The statistic above presents circulation data of daily newspapers in the United States from 1985 to 2011. Circulation numbers peaked in 1987 when they amounted to over 62.82 million.
Paid circulation of US daily newspapers
Since the beginning of the 21st century, the newspaper industry has felt vast repercussions from the transition to the digital information and technology economy. While the number of subscribers and overall circulation has always been important for newspaper publishers, for much of their history they have been supported primarily through their advertising revenues and despite increasing advertising trends overall, they have largely been unable to capitalize on the continued ad spend growth. This is due partially to the increasing investments in the digitization of their products and brands, as well as the fact that overall, advertising spending has tended to shy away from heavy investments in print advertising. Newspapers have, since the dawn of the television era, always taken a rather miniscule slice of the advertising pie. This lack of advertising dollars for papers has been augmented by American citizens’ reticence towards paying for news information when it is possible to access media from so many free sources.
The two U.S. newspapers with highest digital and print penetration are the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal. While both still possess print editions, they have successfully developed an online presence with customer circulation upwards of 750,000 per digital edition of their respective newspapers. The New York Times posted revenue growth for the first time since 2006 during the fiscal year 2012, which may indicate that digital circulation is at least beginning to replace the lost print circulation. The Wall Street Journal, on the other hand, benefits from being one of many media properties owned by News Corporation, allowing the newspapers’ financial books to remain somewhat outside of the spotlight.