Decreasing Newspaper Readership
Newspapers are nothing without readers: no argument here.
“They are the reason we produce the paper in the first place,” Noah Bombard, editor of The Beacon in Acton, said.
Many newspapers across the country have had yearly decreases in readership and circulation numbers for years. These decreases have added up causing newspaper editors to worry.
“We’ve lost 5,000 subscribers in the last decade. That’s not unusual,” James H. Smith, executive editor, The Record-Journal in Meriden, Conn., said.
Ten years ago, the Record-Journal’s subscribers totaled 30,000; today the paper has 25,000, Smith said.
The bad news doesn’t seem to be ending for newspapers. Research conducted in the area of readership is only echoing what newspapers have known all along: newspapers are losing readers.
“Nationwide newspaper circulation peaked in the 1970s,” David Solomon, editor of The Telegraph, Nashua, N.H, said. Studies conducted of American newspapers today show that readership is traveling down a continuously steady downward spiral.
According to the recent “The State of the News Media 2005” report by the Project for Excellence in Journalism: “‘Newspaper circulation is in decline,’ the inaugural edition of this report declared a year ago…it's clear that things are worse than people thought.”
The problem is newspapers can’t afford to lose readers because they are nothing without their readers.
“Without readers, a paper would have no value, no audience, no purpose,” Solomon said.
When newspapers lose readers they also lose advertising. Without advertising, newspapers lose their greatest source of income and papers have no way of paying the high costs of production. And without a product newspapers are nothing.
“One important point about newspapers is that they’re businesses, and businesses need to make a profit. They can only do that if they have readers,” the Canadian-based Media Awareness Network said on its website.
Recently, new media outlets have been blamed for the decrease in newspaper readership.
“The venerable newspaper is in trouble. Under sustained assault from cable television, the Internet, all-news radio and lifestyles so cram-packed they leave little time for the daily paper, the industry is struggling to remake itself,” Frank Ahrens wrote in The Washington Post.
The Internet is newspaper readership’s latest threat but it isn’t the first hurdle that newspapers have had to overcome.
The radio was newspaper readership’s first threat.
The first radio broadcast was in 1906 but it wasn’t until the 1930s that newspapers really began to feel that their readership numbers were threatened by the talking box.
Though newspaper readership was hurt by the modernity that radio offered its listeners, papers remained in the safe zone until television came into the scene.
In 1948 “surveys estimate that only 10 percent have seen a television set,” Darrell West, “The Rise of Television and Talk Radio”, said on...