Newspaper circulation plummeted again last year, following the trend of decreased distribution since the early 2000s, according to a new Pew Research Center report released Wednesday.
From an analysis of the Alliance for Audited Media data, Pew discovered that print and digital weekly circulation has plunged by 11 percent, and Sunday circulation dropped by 10 percent from 2016 to 2017.
Michael Barthel, a research associate at Pew Research Center and the author of the study’s fact sheet, said the drop in circulation reflects Americans' changing news habits, as more people get their news online.
“Their circulation declining indicates that if you want to reach Americans, that newspapers are decreasingly a place where people are regularly getting their news,” he said.
Pew also reported that newspapers’ total advertising revenue decreased by 10 percent to $16.5 billion, according to the study.
“Since traditionally advertising revenue has been their primary source of revenue, this would kind of suggest that newspapers have decreasing resources to devote to newsgathering,” Barthel said.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics recorded fewer than 39,500 workers in the newspaper industry in 2017 — a decrease of 15 percent from three years previously.
For the first time since 2014, Pew also found that web traffic did not increase by double-digits in the fourth quarter compared to the previous year. Last year, the top 50 U.S. daily newspapers had 11.5 million unique visitors across all devices, compared to 11.7 million in 2016.
During election years, Americans' intake of news traditionally increases. Since 2017 was not an election year, the online audience numbers could have stabilized as part of the election cycle, Barthel said.
“We’ll need more years of data to know what’s going on there,” he said.
Read the report here.