Inside the Media
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Below are excerpts from the Newspapers chapter of
Winning with the News Media
2005 Edition (8th)
Copyright © 2005, 2001, 1999, 1996
By Clarence Jones
NewspapersWill the Last One Here
Please Turn Off the Press?
Newspapers as we have known them are dying. The percentage of Americans who buy and/or read a daily newspaper is steadily dropping.
Back in 1970, they sold roughly one newspaper per household every day in America. In 2002, daily newspaper sales equaled only half the households. The number of households in that time period increased by 88 per cent, to 119.3 million. Daily newspaper circulation dropped 11 per cent, to 55.2 million. (See chart below)
Where Do You Get Your News?
The audience for broadcast network television news has also declined in recent years. Those viewers shifted to cable TV channels. The combined network and cable TV news audience has been steadily growing.
And the Internet was mentioned in 2004 as a news source by 29 per cent of those polled. Eight years earlier, only two per cent of those surveyed mentioned the Internet.
Source: Editor & Publisher, U.S. Census Bureau
Sunday Papers Sliding, Too
Sunday newspaper sales peaked in 1993 (62.6 million) and have been sliding since.
One theory for the difference in Sunday and weekday circulation trends is more time to read on Sunday. Readers don't have to go to work. Sunday papers have more advertising, and there's time to shop for bargains in both the classified and display ads.
Audit Bureau of Circulations
How do you know how many people buy a newspaper? The Audit Bureau of Circulations (ABC) in Schaumburg, Illinois, is the international source for certifying how many newspapers and magazines are sold.
The ABC serves the same purpose as broadcast and cable rating services. It tells advertisers how many people they'll reach if they buy space in newspapers or magazines.
ABC is in turmoil as this book goes to press. Both the Chicago Sun Times and Long Island's Newsday admitted in mid-2004 that they had cheated by reporting expanded circulation figures. An investigation was begun.
Sickly Afternoon Papers
Television news is blamed for the decline of afternoon newspapers. The last deadline, if the newspaper is to reach your home before dark, is about 1 p.m. Why pay for news that is four hours old, many subscribers reason, when you can catch the 5 or 6p.m. newscast and be up-to-the-minute?
Most of the videotaped stories on the evening newscast were shot about the same time the newspaper was closing out its pages. But the viewer gets the impression that TV stories are much fresher. Particularly if some of them are done "live."
The anchors are always live. Broadcasters have always traded on their immediacy by frequently sprinkling phrases like "at this hour" and "even as we speak" into their scripts.
Until about 1980, afternoon papers in America had more readers than morning papers. No more. And American cities with separately owned, competing newspapers are now extremely rare. In 1956, there were 94. In 1990, the count was down to 43.
By 2004, only a dozen cities in the entire United States had completely separate, competing newspapers.
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