Newspaper Circulation Plunges

'J. Jonah Jameson from the original 'Spider-Man' animated TV series.

The New York Times reports that circulation at some of the U.S.'s largest newspapers — itself, the Washington Post, the Boston Globe and the Los Angeles Times — has plunged over the last six months. The same in happening in Canada; the Globe and Mail reports that both they and the Toronto Star have experience slight dips in circulation, while the National Post's dropped 10% for weekday circulation and 11% for its Saturday edition.

Some of the blame has been put on the migration of both readers and advertisers to the internet. Mark Evans suggests that newspapers are being squeezed, just as radio and movies were squeezed by television, which is also is competing for your attention span with the 'net. His advice may be unspectacular, but it's right: the market has changed, so newspapers need to change the way they operate and make money to account for these changes.

One such change in the that they may want to address is increased “time pressure” that people face. Greg Sterling at the blog Screenwerk makes the point that while reading the paper version of the Sunday New York Times is an “aesthetic experience”, people are turning to the online version because they can get and absorb the information more quickly.

Luckily for the newspapers, there is a silver lining: while their dead-tree circulations are generally falling, online readership, accordion to both the Times and the Globe and Mail is up. The Newspaper Association of America reports that some papers showed a 20% increase in their web audience in the 25- to 34-year-old demographic, which happens to be the one that's deserting the print version. With the continually improving advertising ecosystem on the net, all major browsers now supporting RSS subscription and the vast majority of web surfers still unaware of the benefits of syndication feeds, there remain opportunities to snag readers and advertisers that newspapers have only begun to tap.