May 17, 2022

New From Pew Research “State of the News Media” Fact Sheets For Newspapers and Cable News

From the Pew Research Center

Newspapers are a critical part of the American news landscape, but they have been hard hit as more and more Americans consume news digitally. The industry’s financial fortunes and subscriber base have been in decline since the early 2000s, even as website traffic has grown for many, according to new analyses by Pew Research Center on the state of that sector of American news media. Cable TV channels, meanwhile, have generally set themselves apart from other news media by their comparatively robust business model.

Since 2004, Pew Research Center has issued an annual report on key audience and economic indicators for a variety of sectors within the U.S. news media industry.

This year, instead of a single summary report, the Center is producing a series of fact sheets showcasing the most important and trendable data points for each sector in an easy-to digest format. These will be rolled out a few at a time over the coming months. The first batch, released today, includes fact sheets on the newspaper and cable industries.

Among the key findings for newspapers:

The estimated total U.S. daily newspaper circulation (print and digital combined) in 2016 was 35 million for weekday and 38 million for Sunday, both of which fell 8% over the previous year. Declines were highest in print circulation. Weekday print circulation decreased 10%, and Sunday decreased 9%. Digital circulation is more difficult to gauge, but is projected to have been roughly steady, with weekday down 1% and Sunday up 1%.
The total estimated newspaper industry advertising revenue for 2016 was $18 billion, based on the Center’s analysis of financial statements for publicly-traded newspaper companies. This is a decrease of 10% from 2015. Total estimated circulation revenue was $11 billion, roughly on par with 2015.
Average circulation for the top 20 U.S. alt-weekly papers is just over 61,000. This is a 6% decline from 2015.
Digital advertising accounted for 29% of total newspapers advertising revenue in 2016. This is up from a quarter in 2015 and 17% in 2011.
According to data from the U.S. federal government’s American Community Survey, in 2015 (the last year available) 41,400 people worked as reporters or editors in the newspaper industry. This is down 4% from 2014 and 37% from 2004.

Read the Newspaper Fact Sheet

See Also: A blog post examining how reported figures from some large national newsrooms stood apart from the newspaper industry as a whole.

Among the key findings for cable:

Combined prime-time average viewership for the three major cable news channels (CNN, Fox News and MSNBC) increased by 55% to 4.8 million viewers, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of Nielsen Media data. Daytime (6 a.m. to 6 p.m.) average viewership also grew – up 36% over the previous year.
Total revenue across these three channels was projected to increase by 19% in 2016, to a total of nearly $5 billion, according to Pew Research Center analysis of SNL Kagan data. This includes increases in both of the main revenue sources: advertising and subscriber (affiliate) fees. The three major financial networks (CNBC, Fox Business and Bloomberg) saw increases in total and license fee revenue, while ad revenue was flat.
Fox News, MSNBC and CNN were all projected to grow their profits in 2016, registering a combined increase of 29%.
In 2016, the three major cable news channels increased their overall newsroom spending by a combined 9%, to $2.1 billion, according to projections by SNL Kagan. The three major financial networks were projected to increase their newsroom spending by 6%, to $682 million.

Read the Cable Fact Sheet

See Also: “Archive of State of the News Media” Reports (2004-)

About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.