The burn

Last week we described the newspaper business as a satellite falling out of orbit. This week it appears to be burning up in the atmosphere.

The latest Audit Bureau of Circulations report showed a 3.5 percent drop in circulation – to about 50 million — for the largest U.S. newspapers over the six-month period ending in March. That level is the lowest in more than 60 years. The population has more than doubled since that time, so the market share for the “mass” medium known as newspapers in the U.S. is now about 18 percent or less.

The news on the advertising front is worse. The downward trajectory of revenues and ad share for newspapers is so steep that Advertising Week, the bible of the advertising industry, initiated a front-page installment called “The Newspaper Death Watch.”

While some news enterprises are finally embracing digital media, albeit somewhat reluctantly, that window of opportunity seems to be slipping away, too. Revenues from online products are about 10 percent or less of the declining print pot. And for the first time, pure-plays dominate the local ad-revenue marketplace where newspapers once reigned.

None of this seems to phase the industry trade-group Newspaper Association of America, which has cranked out press releases about the “jump” in online newspaper advertising and audience, or the World Association of Newspapers which trumpets newspapers as “a multi-media growth business” in a promotion for its World Newspaper Congress in Sweden next month.

See Also: A Satellite Falling Out of Orbit

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