Newspapers down 4.6%; T&G down 5.6%

posted by Mike on October 28th, 2008

Daily newspaper circulation in the US was down 4.6% for the six-month period ending in September, as compared with that period in 2007:

According to ABC for the 507 newspapers reporting in this period, daily circulation slipped 4.6% to 38,165,848 copies. For the 571 papers, Sunday dropped 4.8% to 43,631,646 copies.

The Boston papers fell more like 10%; the Worcester Telegram & Gazette kept pace with an only 5.6% drop:

At the Telegram & Gazette, which like the Globe is owned by New York Times Co. (NYSE: NYT), weekday circulation fell 5.6 percent and Sunday circulation fell 7 percent.

The previous reporting period had similar results; see Newspapers down 3.5%; T&G down 4%.

This is, as usual for the T&G, not good news, but is much better than the 2 reporting periods in 2007, when T&G circulation was dropping at 2 times faster and 5 times faster than the national average.

For better or for worse, newspapers have become necessary for the functioning of public life and politics in this country. There’s no reason why digital media couldn’t fill that role, but it’s not happening around here. I don’t care so much about the circulation losses as the job cuts that accompany them. The T&G had a hard enough time reporting on Worcester five years ago; there’s no sign that fewer staff are generating more and better journalism.

I hope that on an upcoming 508 podcast we can talk to a T&G person about the challenges there. Too often we’ve resorted to unfocused griping about that paper’s prospects; a measured, adult conversation would be nice.

By coincidence, I came across two relevant links yesterday.

37signals say Target micromedia: “When it comes to spreading a story, the mainstream media isn’t as important as the micromedia. Being written up at the right blogs has had way more impact for us than the press we’ve gotten in big-circulation publications.”

Nice interview with novelist/journalist/visionary Bruce Sterling. “What should newspapers do?” “The simplest solution is die.”

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