Daily Newspaper Reading (Print or Online) Down to Two in Five

According to the findings of a new Adweek Media/Harris Poll, of 2,136 U.S. adults surveyed online between December 14 and 16, 2009 by Harris Interactive, the era of Americans reading a daily newspaper each and every day is coming to an end.

Just two in five U.S. adults (43%) say they read a daily newspaper, either online or in print almost every day. Just over seven in ten Americans (72%) say they read one at least once a week while 81% read a daily newspaper at least once a month. One in ten adults (10%) say they never read a daily newspaper.

Frequency of Reading Daily Newspaper (% of Age Groups; Base: All U.S. adults)


Age Group







At Least Once a Month (Net)






   At Least Once a Week (Subnet)






Almost every day






A few times a week






Once a week






A few times a month






A few times a year












Source: The Harris Poll, January 2009

One reason for the dying of the daily newspaper, says the report, is the graying of the daily readership. Almost two-thirds of those aged 55 and older say they still read a daily newspaper almost every day. The younger one is, however, the less often they read newspapers. But less than one quarter of those aged 18-34 say they read a newspaper almost every day while 17% in this age group say they never read a daily newspaper.

One potential business model that newspapers are exploring is charging a monthly fee to read a daily newspaper's content online. This model, however, seems unlikely to work, as 77% of online adults say they would not be willing to pay anything to read a newspaper's content online. While some are willing to pay, one in five online adults would only pay between $1 and $10 a month for this online content and only 5% would pay more than $10 a month.

There is a slight regional difference in who would pay for online content. Over four in five online adults in the Northeast say they would not be willing to pay anything to read a daily newspaper's content online. Those across the country, however, are more willing. While seven in ten Westerners still say they would not pay, almost one-quarter of Westerners would pay between $1 and $10 a month to read a paper's content online.

Amount Willing to Pay (per month) For Daily Newspaper Content Online (% of Category Respondents; Base: All online adults)















Willing to pay (Net)






   $1 - $10






   $11 - $20






Source: The Harris Poll, January 2009

The report concludes that the struggles of the daily newspaper will continue as Americans have more and more ways to find the news content they need and want. The challenge for newspapers will be discovering a way to get their content to people and make money doing so. One area they were intently exploring was charging for online content, though it appears they need to find another way.

For more information, please visit Harris here.

13 comments about "Daily Newspaper Reading (Print or Online) Down to Two in Five".
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  1. Bob Chatham from Andera, January 29, 2010 at 8:39 a.m.

    What about the bias inherent in conducting an online-only poll of newspaper readers? Kind of like looking for teatotalers in a bar...

  2. Randy Novak from NSA Media, January 29, 2010 at 9:24 a.m.

    Bob from Andera... I agree with you. I love how these print polls are done online and none of the "experts" questions it. If the reverse were done and the NAA did a poll in newspapers asking about online usage the "digerati" would be all over it.

  3. Paula Lynn from Who Else Unlimited, January 29, 2010 at 9:29 a.m.

    One day, 18 year olds will become 55+ and I promise, many habits and needs will change. But the problem, again, is not the net, it is the newspapers themselves and their management with their heads buried in 1955 with a CYA mentality.

  4. Alex Kellner from News and Record, January 29, 2010 at 9:40 a.m.

    Newspaper readership is always stronger in older age groups, not because "they have always read one" but because older individuals value being knowledgeable about local news and are involved in the community. The majority of younger adults, especially those that are not married and do not have kids, would prefer to be knowledgeable about national and international news which is not the strength of the local newspaper any longer.
    Also, people will change their minds very quickly about paying for online content when they realize that the aggregators no longer have content to aggregate.

  5. Lara Colton from Nielsen, January 29, 2010 at 10 a.m.

    And yet in November, Scarborough released:

    This morning, Scarborough issued a press release announcing the latest Integrated Newspaper Audience (INA)* finding, that three?quarters (74%) of U.S. adults, or nearly 171 million people, read a newspaper ?? in print or online ?? during the past week. The data analysis indicates that newspapers are still read in print or online by a critical mass of adults in the U.S. on a daily and weekly basis. The analysis of Scarborough audience data not only indicated that newspapers are being read by a majority of adults in print and online, but also that these Integrated Newspaper Audiences continue to attract educated, affluent readers.

    Makes me question not online the online only sampling but was it weighted for age as well? Online adults still have demographic skews and do not mirror all adults yet so by using online only sampling it is incorrect to project those findings to total adults.

    Furthermore, you state people are looking for "alternative" sources for news, where do you think these "alternative" sources get their news? The local newspapers.

    I am so weary of these "The sky is falling" for newspaper research reports that are just flat out wrong.

  6. Joseph Franz, January 29, 2010 at 10:05 a.m.

    I think you media types are hanging on. Newspapers will be a thing of the past in 10 years. Information including adverting will be pushed to mobile devices, and the remaining people will trend toward television news.

  7. Walter Sabo from HitViews, January 29, 2010 at 10:24 a.m.

    In every city in America, the single daily newspaper outgrosses all the radio stations in that city combined. In LA the LA Times Classifieds gross over 1 BILLION DOLLARS.

    But the death is coming, not because it's paper but because the editorial is progressively out of synch with what most people consider to be -their- news.

    Question? What days of the week were the most and least read?

  8. Cathe Gorski from Kohl's, January 29, 2010 at 2:17 p.m.

    I agree with the comments questioning how this survey was taken(online). What I REALLY question is the size of the sample. 2,100 out of 300,000,000 US citizens? Not NEARLY enough to be making such bold proclamations about all adults and how they consume print. Shame on Media Post for even considering it part of a "research" brief.

  9. Melissa Pollak from National Science Foundation, January 29, 2010 at 6:47 p.m.

    Actually, Harris Interactive is probably the best of the online survey operations. Those who question the small sample size need to take a course in statistics.

  10. Richard Ebel from Glenrich Business Studies, January 29, 2010 at 9:54 p.m.

    This report is really scary--that is, if you believe that maintaining a democracy is worthwhile.

  11. Randy Novak from NSA Media, February 1, 2010 at 11:06 a.m.

    This is all a matter of perspective and spin, which generally carries an anti-newspaper bias in these types of forums. Not just an observation... let's look at the facts: the Adweek/Harris poll indicates "72% of adults read a newspaper in print or online at least once a week", while the recent Scarborough study indicates that "74% of U.S. adults read a newspaper in print or online during the past week." Statistically almost identical, yet the Adweek/Harris poll headline is "Daily Newspaper Reading (Print or Online) Down to Two in Five." The newspaper industry at times can be its own worst enemy. However, the most damaging impact is done by those who spin articles and headlines with a negative bias because newspapers are an easy target. Note to those with an agenda - newspapers are far from dead. December National ad revenues were UP 9% at Gannett and Classified revenues are improving as well.

  12. vr villa, February 1, 2010 at 11:30 a.m.

    I used to read 5 newspapers a day.

    Not so much a 'news hound' as an information hound.

    I would still read newspapers, but, they long ago ceased being information sources, but more just manufacturers of mis-information, and distributors of blarney.

    I still read much of what is really news, not covered by newspapers, the general main stream, or what ever.

    Had the papers actually reported some semblance of what is news, and what is REALLY going on, with out bias, on the 'news' section...

    The internet would be there, but, the media market would not have killed itself, having to have clowns and special effects to chase a dwindling audience.

    When I read 5 newspapers, I would read all 5, reading 30 or 50 column inches to find the whole story is only one line.

    An air plane crashed.

    Everything else, on the first day, was fabrications, opinions of people that knew nothing, but, much more than the reporters.

    Nothing for the next 5 days, added any credibility to what was said.

    Maybe two to three weeks later, some real truth of the story would be told. Not for 'smash headlines' or 'self aggrandizement' of the reporter, but real news. It was usually buried way off on page 30, lower right hand column of the left hand page, because it proved everything said was false, other than the one fact...

    an air plane crashed.

    THAT is the problem with the media, especially papers. They wish to be reporters, but they are journalists. They don't write reports, but journalize their opinions, which have nothing to do with news. Those are editorials, which do not belong on the front page, as reported news.

    The report ignores this fact.

  13. Jerry Foster from Energraphics, February 2, 2010 at 3:45 a.m.

    To the person who said "I fear for democracy" (as newspapers fail)...that is precisely why newspapers are dying. A cadre of "journalists" has tried to propagandize over the past 40 years that the USA is or should be a democracy when the USA never was and hopefully never will be a democracy.

    Majority rule is mob rule. It is two wolves and a lamb deciding what to have for lunch and, in a two party system, the two parties are the 2 wolves (ironically, we only have a 2 party system because we allow people to get elected with only pluralities - a majority election system would force run-off elections, allowing people to vote 3rd party more often in the first round). This dynamic doesn't change when one party says it looks out for "minorities" because that party will only look out for "minorities" who do its bidding.

    For that reason, the founding fathers made it very clear the USA was to be a "republic"....where a judge adhering to the Constitution can overthrow any law (and where Natural Law compels citizens to disobey bad laws).

    It was classic watching the US President helplessly flail against the 9 members of the Supreme Court the other day. Whether their recent decision was right or wrong in the face of a majority of Americans supposedly disagreeing with them, their stony glare made it very clear that majority rule doesn't run the USA. Keeping mob rule from happening is what US service-people are fighting for.

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