Archive for the ‘Research’ Category

Free & paid in Asia & Australia

Monday, January 10th, 2011

In three countries in Asia (Hong Kong, Israel & Singapore) the market share of free newspapers (2009) is above 30%. In three more countries (Korea, Malaysia & Australia) the share is above 10%.

The other six countries with free newspapers have a share of less than 10%. (click for bigger version)


China (2.4 million), Korea (2.3 million) and Hong Kong (1.6 million) have the highest circulation of free newspapers.

Paid & free in the America’s

Tuesday, January 4th, 2011

Five countries on the American continent have market shares of free newspapers of 20% or more, in Chile it is above 30% while in the Dominican Republic almost 50% of the total circulation is free.

The highest circulation of free dailies is in the US (2.4 million) and Canada (1.5 million).

Data are based on 2009 circulation. In 2010 paid circulation dropped somewhat while in Brazil and Canada free circulation increased.


Paid & free in Europe

Monday, January 3rd, 2011

In two countries in Europe – Iceland and Luxembourg – more free than paid newspaper are distributed on weekdays. In Macedonia, Italy and Portugal the share of free newspapers is between 40 and 50%.

In 18 countries in total free dailies have a share of more than 20%. The average share is 27%. Russia is not included in the graph because we don’t know how many paid newspapers are distributed in that country.

Data are from 2009 – as we don’t have complete 2010 data yet. Free newspaper circulation in Europe, however, hardly changed in the last 12 months.


Content analysis on Danish free dailies

Monday, December 6th, 2010

kammerLast year we reported on a Danish research on the content of Danish free and paid newspapers. Based on this research, an article in the Danish journal Journalistica is now available.

“Gratisaviserne som en politisk ressource” (Free Daily Newspapers as a Political Resource) by Aske Kammer compares the political content of three free newspapers (MetroXpress, Nyhedsavisen and Urban) with that of tabloid Ekstra Bladet and quality paper Jyllands Posten.

The last paper contains more political content than the other papers, but the difference between free papers and tabloids was marginal, free daily Nyhedsavisen (closed in 2009) contained more political content than Ekstra Bladet.

Free papers also differed from each other, with Urban having much less politics on the front page for instance.

The article is in Danish, but with “Google translate” most tables ands graphs will make sense to non-Danish readers as well.

Newspaper significance 2: the America’s

Tuesday, November 16th, 2010

Compared to Europe, the ’significance’ of newspapers (the number of copies per 100 inhabitants) is much lower in the America’s. In only two countries, the USA and Canada, the number of copies (paid and free papers) per 100 inhabitants is 20 or higher. In nine countries the number is higher than 10.

Not all data seem to be very reliable, the WAN estimate for paid papers on Cuba is 1.8 million, but anybody who’s ever been on the island can testify (well, I can) that’s actually very hard to get your hands on a copy of the “best-read” paper Granma (which is supposed to have a circulation of 400,00). There are no data for some countries (Peru) while I skipped most of the small island countries.

When it comes to paid papers, the USA leads with 19 copies per 100 inhabitants. Most countries have less than 10 copies. Canada, Chile and the Dominican Republic are the only countries with a free newspaper count of more than 1.

In table format it looks like this:

all papers paid papers free papers
United States 20 19 1
Canada 20 15 5
Cuba 19 19
Bahamas 17 17
Suriname 16 16
Puerto Rico 14 14
Trinidad/Tobago 14 14
Venezuela 11 10 1
Panama 10 10
Costa Rica 8 8
Ecuador 8 7 1
Brazil 7 6 1
Mexico 7 6 1
Dominican Republic 7 4 3
El Salvador 6 6
Guatemala 6 6
Jamaica 6 6
Chile 6 4 2
Guyana 5 5
Uruguay 5 5
Argentina 5 4 1
Colombia 5 4 1
Honduras 4 4
Nicuragua 4 4
Paraguay 3 3
Bolivia 2 2
Haiti 0 0

Newspaper significance, part 1

Wednesday, November 10th, 2010

The newspaper extinction timeline was one of those items that news websites and bloggers pick up and discard very quickly as well. But given the shaky (or non-existing) foundations it was built upon, the less said about it, the better.

But although Dawson wrote about “extinction”, he actually meant that newspapers would become “insignificant”, without – of course – explaining what that meant. My question would be, can you turn that around and ask how “significant” newspapers still are? And how this changes over the years?

You could try to find out how much newspapers contributed to the public and political agenda. You could ask audience members or politicians how much they value different media and newspapers in particular or how much they trust those sources. This research has been done in several countries. Problem is that those countries are mainly Western countries and also that the research is not really suitable to compare countries.

A second option would be to compare newspaper readership over times and between countries. Much more is available here, but there are still many countries without (public) readership data. More problematic is that a substantial part of the research is useless because of inconsistent data. Croatia – with 17 newspaper copies per 100 inhabitants – boasts a total newspaper readership of almost 90%, in Romania and Bosnia every newspaper is read by 8 readers, if we have to believe official data.

The only consistent data we have for almost every country in the world are total circulation and population. If we define newspaper significance as the number of copies per 100 (15+) inhabitants, we can compare countries, see how this changes over years and predict how it will develop.

The graph below (made with Google Docs and the heat-map gadget) show this “significance”, the darker the color, the more significant newspaper are.

In table format, the number of newspapers per 100 inhabitants shows that Luxembourg has the highest number of copies overall, more than 60. In 17 countries the number is 20 or more. When it comes to paid newspapers only, Norway leads with 54 copies, followed by other Nordic countries, Andorra, the UK, Switzerland and Austria (all above 30). Iceland and Luxembourg lead when free dailies are concerned.

all papers paid papers free papers
Luxembourg 62 28 34
Norway 54 54
Andorra 54 38 15
Iceland 54 20 35
Sweden 52 42 9
Finland 49 46 3
Switzerland 47 32 15
Austria 41 32 9
Great Britain 39 34 5
Netherlands 35 26 9
Denmark 35 24 12
Malta 29 29
Germany 28 28
Ireland 26 22 4
Slovenia 23 17 7
Belarus 22 22
Lithuania 20 20
Serbia 19 17 2
Belgium 19 16 3
Czech Republic 19 15 4
France 19 15 5
Macedonia 19 10 9
Hungary 18 14 3
Cyprus 16 16
Croatia 16 14 2
Bulgaria 16 12 4
Latvia 16 11 4
Spain 16 10 6
Italy 16 9 7
Greece 15 12 4
Montenegro 11 11
Poland 11 10 1
Romania 10 7 4
Portugal 10 6 4
Slovakia 9 9
Turkey 8 8
Ukraine 7 7
Estonia 6 6
Bosnia/Herzegowina 5 5
Albania 2 2

This is only part 1; in the coming weeks I will cover other continents and other years to see the trends in significance.

Population and paid copies come from World Press Trends, circulation of free dailies comes from my own database.

The “newspaper extinction timeline” sucks

Tuesday, November 2nd, 2010

Newspaper_Timeline_frontWe had Ted Tuner predicting in 1981 that newspapers would die within 12 years (in 2006 – not in any way hindered by his own mistakes – he said it would happen within 20 years).

We had Philip Meyer predicting that in 2043 no American would read a newspaper every day (although many would read one almost every day).

We had NYT CEO Arthur Sulzberger saying that the New York Times will eventually have to stop printing (without saying when).

And now we have ‘futurist’ Ross Dawson saying that all newspapers (except those in Benin, Madagascar, Paraguay, Belarus, Honduras and some other exotic places) will die within 30 years. The list of ’survivors’ should have made anybody suspicious, but strangely enough the graph was included or referred to on numerous websites and blogs – mostly without too many questions asked.

Dawson even predicted the death of newspapers in Russia, which is extraordinary, as predictions should be based on data – and there are no data on newspaper circulation in Russia, but Dawson even predicted that extinction would be different in rural and metropolitan areas. Amazing!

Countries like Canada, Australia and New Zeeland – known for having a very healthy circulation development or showing only marginal losses – were on Dawson’s death list for 2020, 2022 and 2024.

How did he do that? What were his data? On what were his theories based? No information on that except that “mobile”, “tablets”, “demography”, “technology” etc. could play a role… wow, I wish I would have thought of that.

I did my own ‘extinction’ predictions, but this time with real data and explaining how I did it.

I selected the UK, a country were newspapers will become “insignificant” (no info on what that means on Dawsons website) in 2019.

Anyone with an excel-sheet can make predictions. Its no rocket science.

I took the UK circulation data (paid and free papers – and only paid papers) from 2004 to 2009 and calculated the average changes over those 5 years, but also over 2005-2009, 2006-2009, 2007-2009 and 2008-2009.  This percentage I used to calculate the losses until 2050 (meaning that I used a fixed percentage – you could do that different of course, increasing the percentage).

For all (free and paid) newspapers I came to this (click to enlarge). The average losses over the last years are bigger, so those lines decrease faster. But even with 5% loss every year, circulation will be around 10 millon in 2019 – not very insignificant in my book.


When we only consider paid newspapers, UK circulation with fall from 14 million now to below 10 million copies between 2015 and 2020 (decline percentages between 3 and 6). With a 6% decline every year, paid circulation will be less than 5 million in 2027.


It’s like Disraeli said: “there are lies, big lies, statistics and futurists”.

These graphs, called “UK papers will be around for many years” will hardly be as popular as Dawson’s of course.

First Asian free newspaper ‘discovered’

Sunday, October 10th, 2010

Thanks to a post on Twitter by “Journo-Blogger” Rocky Bru, president of Malaysia’s National Press Club, I was made aware of  free newspaper “The Leader” published in 1993 and perhaps in 1994 in Malaysia.

The English language newspaper, published by Utusan Group for the Klang Valley region, was founded by Frankie d’Cruz and Nadeswaran. Mr.Cruz also served as news editor of The Malay Mail, a paper that went free in 2009. Nadeswaran moved to The Sun, a paper that moved to free distribution in 2002.

The Leader had only a “limited circulation” according to “Democracy in Malaysia: discourses and practices“, a book by Francis Kok-Wah Loh and Boo Teik Khoo, and was closed down later (no date given).

The new discovery expands the list of pre-Metro (Stockholm, February 1995) free dailies to twenty titles (the ones with a * have been closed down already).

  1. 1885 General-Anzeiger für Lübeck und Umgebung* (Germany)
  2. 1906 Manly Daily (Australia)
  3. 1945 Der Panzerbär* (Berlin, one week)
  4. 1947 Contra Costa News* (USA)
  5. 1970 Colorado Daily (USA)
  6. 1974 MetroNews (Sao Paulo, Brazil)
  7. 1978 Aspen Daily News (USA)
  8. 1978 Jackson Hole Daily (USA)
  9. 1981 Vail Daily (USA)
  10. 1983 Eindhovens Dagblad* (Netherlands, 2 weeks)
  11. 1984 Birmingham Daily News* (UK, -1992)
  12. 1988 Aspen Times (USA)
  13. 1989 Steamboat Today (USA)
  14. 1989 Conway Daily Sun (USA)
  15. 1990 Summit Daily News (USA)
  16. 1992 Moscow Times (Russia)
  17. 1992 Mini Diario* (Spain, -2008)
  18. 1993 The Leader* (Malaysia)
  19. 1994 Berlin Daily Sun (USA)
  20. 1995 Palo Alto Daily News (USA)

World Press Trends – attribution part II

Friday, September 3rd, 2010

In yesterday’s post I lashed out at WAN’s World Press Trends for lifting almost complete blog-posts for without proper attribution.

Too soon, apparently…

On pages 247 and 248  I spotted two paragraphs that were taken – almost verbatim – from my blog. I searched for “Bakker” and “newspaperinnovation” and did not find any hits in the document.

By that time I was already so mad that I wrote the blog. What I should have done is going to page 250. Under the Austria text stood:

Source: CIA – The World Factbook; US State Department; VÖZ –Austrian Newspaper Association;
FDN Newsletter; Ars Technica; WAN-IFRA archives

Source: CIA – The World Factbook; US State Department; VÖZ –Austrian Newspaper Association; FDN Newsletter; Ars Technica; WAN-IFRA archives.

Okay, there it was: “FDN Newsletter”. Actually, FDN Newsletter is mentioned 53 times.

I admit I overreacted by calling WAN’s behavior ’stealing’ but I really hesitate in calling it innocent or real attribution. Is copying almost complete blog posts okay when you say “FDN Newsletter” at the very end?

I only checked Austria but I will do the same for other countries…. I already checked the entry for Martinique, also here “FDN Newsletter” is mentioned, although I never wrote anything at all about the country (where is it, anyway?).

I still think that the way of attribution is minimal and doesn’t do justice to what happens, direct quotes should be between quotation marks and sources in those cases should be complete, meaning the issue and probably the page number as well.

World Association of Newspapers steals content

Thursday, September 2nd, 2010

wptcoverChecking the ‘Austria’ entry in the 2010 copy of World Press Trends, I stumbled upon a familiar text on page 247:

Free Austrian newspaper Oberösterreichs Neue, published in the Linz area, closed in May 2009. Declining advertising revenues in the recession pushed the local free daily over the edge, even though the newspaper stated that readership was increasing. Mediahaus Wimmer, the publisher of the newspaper, did not rule out a possible relaunch if the economy improves.

It reminded me strongly of something I posted on May 7, 2010:

Free Austrian paper Oberösterreichs Neue, published in the Linz area, will close down. Declining advertising revenues in the recession are pushing the local free daily over the edge. The paper stated that readership was increasing. When the economy improves a re-launch would be possible according to Mediahaus Wimmer, the publisher of the paper.

I linked to a APA-OTS press release with the news, but as it was in German I wrote my own text, so it was no translation.

I am already used to the fact that the WPT is using data and circulation figures from my blog in their book, in earlier editions they sometimes cited me or as their source. Now they think “WAN from public sources” or “2008 WAN assessment” is sufficient. In this latest edition WAN is stealing more and citing less; nor I nor is even mentioned.

Well, maybe there is a future for newspapers in stealing content, there certainly is one for WAN.

By the way, the picture of the WPT 2010 cover was taken from the website – I just hope they don’t sue me….


page 248 WPT:

In 2009, total free circulation in Austria was around 700,000, with Heute leading the group with more than 500,000 daily copies. Oberösterreichs Neue (Die Neue) had a circulation of 60,000 and TT Kompakt 9,000. Österreich distributed 115,000 copies of its paid newspaper for free. The first all-included survey might be available in 2010.

My blog post from May 14:

Total free circulation in Austria is around 700,000 with ‘heute’ leading in that area with more than 500,000 daily copies. Oberösterreichs Neue (Die Neue) has a circulation of 60,000, TT Kompakt 10,000 while Österreich distributes 115,000 copies for free. The first all-included survey, however, will probably only be available in 2010.

(Interesting is that no-one at WAN actually reads these text, they just copy-paste and change some words. They omitted ‘2009′ in the post, suggesting this is current circulation, on the previous page, however, they stole the story on the closure of Die Neue, one page later, the paper is still published.)