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Newspapers in Canada - statistics & facts

As is the case in many markets across the globe, printed newspapers in Canada are slowly losing ground. Printed newspaper circulation revenue still accounts for most of the total but is dropping, with revenue of printed daily newspapers as well as specialized papers affected. At the same time, digital revenue is steadily climbing. Both print and digital newspapers, though, have long faced competition from other news outlets offering faster, cheaper, or more current information. So how and where are Canadians reading newspapers?

Newspapers and the Canadian consumer

Canadians vary in their preferences for print versus digital newspapers and are also open to combining both formats. Data from a report looking at weekly newspaper readership in 21 major markets across Canada showed that around a third of consumers read printed papers only. Meanwhile, the same share of respondents to the survey reported reading newspapers exclusively on a computer or mobile device, and the remaining 36 percent opted to read a combination of print and digital formats.

Consumer willingness to continue to read newspapers, regardless of format, is encouraging for the market. At the same time, however, TV and radio news are overall the more popular offline news sources among English-speaking Canadians. Only 10 percent of respondents to a survey reported using local daily papers for news they read offline, half the share who relied predominantly on local radio news. Community newspapers were the go-to offline news source for just 11 percent of survey participants.

Community newspapers

Figures on newspaper circulation by type highlight the disparity between paid circulation of daily versus community papers, with dailies accounting for almost all the paid newspapers in circulation in Canada. By contrast, community newspapers are generally free.

Weekly community newspaper reach in Canada as a whole is around 30 percent among Gen Z and 60 percent for Boomers and pre-Boomers, and readership is higher in markets with a population of under 100 thousand, suggesting that the smaller the community, the greater the need for community papers. However, total community newspaper circulation has fallen in general in the last few years, and paid circulation halved between 2013 and 2021 .

The gradual decline of community newspapers impacts all markets and audiences across the country, and larger publications have also struggled. Even well-known and longstanding paper Globe and Mail has long ceased publishing its print edition in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Prince Edward Island, and competitor Torstar was later acquired by a private investment firm. Despite the efforts of start-ups across the country to improve access to local news, print papers will continue to face challenges, and it will be some time before digital publications generate sufficient revenue to outweigh the losses suffered by physical publications.

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