Decline

Howard Kurtz reports the latest statistics on newspaper circulation, as provided by Editor and Publisher. They show some astonishing declines from just last year:

The Sun in Baltimore dropped a staggering 11.5% in daily circulation and 8.4% in Sunday circulation. The Chicago Tribune was down 6.6% daily and 4.6% Sunday. The Rocky Mountain News experienced a decline of 6.6% in daily copies and The Denver Post lost 6.3% in daily copies as well. The Miami Herald was down 3.7% in daily copies. Sunday slipped 3.9%. The Washington Post reported daily copies down 2.6% and Sunday was down 2.4%. The Cleveland Plain Dealer lost about 5% daily. The Los Angeles Times dropped 6.4% daily and 7.9% Sunday.

The Wall Street Journal has a rambling piece about the causes of the decline and what newspapers are doing in response. It seems pretty clear to me that you don’t lose 5 percent or more of your readers in a year because young people like the internet. You lose 5 percent or more of your readers in a year because you’ve alienated lots of readers. That certainly explains why I cancelled my subscription to the Washington Post in 2004. Indeed, I wonder whether the Editor and Publisher numbers have more than a little to do with the 2004 election. If so, newspapers have two options — hope that future elections are cancelled or try to become less biased.
JOHN adds: I think Deacon is right that widespread disgust with the MSM’s liberal bias is part of the reason for these steep declines. But I suspect another reason is the fraud claims that have been made against various newspapers in connection with inflated circulation numbers, which boost advertising revenue. This is speculation on my part, but I wonder whether certain newspapers have observed the controversies engulfing other papers, and have tried to made their circulation numbers more accurate, i.e., lower. That might help to explain why some papers have reported steep declines, and others haven’t.
DEACON responds: I think that’s right.

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