‘Net Effect: Shrinking Newsprint

The average weekday U.S. newspaper circulation has taken another hit, falling 2.6 percent in the past six-month period, signaling continued pressure from the Internet, according to an industry group.

The falling numbers marked a 14-year low compared to any other six-month period since 1991, according to an analysis of the data by the Newspaper Association of America (NAA).

Sunday circulation also fell 3.1 percent at newspapers reporting to the Audit Bureau of Circulations, according to the NAA’s analysis.

Although the bureau reported drops in daily circulation at 789 newspapers, as well as declines in Sunday circulation, the NAA has said newspaper Web sites continue to draw in record numbers.

More than 47 million people visited newspaper Web sites in September 2005, the NAA said. That number reflects nearly one-third of all Internet users and is the highest number recorded since the association began tracking online usage in January 2004.

“Not only is the overall audience growing for newspaper Web sites, but NAA studies have shown that they are often the leading local news sites in their markets. It’s clear that newspapers’ longstanding position of trust as part of the communities they serve has only strengthened, not weakened, in the Internet era,” NAA President and CEO John F. Sturm said in a statement.

“Newspapers are continuing to attract readers, whether they’re reading the traditional printed newspaper, a newspaper Web site, a free daily paper or another newspaper niche product,” Sturm stated.

Newspapers have continued to look online to offset competition from alternative news sources, primarily on the Internet. In the past year, several big-name organizations have made moves to solidify their online presences.

In March, newspaper publishing powerhouses Gannett, Knight Ridder and Tribune Company jointly acquired a 75 percent interest in Topix.net, an online news aggregator that launched a little more than a year ago.

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