A Graphic History of Newspaper Circulation Over the Last Two Decades

Every six months, the Audit Bureau of Circulations releases data about newspapers and how many people subscribe to them. And then everyone writes a story about how some newspapers declined some amount over the year previous. Well, that’s no way to look at data! It’s confusing-and it obscures larger trends. So we’ve taken chunks of data for the major newspapers, going back to 1990, and graphed it, so you can see what’s actually happened to newspaper circulation. (We excluded USA Today, because we don’t care about it. If you’re in a hotel? You’re reading it now. That’s nice.)

circulation

Some surprising trends: the New York Post has the same circulation it had two decades ago! Also, the once-captivating battle of the New York City tabloids has become completely moot.

Some unsurprising trends: the Los Angeles Times is an absolute horrorshow. Not shown: the Boston Globe disappearing off the bottom of this chart, in a two decade decline from 521,000 in 1990 to 264,105 this year.



Related: How Are Newspapers Reporting on Newspaper Circulation? An Analysis of the Last 16 Years of New York Times Circulation Reporting.