Newspapers: A Growth Business?

Newspaper I just stumbled across an news release from last month entitled World Press Trends: Newspapers Are A Growth Business. With a headline like that, you bet I read it!

According to the World Association of Newspapers, newspaper circulations world-wide rose 2.57% in 2007 and 9.39% over the last five years. The source of this data, the association’s annual survey of World Press Trends, was released this June.

This stands in stark contrast to the state of the press in North America, where leading publications like the Toronto Star and the New York Times have resorted to significant layoffs in recent months. As a sign of where the association’s bias lies, the release tries to position that positively too:

“”And even in places where paid-for circulation is declining, notably the United States and some countries in western Europe, newspapers continue to extend their reach through a wide variety of free and niche publications and through their rapidly developing multi-media platforms,” he [Timothy Balding, Chief Executive Officer of the World Association of Newspapers] said.”

Some other interesting nuggets from the lengthy release, which provide a useful reminder that the newspaper industry is much bigger than the US and Canada:

  • Daily newspaper circulations were stable or up in 80% of the countries surveyed in 2007
  • 74 of the world’s 100 best selling dailies are published in Asia
  • The largest markets for paid dailies are China (107 million copies), India (99 million copies) and Japan (68 million copies). US circulation is about 51 million copies – 17 million lower than Japan

The release does acknowledge some of the problems the industry is facing, however:

  • Paid daily circulation in the EU dropped 2.37% in 2007. However, if you factor in the free dailies, circulation rose 2%
  • Most of the US decline came at the expense of evening papers, with a 10.08% drop compared to 2006 and a 25% drop over the last five years.

Of course, the World Association of Newspapers is far from unbiased. Among the association’s activities, it “represents the newspaper industry in all international discussions on media issues, to defend both press freedom and the professional and business interests of the press.”

I take these findings with a sizeable pinch of salt. Still, this remains an interesting reminder that even with the frequent reports of the decline of the traditional media in the western world, it isn’t the case everywhere.

(Image credit: somadjinn)

Dave Fleet
EVP Digital at Edelman. Husband and dad of two. Cycling nut; bookworm; videogamer; Britnadian. Opinions are mine, not my employer's.