Top US papers drop 20 per cent in four years

It’s as bad as feared, maybe worse. Circulation of most American newspapers is dropping, in some cases plunging.

The official end of the year figures show that in the past four years the top newspapers in the US have collectively lost about l.4 million, or about 10 per cent, of their sales. An analysis of the ABC figures shows that some have bled much more.

The Los Angeles Times, for example, over the four years has lost 20 per cent of its circulation – more than 200,000 copies. The neighbouring San Francisco Chronicle – hardest hit of all – lost almost 30 per cent – down almost 150,000 copies.

In fact most of the major newspapers in the US, and that includes The Boston Globe and the Atlanta Constitution, dropped roughly 20 per cent. The NY Times was down what Editor and Publisher described as a “palatable seven per cent”. The Wall Street Journal, now owned by Rupert Murdoch, fell a modest 4 per cent.

There were a handful of papers that put on circulation – but only in the single digits. USA Today increased its circulation 2 per cent, the NY Post grew 2.3 per cent. The Post’s big rival, the NY Daily News, dropped more than 8 per cent – and for the first time fell behind The Post in total sales.

One reason for the decline is that many newspapers, including the LA Times, the San Francisco Chronicle and the Boston Globe, have stopped giving complimentary copies to hotel and schools – and also in some cases to their own staff.

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