U.S. newspapers saw their print circulations fall during the height of the pandemic last year — and for some, it was a free-fall, according to the Press Gazette, based on data from the Alliance for Audited Media (AAM).
From Q1 to the pandemic period of Q2 and Q3, the average circ decline was 20%. It is not yet clear if these papers are recovering, or if they ever will, but it may explain why the newspapers are increasingly turning to digital projects.
The biggest hit — 60% — was suffered by USA Today. From Q1 to the second two quarters in the spring and summer, the paper went from 486,579 copies to 194,369, a loss of 292,210.
The Wall Street Journal was second, enduring a 19% decline. The paper went from 994,600 to 810,058, a drop of 184,542.
The article explains that USA Today and the WSJ were “particularly badly hit by falling sales to hotels as travel dried up during the pandemic.
Only one paper — the Tampa Bay Times — enjoyed an increase: 4%. However, the figures are for average Wednesday circulation. The paper switched from daily to twice-weekly, the Press Gazette reports.
The New York Post was third among papers losing circulation, with a 15% loss, going from 162,478 to 138,141. Fourth was The New York Times, which lost 12% of its print circulation, going from 410,562 to 350,015, a drop of 50,547 copies.
The report covers the 10 newspapers with the largest weekday circulations in the U.S.
The Los Angeles Times went down by 10%, going from 183,015 to 173,629, a 19,386 falloff. Next was The Washington Post, which went from 206,824 in Q11 to 187,671 in Q2 and Q3, a 19,386 reduction or 9%.
In contrast, the remaining paper in the top 10 all had declines in the single digits. These included Newsday (-4%), the Chicago Tribune (-3%) and The Star Tribune (-2%).