Is the tide really ebbing away from the newspaper industry?

I'm a curious animal when it comes to newspapers. Having worked in my time for both national and regional titles, I never really got into the habit of buying a daily paper. And, when I later worked at advertising agencies, there were always plenty knocking around if I wanted to have a quick flick through their pages. As such, I am in no way a typical customer to the newspaper industry.

That said, I still enjoy a browse on a Sunday or of an evening. And, it would seem, plenty of people here in the UK still seem to, despite the unrelenting march of the web, regularly buy a daily newspaper. The latest ABC figures for the qualities (copies sold + year on year percentage loss in circulation).....

The Daily Telegraph: 744,151,-5.65
Financial Times: 401,072, -9.20
The Guardian: 305,240, -14.83
The Independent: 186,557, -7.24
The Scotsman: 46,300, -7.78
The Times: 563,262, -9.42

Independent on Sunday: 156,517, -5.75
The Observer: 372,669, -16.06
Scotland on Sunday: 58,595, -6.10
Sunday Herald: 43,173, -0.79
The Sunday Telegraph: 577,201, -4.00
The Sunday Times: 1,171,457, -4.26

(the larger circulation falls at The Guardian and The Observer is mainly due to their decision in August to stop distributing 'bulks' - copies readers can pick up free from hotels, airlines and gyms)

....suggest that we have a long way to go before the masses choose to read their news off a screen in preference to having a newspaper in their hands.

And, if you look at the popular/mid-market dailies, it is clear that their readership isn't really going anywhere else fast. The Mirror took a hit because of its cover price, but look at The Star! It's UP 15%!

Daily Mirror: 1,260,019, -10.01
Daily Record:323,051, -10.72
Daily Star: 823,476, 15.30
The Sun: 2,958,502, -2.87
Daily Express: 685,195, -8.91
Daily Mail: 2,148,571, -0.70

Daily Star Sunday: 354,386, 2.15
News of the World: 2,923,355, -7.30
Sunday Mail: 392,174, -13.24
Sunday Mirror: 1,148,244, -8.52
The People: 533,782, -10.41
Sunday Express: 594,517, -11.33
The Mail on Sunday: 2,071,526, -4.16

Yes, the technically-savvy will tell you that the days of the newspaper are numbered, but the figures above suggest otherwise. There are still an awful lot of people who buy a daily newspaper. And, interestingly, The London Evening Standard, in its first month as a freebie, distributed just under 600,000 copies a day.

No one can deny that they have been hit hard by loss of advertising revenue, and at local and regional level I expect there to be many casualties sooner rather than later, not least as, to add to their woes, during a recession it's generally the little extras like the local weekly and the regional daily that people knock on the head. But, if you consider that we are indeed in the midst of a recession, an average year on year loss of circulation of just over 9% which includes the unusually large Guardian drop for the reason mentioned above, is not actually that bad. In short I think you can safely say that is going to be a wee while yet before we are all putting the last ever copy of The Times or Telegraph in cotton wool and shoving it up in our loft for posterity.

In short, where the papers are concerned, old habits die hard. There really is nothing like the feel of a newspaper in your hands, despite them being full of reality tv and airhead celebrities. As long as there are commuters there will be newspapers (unless buses and trains get chair back internet installed). Go to the toilet with a laptop? Lounge around on a Sunday with a blackberry? Not me, how about you?

PS - One last figure for you. Add the circulations of all English dailies and times by 2.5 for actual readership (and that's a conservative estimate) and you get over 26 million people a day reading a paper. That's an awful lot of the UK adult population you know.

Views: 88

Comment by David Manaster on December 16, 2009 at 11:01am
I don't get it. Double digit declines in an industry that has been stable and mature for decades tells you that the industry is here to stay?
Comment by Alasdair Murray on December 16, 2009 at 11:16am
Hi David, no it tells me that the decline in sales of newspapers here in the UK is a lot more gradual than many online gurus predicted. As many as 26 million people here read a national paper every day, which in USA terms may sound small, but our total population is only 61.4m. That means a fair proportion of adults still read a national daily paper. Ad revenues have suffered of course eith the migration by advertisers to online, particularly where recruitment and other classified disciplines, once the backbone of a paper's income, are concerned, but the thing is that the actual readers aren't following or deserting the press in their droves as some anticipated. The newspaper industry is in decline, but it is a very slow one when you look at the overall picture. No idea what it is like in the USA though.


You need to be a member of RecruitingBlogs to add comments!

Join RecruitingBlogs


All the recruiting news you see here, delivered straight to your inbox.

Just enter your e-mail address below


RecruitingBlogs on Twitter

© 2024   All Rights Reserved   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Privacy Policy  |  Terms of Service