U.S. newspaper circulation has hit its lowest level in seven decades, as papers across the country lost 10.6 percent of their paying readers from April through September, compared with a year earlier.
The newest numbers on newspaper circulation, released Monday by the Audit Bureau of Circulations, paint a dismal picture for an industry already feeling the pressures of an advertising slump coupled with the worst business downturn since the Great Depression.
The ABC data estimate that 30.4 million Americans now pay to buy a newspaper Monday through Saturday, on average, and about 40 million do so on Sunday. These figures come from 379 of the nation's largest newspapers. In 1940, 41.1 million Americans bought a daily newspaper, according to the Newspaper Association of America.
In September, for instance, Nielsen reported that the New York Times was the Internet's most popular newspaper site, with an average of 21.5 million unique visitors per month, up 7 percent compared with a year earlier. Yet last week, the Times Co. reported a 27 percent drop in ad revenue for the quarter. At The Washington Post, which has lost $143 million through the first six months of 2009, the number of monthly unique online users was down 29 percent, to 9.2 million, compared with September of last year, just before the presidential election.