Who Said Print Was Dead? New NNN Study Shows Rise in Readership

By: Jennifer Saba

More people are reading newspapers in the top 100 markets, according to Spring 2008 Media Mark Research & Intelligence (MRI) data on behalf of the Newspaper National Network (NNN). The spring survey showed a reader uptick of 2.5% to 80.6 million from 78.7 million compared to the same period in the prior year.

Newspaper circulation for the six months ending March 2008 fell 3.5% for daily and 4.5% on Sunday, according to the Audit Bureau of Circulations. Major metro experienced some of the biggest drop-offs.

However, the NNN points to a few factors for the gain: Newspaper Web sites may be drawing people to the print edition. Publishers are cutting circulation like third-party copies — which went to infrequent readers — and instead are focusing on “core” subscribers. The NNN also believes that secondary readership is up, and that freebies like am New York and Metro are making inroads.

“In a challenging environment for newspaper publishers, the MRI results are welcome news,” Jason Klein, president and CEO of NNN, said in a statement. “Readership growth is good news for advertisers since it means more ad exposures.”

The NNN said that the fall 2007 numbers were also up 1.8%. Along with the spring data, these are the first increases the measure has shown since it was created in the fall 2003.

However, newspaper readership still has a way to go before it catches up with the fall 2003 data. In that period, 85.3 million people read a newspaper.

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