You Will Never Read a Newspaper Again

Here are the nation’s 10 largest newspapers based on circulation and their websites. Every newspaper has seen circulation decline over the past few years. Newspapers face a special challenge in transitioning from print to the web. While it seems clear that increasing traffic alone won’t solve the business problems of newspapers, it’s all they’ve got right now.

newspaper circulation

Circulation at newspapers shrank at an accelerated rate over the past six months. Some newspapers are planning to charge for access to at least some sections of their websites. What do their online numbers represent as a future for news content. Here are the top 10 newspaper sites according to Google Adplanner.

newspaper online rankings

As you can see circulation of the actual Newspapers and their online properties, unique users and subscribers do not coincide. Newspaper web properties present a paradigm shift and create a normalization of the geographic treatment of information.

Publication Name Largest Weekday Circulation Placement Country UV (users)
1. The Wall Street Journal 2,024,269 nytimes.com 19M
2. USA Today 1,900,116 washingtonpost.com 8.3M
3. New York Times 927,851 wsj.com 8.3M
4. Los Angeles Times 657,467 latimes.com 7.5M
5. The Washington Post 582,844 usatoday.com 7.4M
6. New York Daily News 544,167 nydailynews.com 5.6M
7. New York Post 508,042 nypost.com 3.5M
8. Chicago Tribune 465,892 chicagotribune.com 2.9M
9. Houston Chronicle 384,419 chron.com 1.6M
10. Philadelphia Inquirer/Daily News 361,480 philly.com 1.6M
Publication Name Parent Company City Frequency Largest Weekday Circulation Placement Country UV (users) Reach Country PV
1. The Wall Street Journal Dow Jones & Co. Inc. New York, NY (M-F) 2,024,269 nytimes.com 19M 8.50% 970M
2. USA Today Gannett Company Inc. Washington, DC (M-F) 1,900,116 washingtonpost.com 8.3M 3.70% 280M
3. New York Times New York Times Company New York, NY Sun 927,851 wsj.com 8.3M 3.60% 230M
4. Los Angeles Times Tribune Publishing Company Los Angeles, CA Sun 657,467 latimes.com 7.5M 3.30% 110M
5. The Washington Post Washington Post Co. Washington, DC Sun 582,844 usatoday.com 7.4M 3.30% 190M
6. New York Daily News New York Daily News New York, NY Sun 544,167 nydailynews.com 5.6M 2.50% 88M
7. New York Post News Corp. New York, NY Sun 508,042 nypost.com 3.5M 1.50% 72M
8. Chicago Tribune Tribune Corp. Chicago, IL Sun 465,892 chicagotribune.com 2.9M 1.30% 66M
9. Houston Chronicle Hearst Newspapers Houston, TX Sun 384,419 chron.com 1.6M 0.70% 50M
10. Philadelphia Inquirer/Daily News Philadelphia Media Holdings Philadelphia, PA Sun 361,480 philly.com 1.6M 0.70% 42M

My top 4 picks for online papers based on design, usability, content are
1) The New York Times, I like the multi column approach and top bar navigation.
nyt front page

2) Washington Post is very timely in their information and ability to interact with their editors

washingtonpost front page

3) Wall Street Journal has  unparalleled business content and market analysis making it a must have for biz people

wsj front page

4) USA Today in print is the lowest common denominator for news in print but they make up for it online

usa today front page

Comparing the top circulated newspapers  using IBM’s data visualization service Many Eyes. (amazing tool when you are comparing data sets.) Through the Many Eyes site, you can choose to look at any newspapers relative growth. This analysis was done by The Nieman Journalism Lab a collaborative attempt to figure out how quality journalism can survive and thrive in the Internet age.

newspaper trends

And lastly search volume based on Google Trends for the top Online newspapers and search volume.

newspaper search trends

Based on website traffic , the New York Times really is the paper of record. I miss my Sunday mornings and coffee, leisurely thumbing through Safir’s witty repartee and snappy retorts.  No other daily newspaper that employs actual journalists to write real news stories comes close to the Times online.

A business model based on expensive editorial  but makes revenue from advertisers who only indirectly use or pay for that quality is a business model that cannot work.  The current decline in online newspaper and magazine advertising isn’t about the bad economy. The reality is online advertising is just too measurable for newspaper websites to rely on ad revenue alone.

Has the genie been let of the bottle for free vs paid content? Murdoch would like to change the way content is viewed. Free content sends the message to the reader there is not intrinsic value. Their are plenty of news portals, freely exchangeable or replaceable, in whole or in part, for any other news site of like nature or kind.

The New York Times newspaper website currently has 20 million unique visitors a month. It is a great editorial product and has done an amazing job building an audience. How and when does the Times change it’s online business model is the question.

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