What a difference from 2002 when 41% of Americans read a print newspaper--a loss of 18% as the chart to the side shows.
By contrast print books lost only 4% in the past decade and daily book reading actually gained 2%* if you include digital book reading. Combing print and digital newspaper reading only raises the newspaper total to 29% in 2012 (still down 12% from 2002).
Why have newspapers suffered such a dramatic loss when magazines and books have not?
One reason might be that newspapers have lost credibility as a news source. Take, for example, the singular role that Nigel Jaquiss and Willamette Week have as an Oregon major print news breaking source despite competing with giants like the Oregonian (one of the top 25 U.S. newspapers in circulation).
The implosion of the Jefferson Smith mayoral campaign makes the point. It was Jaquiss who broke the story that Rep. Smith was cited in 1993 for assaulting a woman. The Oregonian's coverage had to admit the Jaquiss reporting as the key mover of this story:
Jefferson Smith's mayoral campaign called a news conference Monday afternoon, just hours after Willamette Week reported that Smith, 39, had been cited on an accusation of misdemeanor assault involving a woman in 1993 when he was a 20-year-old sophomore at the University of Oregon in Eugene.One would think with the leg up of having Jaquiss uncover the story that the Oregonian would use its vastly superior numbers in reporters and funding to to be in the lead in following this up.
But, no. Again Nigel Jaquiss was the first to find the woman involved who agreed to release the police report of the incident (a report Eugene police said no longer existed in its records). In a Monday, October 8th, story (posted before 7:30 pm) Jaquiss wrote:
WW obtained the police report Monday from the woman's lawyer, John Bassett, after she spoke to the newspaper.By contrast the Oregonian's story was posted 2-1/2 hours later (October 8th at 10 pm), but did not mention Willamette Week's key role in obtaining the police report.
In two recent posts Max Redline has pointed to the credibility problem of news media and to the Oregonian's credibility problem in particular. Failure to uncover Jefferson Smith's violent past and present lies without the help of reporters like Jaquiss underlines the point.
Jaquiss won a Pulitzer and the Sam Adams/Beau Breedlove affair and cover up). Again, with Jefferson Smith, a small newspaper shows the emperor has no clothes when it comes to blue blood newspapers like the Oregonian. It becomes easier to understand why more people would reach for a book than a newspaper.
*The current Pew Research Center report does note that 29% of Americans read a newspaper if you include digital version, but does not give a similar percentage if digital books are included in the book figure. However, an earlier Pew report indicates that as of December 2011, 84% of those who read a book "yesterday" read a print book. That would pencil out to about a 36% rate for daily book reading combining print, digital and audio.