[Marxism] Newspaper readership among young is declining

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Tue May 3 11:06:08 MDT 2005


NY Times, May 3, 2005
Newspapers' Circulation Still Going Down
By ERIC DASH

Newspaper circulation continues to tumble.

The industry reported yesterday a 1.9 percent drop in daily circulation, 
and a 2.5 percent decline on Sundays, over the last six months, compared 
with the period a year ago. The weak numbers for 814 daily newspapers, 
reported by the Audit Bureau of Circulations, represent the largest 
circulation losses for the industry in more than a decade, and indicate an 
acceleration of the decline. The rate of decline has been 0.5 percent to 1 
percent since newspaper circulation peaked in the mid-1980's, analysts said.

"I don't see any bright spots and I don't see any reasonable expectation 
this is going to change anytime soon," said John Morton, a longtime 
newspaper industry analyst. "The Internet may have exacerbated the trend, 
but this is a problem that existed long before the Internet became ubiquitous."

John Murray, vice president for circulation marketing for the Newspaper 
Association of America, said, "The smallest newspapers did a little bit 
better than the average."

Only 3 out of 10 newspapers gained in daily circulation, and only 1 in 4 
papers gained on Sunday. "This is a decline that has been going on for many 
years and we're looking at more of the same," said Colby Atwood, a media 
analyst for Borrell Associates. "The underlying forces at work have not 
changed. That young people aren't reading newspapers is a pretty fatal 
formula for any business. If all your customers are dying off, you've got 
to be concerned, and that's what's happening in the newspaper industry."

Among the newspapers that showed the biggest declines were the large 
regional dailies owned by the Tribune Company, which has been shaken by a 
circulation scandal at Newsday, its newspaper on Long Island. The Los 
Angeles Times, owned by Tribune, reported daily circulation fell 6.5 
percent, to 907,997, and Sunday circulation fell 7.9 percent. The Chicago 
Tribune said its average weekday circulation fell 6.9 percent, to 573,743, 
and Sunday fell 4.7 percent, to 953,815.

Both newspapers issued statements acknowledging the declines and saying 
they were investing heavily to improve results. A spokesman for Newsday 
said it would not release circulation numbers until the audit bureau 
completed its audit of the six months ended in March.

The Dallas Morning News, which is owned by the Belo Corporation and which 
also had a circulation scandal, did not report numbers but said it expected 
circulation to fall 9 percent daily, and 13 percent on Sunday.

Newspapers with national circulation strategies fared slightly better. The 
Wall Street Journal said its weekday circulation declined 0.8 percent, to 
about 2.07 million after aggressive price increases. USA Today held steady 
with an average circulation of about 2.8 million, despite raising its price 
to 75 cents from 50 cents in the last six months. And buoyed by the growth 
of its national editions, The New York Times posted 0.2 percent gains. 
Daily circulation rose to 1.14 million and Sunday circulation reached about 
1.68 million.

"We have had a very strong expansion plan for increasing the availability 
of The New York Times outside the New York marketplace, and it's been very 
successful," said Catherine Mathis, The Times's spokeswoman. She said that 
home delivery had expanded to 318 markets from 266 and that seven printing 
sites would be added in the next 18 months.

Newspapers have lost readers to the Internet, which offers much news for 
free. Readership among the young, in particular, has declined. Executives 
at The Chicago Tribune and The Los Angeles Times attribute at least part of 
their troubles to the introduction of a "do not call" list in 2003, which 
has made it harder for telemarketers to sell subscriptions.

"There's a collision of factors," said John Kimball, chief marketing 
officer for the newspaper association. "Newspapers are in the marketplace 
of ideas, and there are a lot more options than there were 10 or 15 years ago."

Mr. Kimball said newspapers were trying new ways to retain subscribers, 
including billing to credit or debit cards so they do not have to go out of 
their way to renew. Other papers are offering alternative publications like 
tabloids geared to younger readers or fast-growing populations, like Hispanics.

Mr. Atwood, the analyst, said that he expected the circulation of 
traditional newspapers to continue to decline but that there was hope for 
papers that change their models. "We'll begin to see papers depart from the 
traditional models, and that will slow their decline," he said. "The smart 
ones will start diversifying out of their former core businesses and 
positioning themselves to be out of it before it's too late."

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