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Competitive Info: Most Major Newspapers Saw Double-Digit Circulation Declines In Past Year.


While these are trying times for most traditional media, newspapers appear to be suffering at a greater level, according to just-released data from Alliance for Audited Media.


Based on circulation figures for the top 25 daily papers in the U.S., across the 12 months through September 2023, all 25 saw their numbers drop year-over-year, with an average circulation decline of 14%, as reported by PressGazette. That matches the 14% slide during the 12 months through March 2023.


Of the 25 listed newspapers, all but three – the third-ranked New York Post, 11th-ranked Honolulu Star-Advertiser, and 15th-ranked San Francisco Chronicle – saw circulation decrease by double-digit percentages. While the top two papers, News Corp.'s Wall Street Journal and The New York Times, along with the fourth-place Washington Post, all show near-average declines, four dailies' circulations are down 20% or higher: 12th-ranked Tampa Bay Times (-24%), 20th-ranked Buffalo News (-32%), 22nd-ranked Cleveland Plain Dealer (-21%), and 23rd-ranked Denver Post (-25%).


Below, the top 10 newspapers, with their circulation numbers and year-over-year declines:


Wall Street Journal - 555,200 (-14%)

New York Times - 267,600 (-13%)

New York Post - 131,200 (-8%)

Washington Post - 127,700 (-13%)

USA Today - 121,600 (-16%)

Los Angeles Times - 105,700 (-17%)

Star Tribune (Minneapolis) - 86,900 (-12%)

Newsday (Long Island, NY) - 83,500 (-10%)

Chicago Tribune - 73,000 (-16%)

Seattle Times - 71,700 (-13%)


Combined average daily circulation for the top 25 was 2.3 million in the six months to September, vs. 2.7 million the year before, and 2.6 million in the six months to March 2023.


While these are notable declines, PressGazette's analysis points out that this does not tell the complete story, and that “data on digital subscriptions presents a more promising picture. Many major publishers have invested in securing digital reader revenue and several titles in this ranking have built up large digital subscriber bases.” The report cites December 2023 digital subscription figures for the New York Times and Wall Street Journal, at 9.7 million and 3.5 million respectively.

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