Print Still Dominates Local Newspaper Reading

Just over half (55%) of the U.S. newspaper audience still reads their local newspaper in print only -- with no overlapping digital consumption.

That's according to a new survey of 150 U.S. media markets conducted by Scarborough on behalf of the Newspaper Association of America. It found another 15% read their local newspapers both in print and online, while an additional 10% read newspaper content on a mobile device, as well as print and online.

Just 4% read their newspaper in print and mobile, eschewing other online consumption.

Given all these numbers, it’s easy to deduce that the digital-only newspaper audience (including people who avoid print and only read newspapers online, via mobile devices, or both) actually remains fairly small. Indeed, just 7% of those surveyed said they read their local newspaper only online, while just 3% read it with a mobile device, and a mere 5% read it both online and with a mobile device.

That works out to 15% of the local newspaper audience using only digital channels.

The NAA also noted that total daily circulation is increasing, thanks mostly to the new digital subscription strategies adopted by newspapers in recent years. But this growth is concentrated among big national and regional newspapers.

According to the NAA analysis of 541 papers tracked by the Alliance for Audited Media, the top five papers (each with a circulation over 500,000) saw their total combined circulation jump 22.3% from mid-2012 to mid-2013.

At the same time, however, newspapers with circulation below 25,000 saw their total circulation slip 3.9%, while papers with circulation between 25,000 and 50,000 fell 4.6%. Newspapers with circulations from 50,000 to 500,000 also saw their total combined circulation decrease, although with small 
proportional declines.

"Newspaper Stand" photo from Shutterstock.

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2 comments about "Print Still Dominates Local Newspaper Reading".
  1. Paul Robinson from Viridian Development Corporation , February 26, 2014 at 6:04 p.m.
    You have lots more choices with a print newspaper since it has worked quite well since Gutenberg invented movable type. You can skim a printed document easier than any electronic one unless the index is very good. Print newspapers work where you can't recharge your reader's battery, when you don't have a reader, where you don't have Internet or electricity, and works in any environment where you have light, whether that's bright sunlight, candlelight, flashlight or incandescent/fluorescent, or moonlight. And I suspect even 500 years from now, paper will still be the easiest way to read any document longer than one page.
  2. Paul Robinson from Viridian Development Corporation , February 26, 2014 at 6:39 p.m.
    Let me clarify this a little. For very short documents - like this missive, anything of 1 page or less - digital works nicely. Also "tomes," anything weighing more than the reader. (I nearly swallowed my tongue when I saw the PDF manual for the complete reference to the MySQL database was 5,000 pages!) So for documents longer than about 1, maybe 2 pages and less than about 400, print works better. (I really doubt anyone prints that case of paper-length MySQL manual.)