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The Media

Decline In US Newspaper Readership Accelerates 420

Hugh Pickens writes "The Washington Post reports that US newspaper circulation has hit its lowest level in seven decades, as papers across the country lost 10.6 percent of their paying readers from April through September, compared with a year earlier. Online, newspapers are still a success — but only in readership, not in profit. Ads on newspaper Internet sites sell for pennies on the dollar compared with ads in their ink-on-paper cousins. 'Newspapers have ceased to be a mass medium by any stretch of the imagination,' says Alan D. Mutter, a former journalist and cable television executive who now consults and writes a blog called Reflections of a Newsosaur. According to Mutter only 13 percent of Americans, or about 39 million, now buy a daily newspaper, down from 31 percent in 1940. 'Publishers who think their businesses are going to live or die according to the number of bellybuttons they can deliver probably will see their businesses die,' writes Mutter. 'The smart ones will get busy on Plan B, assuming there is a Plan B and it's not already too late.' Almost without exception, the papers that lost the least readers or even gained readership are the nation's smallest daily newspapers which tend to focus almost all of their limited resources on highly local news that is not covered by larger outside organizations and have a lock on local ad markets."

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