Paper prepared for the Future of Journalism Conference, Cardiff, September 2011
Newspapers, particularly in the Western world, have seen paid circulation decline in the last decade. Online news is abundantly available, but at the same time newspapers – in print and online - often serve as sources for other media. Their position is definitely weaker than before, but it would be an exaggeration to write their obituary right now. In this research we track the significance of newspapers in 160 countries worldwide by calculating how many people use daily newspapers and how this changed over the last decade. We compare countries and continents, and distinguish between paid and free newspapers. Results show that newspapers are particularly significant – with more than 50% of the population reading a newspaper on a daily basis - in sixteen countries in Europe (mainly in Nordic and Western Europe) and ten countries in Asia (Japan, Hong Kong, Taiwan, South Korea, Singapore, Macau and some Gulf states). Most African, Asian and South American countries show a very low penetration of newspapers. Free dailies, however, have increased the presence of newspapers in Europe and some Asian and American countries. When shifts over the years are analyzed, the decline of newspapers mainly shows in Europe, Northern America, Australia and New Zealand although newspapers are still very well read in those areas. In Asia newspaper penetration has increased over the last decade. Latin America shows a stable penetration with population growing fast. In Africa there are only two copies of newspapers distributed per 100 inhabitants, a number that has not changed over the last decade.