The circulations of the largest US newspapers fell 14% in the year to March 2023, according to new figures shared with Press Gazette.
Combined average daily print circulation of the 25 biggest dailies was 2.6 million in the year to March, compared to 3 million the year before, according to data from the Alliance for Audited Media.
Jeff Bezos’ Washington Post climbed one place in the ranking to third place (139,232), while News Corp-owned New York Post, which proved to be one of the US’s most resilient papers during the pandemic, took fourth spot (135,983). The title, which has successively climbed up recent rankings, saw the smallest year-on-year circulation drop among the top ten papers (7%).
Gannett’s USA Today, which was ranked third in our last ranking in 2022, fell to fifth place with a circulation of 132,641 (down 17% year-on-year). Prior to the pandemic the paper’s circulation was 486,579. The title has not bounced back from the pandemic’s hit to sales to hotels, which would provide free copies to guests.
The Los Angeles Times, which is owned by billionaire surgeon Patrick Soon-Shiong, also fell by 17%, to 118,758.
No newspaper in the top 25 increased its circulation year-on-year. Honolulu Star-Advertiser saw the smallest annual decline at 5%, falling to an average circulation of 75,457.
The Denver Post and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, which entered our ranking for the first time this year, saw the biggest declines among the papers reported on. The Denver Post’s average circulation was down 27% year-on-year to 41,545, echoing a similar decline in the year to March 2022, while the Atlanta Journal-Constitution was down 32% to 39,070.
Newspaper circulations have been in decline for years but the pandemic increased the rate of decline. In the first quarter of 2019, the 25 biggest titles in the US had a combined circulation of 4.7 million, meaning a 36% drop overall.
Data on digital subscriptions presents a more promising picture as many major publishers have invested in securing digital reader revenue. But print remains an important revenue stream for the industry, both for circulation and advertising income.
The New York Times Company reported 9 million digital-only subscribers as of the end of the first quarter of 2023, an increase of 8% from a year earlier, while The Wall Street Journal recorded 3.3 million digital subscribers in March. Both titles regularly top Press Gazette's 100k Club ranking of English-language newsbrands.
Among the leading local titles, the Los Angeles Times is thought to have some 500,000 subscribers, while the Boston Globe has some 255,000 digital subscribers.
March 2023 print figures for the San Francisco Chronicle, Tampa Bay Times and St. Louis Post-Dispatch were not available from AAM. Press Gazette used September 2022 numbers for the San Francisco Chronicle and Tampa Bay Times, and March 2022 numbers for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
Most circulations reported are Monday-Friday averages of newspaper titles. Where this data was not available, Wednesday circulation data was used. Affiliated titles are not included in our circulation figures.
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