by Max Brantley
Noted: Article in Arkansas Democrat-Gazette today is headlined that the D-G gained subscribers last year in the six months ending March 31 while newspapers nationally were losing readers.
On the jump, you got the rest of the story. The D-G gain (weekdays only -- there was a drop in Sunday circulation) was due to 15,000 subscribers added by subsuming -- essentially acquiring -- the former Stephens Media newspapers in Northwest Arkansas. The newspaper suffered losses in its core readership roughly equivalent to the national loss.
The D-G loss is an even more sobering message, really, than the national numbers. Why? Because the Democrat-Gazette is generally: 1) bigger than comparable daily newspapers (more information); 2) has a larger staff; 3) has held circulation prices down; 4) endeavors to home deliver the paper in even remote and lightly populated places; 5) "protects" its print franchise by charging for a great deal of Internet content; 6) is the state's largest single supplier of local news, a web niche not as developed as, say, international, political and national sports news. With all this going for it, the newspaper couldn't buck larger societal shifts in newspaper reading habits. The question remains: What's going to happen to newspapers?