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Joshua Benton
Consider this my gift to the world: Here are the daily/Sunday circulations of the largest newspapers in the United States — information that is surprisingly difficult to find online! These are all the papers with daily circulation of at least 75,000:
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Joshua Benton Mar 3
Replying to @jbenton
In the old days, the Audit Bureau of Circ would put this list out in a convenient form every year, but they stopped a while back. A few complications: — Alliance for Audited Media (ABC's successor) includes a bunch of free total-market-coverage ad products, I took them out
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Joshua Benton Mar 3
Replying to @jbenton
— For papers owned by rich individuals, I just listed their names (in parentheses) rather than "Nash Holdings LLC" or "NantMedia" (the nom-de-possession of Jeff Bezos and Patrick Soon-Shiong, respectively) — I also cleaned up some placenames for papers technically in the suburbs
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Joshua Benton Mar 3
Replying to @jbenton
— I color-coded the chains that own at least 3 newspapers on this list: Tribune (7), Gannett (5), MNG (5), McClatchy (3), and Advance (3). I didn't color those with 2 (News Corp, Patrick Soon-Shiong, Hearst, Lee) because dude there are only so many colors.
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Joshua Benton Mar 3
Replying to @jbenton
(The fact that these 47 largest papers have, by my count, 25 different owners is evidence of how relatively diffuse newspaper ownership remains — and how much more room for consolidation/rollup there is.)
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Joshua Benton Mar 3
Replying to @jbenton
Alarming to me: There are no local newspapers left with a daily circulation over 500,000. There are only 2 (LAT, NY Post) over 300,000, and only 6 more (ChiTrib, Boston, Mpls, WaPo, Philly, Seattle) over 200,000. (I'm counting WaPo as local since it is local in print.)
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Joshua Benton Mar 3
Replying to @latimes
Here's the same data for the year 2000: the over 1.1 million, 6 local papers over 500,000, and another 10 over 400,000. (Maybe more! That's just where the Top 20 ends.)
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Joshua Benton Mar 3
Replying to @jbenton
And of course, one of those papers, the Rocky Mountain News, is no longer with us.
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Joshua Benton Mar 3
Replying to @jbenton
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Joshua Benton Mar 3
Replying to @jbenton
Couple stray notes: — I called it the New Orleans Times-Picayune even though they can't figure out what to call it — These are, as best as I can tell, print totals. Publishers do some sketchy things in defining "print" and "digital" subscriptions but I think I cleaned em out
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Joshua Benton Mar 3
Replying to @jbenton
Also: There aren't that many big family-controlled papers left! The last decade has seen a lot of rich *individuals* buying newspapers — but the classic family business model? The Sulzbergers, Blethens, Blocks, WEHCO, Belo, Advance, Cox — maybe you count Patrick Dolan or Hearst?
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Joshua Benton Mar 3
Replying to @jbenton
One last thing: Circulation numbers are *infinitely* fudgeable (especially in digital, but also in print), and different papers fudge them in different ways. So you shouldn't treat any of these numbers as ironclad reality. These are the numbers they report, ymmv.
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Joshua Benton Mar 3
Replying to @jbenton
(I've seen newspapers magically "double" their "circulation" by saying every print subscriber paying $10/month is actually paying $9.99 for print and $0.01 for digital and counting each person as two subscriptions.)
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Joshua Benton Mar 3
Replying to @jbenton
One thing, I misspoke a few tweets back: These numbers include digital. But those are small for nearly every local paper here and *very* inconsistently reported. Sometimes not at all (like WaPo).
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Joshua Benton Mar 3
Replying to @jbenton
For instance, these obviously do not include the millions of NYT and WSJ digital subscribers. But they do, for counter instance, include the 100K+ Boston Globe digital subscribers. Basically, this is what they report, I am not going to defend every paper’s math :)
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Joshua Benton Mar 3
Replying to @jbenton
If you want a good cry, here’s that same list from 2004; the numbers are ever so slightly higher
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