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February 19, 2024updated 08 Mar 2024 9:13am

Top 25 US newspaper circulations: Print circulations of largest titles fall 14% in year to September 2023

The half year to September 2023 saw more print decline for the biggest titles in the US, although digital is looking up for many.

By Aisha Majid

The combined average newspaper circulation of the 25 largest US titles fell 14% in the year to September 2023, according to new figures obtained by Press Gazette.

The decline in combined year-on-year average circulation was the same as that seen in the 12 months to March 2023 (also 14%, although the group of titles was slightly different).

Combined average daily print circulation of the 25 biggest dailies was 2.3 million in the six months to September, compared to 2.7 million the year before, and 2.6 million in the six months to March 2023 according to data from the Alliance for Audited Media.

News Corp’s business-focused The Wall Street Journal (555,182) and The New York Times (267,639) remain the biggest dailies in the US, although their print circulations fell by 14% and 13% year-on-year respectively.

Note on the data: ranking of the top 25 biggest print circulations among a list of the 50 biggest circulations (print and digital) provided to us by Alliance for Audited Media.

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Print decline however, does not reflect the industry's overall health.

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While print remains an important revenue stream, data on digital subscriptions presents a more promising picture. Many major publishers have invested in securing digital reader revenue and several titles in this ranking have built up large digital subscriber bases. The New York Times has in particular seen impressive digital subscription growth in recent years, counting 9.7 million subscribers as of December 2023, while the Wall Street Journal, which has a larger print readership than the NY Times, counted 3.5 million. Both titles regularly top Press Gazette's 100k Club ranking of English-language newsbrands. Earlier in February, News Corp reported a year-on-year increase in second quarter revenue driven in part by growth at Wall Street Jones' publisher Dow Jones.

Some more locally-focused titles such as The Philadelphia Inquirer and Newsday have also steadily built up a digital subscriber base. Newsday for example, now counts 57,000 digital subscribers. The publisher however, told Press Gazette in 2022 that it intends to hold onto print as long as possible.

The New York Post claimed third place for print circulation with an average readership of 131,217, overtaking Jeff Bezos’ Washington Post (127,724) which fell to fourth. Although the New York City News Corp tabloid saw a circulation fall of 8% compared to September 2022, this was the smallest fall among the top ten biggest titles. This makes this the second report period in a row for which The New York Post has had the smallest year-on-year circulation drop among the top ten.

No newspaper in the top 25 increased its circulation year-on-year, although Hearst's San Francisco Chronicle (average circulation of 50,843, down 6% year-on-year) and Honolulu Star-Advertiser (71,646, down 7%) saw the smallest falls. They with the New York Post were the only three titles to see single-digit falls.

Gannett’s USA Today, which fell from third to fifth place in our last ranking remained in fifth spot with a circulation of 121,603 (down 16% 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.

The Los Angeles Times, ranked sixth, saw a fall in its print circulation of 17% to 105,676, although like the New York Times and others on this list it has a substantial digital subscriber base of 550,000 - the highest for any English-language local publisher - according to information shared by the publisher with Press Gazette.

Alden Capital-owned Denver Post saw the biggest year-on-year decline in the six months to September 2023. Its average circulation was down 25% year-on-year to 36,730, followed closely by Tampa Bay Times (62,582, down 24%).

September 2023 print figures were not available for New York state title, Buffalo News. Press Gazette used the latest available number from March 2023.

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. Only English language titles were included in this ranking which does not include Spanish-language titles from the US territory of Puerto Rico.

8 March: This story was updated to include a note on the data clarifying that AAM supplies Press Gazette with a list of the 50 biggest AAM-audited local titles in the US, from which we extract the biggest print circulations, and the headline was slightly amended to make it clear that it is the largest title's print circulations ranked, rather than the largest print circulations.

Email pged@pressgazette.co.uk to point out mistakes, provide story tips or send in a letter for publication on our "Letters Page" blog

Select and enter your email address Weekly insight into the big strategic issues affecting the future of the news industry. Essential reading for media leaders every Thursday. Your morning brew of news about the world of news from Press Gazette and elsewhere in the media. Sent at around 10am UK time. Our weekly does of strategic insight about the future of news media aimed at US readers. A fortnightly update from the front-line of news and advertising. Aimed at marketers and those involved in the advertising industry.
  • Business owner/co-owner
  • CEO
  • COO
  • CFO
  • CTO
  • Chairperson
  • Non-Exec Director
  • Other C-Suite
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  • Director or equivalent
  • Group or Senior Manager
  • Head of Department/Function
  • Manager
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Visit our privacy Policy for more information about our services, how New Statesman Media Group may use, process and share your personal data, including information on your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications.
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