Report

Newspapers Face a Challenging Calculus

  • February 26, 2009

The trend is unmistakable: Fewer Americans are reading print newspapers as more turn to the internet for their news. And while the percentage of people who read newspapers online is growing rapidly, especially among younger generations, that growth has not offset the decline in print readership.

In the Pew Research Center's 2008 news media consumption survey, 39% said they read a newspaper yesterday -- either print or online -- down from 43% in 2006. The proportion reporting that they read just the print version of a newspaper fell by roughly a quarter, from 34% to 25% over the two-year period.

Overall newspaper readership declined in spite of an increase in the number of people reading online newspapers: 14% of Americans said they read a newspaper online yesterday, up from 9% in 2006. This includes those who said they read only a newspaper online (9% in 2008), as well as those who said they read both print and Web versions of a newspaper (5%). These numbers may not include the number of people who read content produced by newspapers, but accessed through aggregation sites or portals such as Google or Yahoo.

The balance between online and print readership changed substantially between 2006 and 2008. In 2008, online readers comprised more than a third of all newspaper readers; two years earlier, fewer than a quarter of newspaper readers viewed them on the Web. This is being driven by a substantial shift in how younger generations read newspapers.

Read the full analysis Newspapers Face a Challenging Calculus on the Pew Research Center's Web site.