It won't be on the nightly news tonight, or mentioned much in your newspaper tomorrow....but figures released today....by your friendly Audit Bureau of Circulations...show that the average weekday circulation fell 8.7 percent for the prior six months (as ended 31 March).
In case you were wondering...Sunday circulation fell as well (just over six percent).
The nifty thing is that all of the top twenty-five newspapers in America....showed losses...some more than others, of course.
There's an interesting aspect of this decline. Some folks think that we aren't seeing the full and in some cases bright part of the picture.
There is statistically almost 100 million adults who still happen to read a printed newspaper everyday in America. Even newspaper websites are still being hit at a high record.
So you sit there and try to imagine how exactly these guys will survive on...and you can't project out more than a year or two. Let's imagine in a hostile election year....say 2010, which we are in the midst of now...that some major paper decides to use every single bit of juice and dollar left in it...to help sell a message. What happens in January 2011 with that paper? Can it survive? Can they just terminate another fifteen percent of the paper and continue on...with fewer people reading?
I'm not sure about this anymore. Two years ago...I would have said yes. Today....with marginal profit....you'd have to pick what to print and what to dump. Then you start to irk regular readers who wanted the crime blotter, the regional news, and local sports analysis.
So there's a trend. In six months...let's stand and see how the trend continues along this line. You just might be watching a necessity for the government stand in and offer some financial help...to keep your Boston paper up and running...or your Nashville paper up and running, or your St Louis paper even.
A businessman would sooner or later come to a conclusion that he must be printing something that people disagree with...and find a way to change. But then, these aren't businessmen. In fact, it's hard to even describe them as journalists. You go and figure what they are.