Fewer and fewer people
are buying newspapers today!

Newspapers and newsboys are disappearing

Between 1950 and 2010, the paid cir­cu­la­tion of dai­ly news­pa­pers fell dev­as­tat­ing­ly in Cana­da, Great Britain and the Unit­ed State of Amer­i­ca. The col­lapse con­tin­ues today with the clos­ing of more news­pa­pers in com­mu­ni­ties large and small. Par­tic­u­lar­ly the small!

In 1950, British nation­al dai­ly news­pa­pers sold about 21 mil­lion copies every work­ing day. By 2010 they only sold 10.1 mil­lion. As a per­cent­age of house­holds that was a drop from 150 per cent of house­holds to only 31 per cent. The fall in sales for Sun­day papers was more dra­mat­ic. Pub­lish­ers sold 31 mil­lion papers each Sun­day in 1950 but only 9.9 mil­lion copies each Sun­day in 2010. In house­hold terms that was a crush­ing fall from 200 per cent of house­holds to only 39 per cent. 

Six com­pa­nies in the UK account for over 80% of local news­pa­per titles – more than four times the com­bined num­ber of titles pub­lished by the remain­ing 56 pub­lish­ers – and 85% of revenue.

Three com­pa­nies in Cana­da own 60% of dai­ly news­pa­per titles and a grow­ing per­cent­age of the over 1,000 com­mu­ni­ty news­pa­per titles in Canada.

In Cana­da, total dai­ly news­pa­per paid cir­cu­la­tion in 1950 was equiv­a­lent to more than 100 per cent of house­holds; by 2010 it was about 30 per cent.

The decline of local news­pa­pers is com­mon in com­mu­ni­ties every­where. Week­ly papers are dis­ap­pear­ing and the dailies that still pub­lish have few­er and few­er pages and less and less local news.

The Guardian in the Unit­ed King­dom report­ed how the loss of a week­ly paper affect­ed the peo­ple of the bor­ough of Wal­sall, a mar­ket town in the West Mid­lands of Eng­land nes­tled between Birm­ing­ham, Wolver­hamp­ton and Lichfield.

Wal­sall “ has a coun­cil, a mag­is­trates court, sev­er­al MPs and a lot of res­i­dents who want to know what is going on in their local area, one of the country’s most deprived. “ writes Jim Water­son, Media edi­tor of The Guardian. “What it is lack­ing is jour­nal­ists to pro­vide the goods – and an answer to the wider ques­tion of what local news should look like in 2019.”

The 300,000  res­i­dents of Wal­sall lost their last remain­ing news­pa­per in 2009. The Wal­sall Observ­er, found­ed in 1868, was a region­al week­ly that sur­vived its rival and absorbed such com­peti­tors as the Wal­sall Adver­tis­er. But by 1990 the paid cir­cu­la­tion was drop­ping and the Observ­er became a free newspaper.

By 2006, it had gone from nine jour­nal­ists on staff  25 years ear­li­er to one senior, one trainee, and an edi­tor shared with two oth­er week­ly papers; and, the Nation­al Union of Jour­nal­ists charged, was reduced to a sit­u­a­tion where “the paper large­ly regur­gi­tates sub­mit­ted mate­r­i­al and press releas­es with lit­tle or no challenge.”.

In 2009, own­ers Trin­i­ty Mir­ror closed it down along with sev­er­al oth­er Mid­lands weeklies.

Will local news survive?

The Expand­ing News Desert and the web­site, http://www.usnewsdeserts.com, offers exten­sive results of research into the health of local jour­nal­ism in the Unit­ed States of Amer­i­ca. It was pro­duced by Cen­ter for Inno­va­tion and Sus­tain­abil­i­ty in Local Media in the School of Media and Jour­nal­ism at the Uni­ver­si­ty of North Car­oli­na at Chapel Hill.

The research rais­es ques­tions about the own­er­ship of news­pa­pers, where have they dis­ap­peared, is dig­i­tal fill­ing the void, where are the eth­nic voic­es and is pub­lic broad­cast­ing an answer.

Report sec­tions include:

The News Land­scape in 2020: Trans­formed and Diminished

  • Van­ish­ing newspapers
  •  Van­ish­ing read­ers and journalists
  •   The News Media giants

The News Land­scape of the Future: Transformed…and Renewed?

  • The chal­lenges and oppor­tu­ni­ties for eth­nic media
  •  A big­ger role for pub­lic broadcasting
  •   The path for­ward: rein­vent­ing local news

Here’s another terrific reference:


A dis­cus­sion paper from Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Man­age­ment Inc. 6 May 2011
News­pa­pers are dis­ap­pear­ing; mag­a­zines are dis­ap­pear­ing also. Once there were pub­li­ca­tions that car­ried top­ics of inter­est to just about everyone.