It's time once again to review the last six months' trends in newspaper circulation. No surprises here for followers of this beleaguered industry -- according to data released by the Newspaper Association of America, print circulation fell once again.
The numbers sounded bad last year, and that trend hasn't let up. In the six months ending in September, print newspapers' daily circulation fell by 2.8%, while Sunday editions' circulation dropped 3.4%.
The No. 1 newspaper in terms of circulation is Gannett's
News agencies are reporting that only two newspapers had circulation increases -- The New York Post, owned by News Corp.
At this point in the game, though, further drops in circulation surprise no one. It's clear that the digital realm holds the brightest future, and more and more newspapers seem to be owning up to that inevitability.
Indeed, the Newspaper Association of America also said that Nielsen/NetRatings tracked a 24% increase in visits to newspaper websites in the third quarter, representing 37% of Internet users. That defection to the Internet not only threatens newspapers' base of paying customers, but also explains why advertisers are increasingly attracted to websites.
Some investors, yearning for bargains, might be intrigued by the newspaper industry -- but I'm not one of them. I might prefer a frontrunner like Dow Jones as the industry works through its current turbulence; Dow Jones has many compelling brands, a business and finance focus, and plenty of strong brands in its portfolio. But then again, it's not exactly a cheap stock right now, despite the industry's malaise.
Investors might find long-term bargains in such an out-of-favor industry, but they'd better have iron constitutions. As newspapers continue to evolve to meet the digital era, there will be winners and losers, and a lot of innovating left to do.
For related Foolishness, check out the following articles:
- Tribune on the block.
- Dow Jones' most recent earnings constituted a slow news day.
- New York Times had a soft quarter, too.