million circulations annually. The newspaper is published twice daily. 

How Many People Still Buy Newspapers?

About 2.5 billion people still read a printed newspaper regularly, that is according to Wan-Ifra’s World Press Trends report. The extensive data encompass more than 70 countries which account for 90% of the global industry’s value. 

How Much Is the Newspaper Industry Worth? 

The newspaper industry as of 2018 has a total advertising revenue of $14.3 billion and an estimated circulation revenue of 11 billion. The trend has shown a significant decline compared to the past few years.

What Is the Most Read Newspaper in the United States?

USA Today tops the highest number of daily circulation as of January 2019 with a total of 1.62 billion. The paper is followed by The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal.

Where Do We Go From Here?

The future of print journalism in the US looks bleak. These latest newspaper statistics and headlines tell a broad story but the true consequences will unfold over many decades.

How citizens want to see their news is entirely up to them, right? Yes, but actually, the media not only reflects what readers want, but also shapes it. And never more so than today. 

Maybe free information won the match a long time ago. The platforms that provided it are now rich in the most valuable new commodity — user data. Because access is instant, but also two-way. So choose carefully the page you turn and the page you navigate to.

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