According to ABC (Audit Bureau of Circulations), the average weekday circulation of 507 American daily newspapers was only 36.2 million during a six-month period in 2008. This number represents a drop of 4.6% from a year earlier.
On the flip side, the NAA (Newspaper Association of America) reports that usage of newspaper Web sites grew nearly 16% in the third quarter of 2008, compared to the same period last year. And the average number of monthly unique visitors to newspaper sites is? Drum roll please… 68 million.
So, what’s the story? Well, to no one’s surprise, more and more consumers are migrating to the Internet to get their daily news. This is good for the environment. Good for the trees and good for the sky and good for the birds. And it is good for newspaper publishers; they aren’t losing readers, just subscribers. And it’s good news for consumers who can read most newspapers for free.
Sure, publishers are hurting right now because print circulation is down and print advertising is down. And they are not pleased that the losses in advertising on the print side are not translating into increased advertising on the Internet. But given enough time, things will balance out.
American’s are nothing if not inventive, and that’s a good thing too. After all, someone’s going to have to figure out what to do with all those curbside newspaper vending machines.