Circulation and Readership of Local Newspapers Reach an All-Time Low

In a recent study, the Pew Research Group found readership of local newspapers has fallen by 50 percent since 1999.

Last year, daily local newspaper circulation, including digital efforts, hit its lowest number across the nation since 1940.

The estimated weekday circulation for print and digital editions combined was 28.6 million–half of what it had been back in 1999.

The declining readership, plummeting advertising revenue and growing digital preferences, Pew found, meant fewer employees.

One in four newspapers announced layoffs last year and the number of newspaper employees dropped  47 percent within the past decade. Digital publications did slightly better but, last year, one in seven of them also let staffers go.

“Newspapers are continuing to be pummeled by layoffs,” said Elizabeth Grieco with the Pew Research Center.

Local newspapers are continuing to lose ad revenue and Pew maintained, as more Americans turn to Google and social media, “many news companies have been gasping for air.” Newspapers lost 57 percent of their advertising and circulation revenue and 49 percent of their weekday print circulation from 2000 to 2018.

Local newspapers across Florida have not been immune to these national trends.  In 2017, the Orlando Sentinel laid off more than 100 employees. In recent years, Florida Today out of Brevard County laid off reporters that were there for many years. Last year, the Florida Times Union laid off dozens of employees.  This year, the Daytona Beach News-Journal announced it would eliminate 79 positions.

This topic was a big issue for callers last week on talk radio.

WBOB News Director Roger Henderson in Jacksonville said the phones blew up when the audience was asked why aren’t people renewing their subscription to their local newspaper.

“Some said cost,” Henderson said. “Most said they didn’t like the slant to the left by the newspaper’s editorial boards.”

Wayne Dillon, a commentator with the Florida I Heart Radio network, said talk radio has given people an outreach to get their news in a quicker amount of time than papers do.

“People feel that their local newspapers don’t offer both sides to certain local issues and that’s where local talk radio has been dominating the scene,” said Dillon.

 

Reach Ed Dean at ed.dean@floridadaily.com.

 

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