There is no end in sight for the long secular decline in the newspaper and magazine publishing businesses, judging by the latest figures from the U.S. Census Bureau, which track total revenues for these media as part of its quarterly estimates for U.S. service industries.
According to the Census, total U.S. newspaper publishing revenues including advertising and circulation fell 4.4% from $6.51 billion in the first quarter of 2015 to $6.22 billion in the first quarter of 2016. (The Census doesn’t provide separate figures for ads and circ.)
U.S. magazine publishers saw total revenues fall from $6.66 billion to $6.36 billion, for a decline of 4.5% over the same period, again across both ads and circ.
The first-quarter declines come atop similar percentage declines in total annual revenues last year, also per the Census. Newspaper publishers saw total revenues fall 3.8% from $28.1 billion in 2014 to $27 billion in 2015, while magazine publishing revenues fell 3.7% from $29.4 billion in 2014 to $28.3 billion in 2015.
The Newspaper Association of America and the Publishers Information Bureau, which used to report revenue figures for their respective industries, both stopped publicizing this data in recent years.
The latest round of declines is especially discouraging because, in addition to tracking the continuing free-fall in print ad revenues, they underline the harsh reality that growth in digital advertising. Once hailed as the savior of the publishing business, it has failed to offset losses on the print side.
This probably has something to do with the fact that for newspapers at least, digital ad revenues are not growing.
According to separate figures from Pew Research, U.S. newspaper publishers’ digital ad revenues also decreased 2% last year. For comparison’s sake, total Internet revenues grew 20.4% to $59.6 billion, according to the Interactive Advertising Bureau.