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Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Which Major Daily Newspaper Will Lose the Most Readers in 2006?

Judging by the results of the non-scientific survey that has been running in the right-hand column of this blog for several weeks, it looks like The New York Times will be the big circulation loser for 2006 with 46 percent of the respondents checking the Gotham paper's box.

Second is The Los Angeles Times at 22 percent , while running third is The Philadelphia Inquirer at 11 percent. Biggest surprise is the low number of survey takers giving the nod to The San Francisco Chronicle, which lost an amazing 16 percent of its subscribers last year.

My personal pick is the Knight-Ridder Newspapers-owned Inquirer, which, along with the Philadelphia Daily News, has suffered staggering circulation, advertising and editorial staff losses for several years. The weakness of these two dailies is a major reason why Knight-Ridder is viewed by many industry observers as a prime takeover target.

For those who might wonder why this question is even a topic of discussion (and believe me, it is among the most intensely whispered-about topics at professional journalism gatherings these days), check out Hugh Hewitt's update of his Weekly Standard piece, "The Media's Ancien Regime."

Says Hewitt:

"Example for today: Why would anyone bother with The Washington Post's or The New York Times' accounts of yesterday's Candian elections? Ed Morrissey reported the results in real time, with pointers to all the Candian blogs anyone could need as well as an assessment of the likely government to result.

"The realities of information availability coupled with the nearly instant arrival of the appropriate experts to sort through that info is forcing old media to change everything it does. "

Add rising public dissatisfaction with the obvious liberal bias of the major media and the declining credibility of mainstream journalism as a result and you have a good inventory of the reasons why asking which daily will be the biggest loser of 2006 is precisely the right question.

Go here for the rest of Hewitt's observations and some interesting links to those of others.