In this article we are going to list the 10 biggest newspapers in the US. Click to skip ahead and jump to the 5 biggest newspapers in the US. The new generation may not realize it but newspapers have always been an extremely important part of culture and of course, the provision of news. See any old timey film or even read a book, and you will more likely than not see the patriarchal figure with a newspaper open at the breakfast table, gaining information about both local and international areas.
Nowadays, all the information you may need, and then some, is just a click away. 24 hours dedicated news channels as well as of course, the internet, means that anything you want to learn about the world, no matter which corner, you will know about immediately. In fact, many people think that we are now in an era where there is an overload of information and that may even be fueling depression as people learn too much about violence and crime, since if you’ve noticed, most news is centered on negative reporting rather than positive developments.
This was not the case years, decades and centuries ago. Newspapers have been around for centuries in the world, starting in Europe when London lifted censorship which ushered in the era of the newspaper in the late 1600s, and early 1700s, also surging in popularity in the United States, especially in cultural hubs Boston and Philadelphia. Later on, when the high speed press was established in the 1830s, newspapers could be churned out by the thousands and became major businesses even as the Industrial Revolution kicked off, leading to every working man wanting to learn more about the news as well as the finance section, which gained popularity too. Since the cost of newspapers was extremely low after the advent of the high speed press, most households could afford papers.
Another important thing to note is that in the early 1800s, literacy rates started to rise sharply in both the US and Britain, which led to a corresponding increase in demand for newspapers, which the newspapers were only too happy to fulfil. By 1854, after the reduction of tax on newspapers, in England alone, the circulation increased from 39 million to 122 million! Newspapers were on the rise before the first World War entered the fray, and ended the initial golden era for newspapers. Since most journalists were of age and were drafted in the military, with precious few replacements for them and women not even considered as replacements. Due to rationing and the increasing costs associated with being in a world war, paper and ink were not in plentiful supply and inflation also increased the price of a newspaper. Further, in an attempt to administer censorship, most countries severely restricted the content which could be displayed in a newspaper, drastically shortening their length and ensuring that a lot of areas were actually left blank.
Of course, the unfortunate fact of the matter is that all things which experience a high must go through a low. While newspapers have existed for centuries and I have little doubts they are going to go away any time soon, like I mentioned earlier, precedence is now given to other media such as the internet or television. Most newspapers have gone digital in addition to print in an attempt to stay relevant and circulation has started to decrease. Furthermore, and this is a personal opinion, I believe that life has gotten so stressful that the idyllic picture of a family having breakfast at the table early morning while the patriarch reads the newspaper slowly and from end to end is just a mirage which has little place in a world where everything is done in a rush.
In the United States alone, newspapers, which used to be incredibly popular, saw falling readership and many newspapers have actually gone under, even those which had decades or even over a century of experience, as readership declined and the internet dethroned print. In the United States, the first statistics of annual newspaper circulation were established in 1940. In 2018, circulation was at its lowest level since 1940, which is a sobering fact indeed. The estimation of daily newspaper circulation was 28.6 million for a weekday and 30.8 million for a weekend, both significant drops of 8% and 9% respectively when compared to the previous year. And when circulation takes a hit, so does everything else. This is why in just the decade between 2008 and 2018, revenues have significantly declined. Newspaper revenues come from two major sources; ad revenue and the subscription that people pay. Ad revenue declined by 62%, from $37.8 billion in 2008 to just $14.3 billion in 2018, which of course also negatively affected employment. Employment has, in the same time, fallen by almost half as well as 71,000 workers fell down to just 38,000.
And these layoffs are far from over. Newsrooms across the country have been devastated and more than a fourth of all newspapers in the US which have an average Sunday circulation of at least 50,000 saw layoffs in 2018, on top of the layoffs in 2017 and this trend is only set to continue. The reason things have gotten so bad is because even people who prefer to read newspapers are ignorant of the situation being faced by newsrooms. The vast majority of people in the country believe that their local newsrooms are doing fine financially even though just a quick Google will dispel this myth and most people haven’t even paid for a subscription or donated or contributed monetarily to any newsroom within the past year. Truly, it is no surprise that newspapers are in the state that they are in.
Things have of course obviously not been looking rosy for newspapers in general over the past few years, and then the Covid-19 pandemic hit, which has caused more than 90.3 million cases and more than 1.9 million deaths, which are sobering numbers indeed. As countries have imposed harsh restrictions to combat the spread of the disease, the effect on the economy has been devastating and the newspapers industry and the media industry in general, has not been able to quell anything. You can learn more about the impact of the pandemic on the media industry if you head on over to the 15 biggest media companies in the world. Even when the pandemic was in its infancy at a global level in March, the pandemic had already started resulting in the capitulation of newspapers as advertising revenues drastically declined because companies had to focus on cutting their own costs as well.
This has resulted in many newspapers folding and journalists being laid off, even at a time when we are being provided with 24/7 coverage of the worst pandemic in a century. On other occasions, newspapers which have paywalls lowered them to allow people to access proper information while journalists have also been working around the clock to combat misinformation, which has become an industry on its own ever since the pandemic struck. And this isn’t just true for the US, but for other countries including Canada, where several permanent layoffs and closure of newspapers were attributed to the pandemic. In the United Kingdom, Oliver Dowden, the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport stated that the pandemic had resulted in the biggest existential crisis to ever hit the press industry, and many employees were either furloughed or had wages significantly reduced.
While many newspapers have folded during this historic time, the biggest newspapers in the US are more than likely to survive. Of course, even these newspapers have not been immune from the pressures that the newspaper industry is facing, as the biggest newspapers have lost at least 30% in combined circulation only in the past 4 years. Even then, these newspapers are owned by major companies, and hence, are likely to survive at least in the short run, though we’ll learn more about it in the coming years. The biggest newspapers in the United States focus on different areas including general news as well as finance, which has become more and more important in these years and especially in the country which is the leader in capitalism. So now, let’s take a look at the newspapers, which more than likely are lying on the kitchen table at your home. The numbers are based on 2019 average weekday paid circulation for newspapers which make public their circulation numbers, as more and more newspapers have refused to show their numbers as time goes by. The information is taken from Cision Media Research. We’ll start off with number 10:
10. The Boston Globe
Average weekday paid circulation in 2019: 230,756
The Boston Globe is popular not just in the US but internationally, which was founded 148 years ago in 1872, and has won 26 Pulitzer Prizes.