August 31, 2021

The top 25 U.S. newspapers lost 20% of daily subscriptions between the first quarter of 2020 and the first quarter of this year. The numbers, based on Alliance for Audited Media reports, come from analysis by the British media news site Press Gazette.

I can’t improve on their report, very much worth a look, with paper-by-paper results and some knockout charts and tables.

Among the highlights:

  • National papers had the deepest declines. The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times and USA Today together lost more than 500,000. USA Today, with its hotel-heavy distribution, did worst of all with a decline of 62% year to year.
  • The Wall Street Journal now has the largest daily print circulation by a wide margin at 787,000. The New York Times is down to less than half that — 363,000 — as it has switched to emphasizing paid digital subscriptions while letting its pricey print circulation slide.
  • The best performers among the top 25 were The Star Tribune in Minneapolis (down only 7%), the New York Post and The Boston Globe (both down 8%).

For the analysis, Press Gazette looked at just daily print, excluding Sunday or other weekend editions.

Press Gazette, founded in 1965, covers a range of topics (for instance, the latest on celebrity journalism in an interview with the editor of People). Most of the stories concern the United Kingdom, but it ranges abroad, too.

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Rick Edmonds is media business analyst for the Poynter Institute where he has done research and writing for the last fifteen years. His commentary on…
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