Newspaper Circulation Down To Startling New Low .. Is This The End ?

 According to an article from the Associated Press, the last ABC (Audit Bureau of Circulations) numbers show the average daily circulation at 379 newspapers dropped 10.6 percent during the last audit period of April to September of this year.

Out of all media, print has been hit the hardest in the past three years leading up to the current economic hard times in regards to ad revenue. Throw into the mix access to news from a multitude of blogs and websites, including many newspapers who have their own website, and the future of the newspaper industry continues to look bleak.

Several newspapers across the United States have folded or ceased printing a publication to go completely on-line such as Hearst Corporation owned, The Seattle Post-Intelligencer (see related earlier posting). In Arizona, earlier this year the East Valley Tribune newspaper based in Mesa went to an on-line publication, dropped most home delivery and offers free editions of the newspaper at rack locations across the East Valley. The newspaper now only prints an edition on Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday primarily to offer the standard fare of retail circulars.

Here in Danbury rumors are being heard on the street The News-Times will only publish four days a week sometime in the future. The newspaper is owned by Hearst Corporation which also owns the Connecticut Post, The Advocate and the Greenwich Time.

This spring The News-Times ceased its actual printing operations in Danbury and now all four newspapers owned by Hearst in Connecticut are printed at the Connecticut Post facility in Bridgeport. Prior to that The Advocate was printed in Danbury along with The News-Times while the Connecticut Post and the Greewich Time were printed in Bridgeport.

In the course of full disclosure, this writer worked for The News-Times in the circulation department until earlier this year and writes the LGBT news and commentary blog, Focus On the Rainbow which appears on the websites of the four Hearst owned Connecticut newspapers.

It's been reported for several months that Hearst Corporation has threaten to sell or close the San Francisco Chronicle if expenses can't be brought down and put under control. And earlier this month the New York Times began a San Francisco edition even in light of the economic hardships which newspapers are experiencing, perhaps in this writer's opinion, to be established in the San Francisco market if the Chronicle shuts down its presses forever.

As the article by the Associated Press reports, Newspapers are trying to recover from a steep drop in advertising revenue — traditionally their main source of money. The worst U.S. recession since World War II and the lure of the Internet have combined to make the industry's annual ad revenue $20 billion less than it was three years ago.

While broadcasting has also been hit in the downturn of ad revenue, both radio and TV have cut costs through downsizing (this writer was caught up in the downsizing in 2006 at the CBS Broadcasting Radio Division along with over 100 others), selling off divisions or stations and developing new ways to offer programming or other information provided by the networks, and forming partnerships with other companies to distribute programming and/or news thus creating new sources of ad revenue.

CBS is already treading the water of charging cable companies for carrying the CBS Television Network and Rupert Murdoch is thinking along the same lines for the Fox Network.

Unfortunately for the print media such development isn't possible other than creating websites for its properties.

So in the long run will newspapers completely become as extinct as the dinosaurs ?

Most likely not, after all those weekly sale circulars have to get into the hands of consumers somehow. But it's a fair bet over the next five years or so, the newspaper industry will look a lot different than it does today, and light years different from just twenty years ago.

For a related story, read the article by The News-Times staff reporter Michael C. Juliano, "Small Papers Show Gains" which takes a look at while larger papers may fall to the wayside, papers in smaller communities in the United States may stand a better chance for survival as they provide what larger papers can't, news and even in many cases involvement in the communities they serve.

You can read my LGBT article/commentary blog at Hearst Newspapers, Focus On The Rainbow by clicking here.

[This article is cross-posted from my blog FOCUS, hence the coloring of type. Pink type are links, green is cut/paste] 

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