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Despite the seemingly insurmountable challenges facing today’s newspapers, nearly three-fourths of American adults still admit to reading either a print or online edition, according to (pdf) the latest Integrated Newspaper Audience study from Scarborough Research.

In addition to the 74% of the general population of US adults who read the the newspaper, readership is even higher among more affluent and educated adults:

  • 79% of adults in white-collar jobs read a newspaper in print or online.
  • 82% of adults with household incomes of $100K+ per year read printed or online newspaper content.
  • 84% of college graduates or those with advanced degrees read content from either the print or online version of a newspaper each week.

MediaBuyerPlanner reports that the study also found newspaper readership is still slowly declining but that newspapers are holding onto their audiences reasonably well, given the increasing fragmentation of media choices, according to Gary Meo, Scarborough VP of print and digital media services.The report is noteworthy, Scarborough points out, in the wake of the recent data from the Audit Bureau of Circulations which reported significant declines in weekday and Sunday printed newspaper circulation.

“While Scarborough shows declines in printed newspaper readership, these have not been as severe as those reported in circulation,” said Meo. “This is because circulation and audience do not always march in lockstep as they are two different measurements.”

Circulation refers to the number of newspaper copies sold, while audience refers to the percentage or number of adults who actually read the newspaper, he added.

Good News for Online Newspapers

In more positive news for newspapers in the online space, a separate study from Nielsen Online for the Newspaper Association of America recently showed that, between 2005 and 2009, unique visitors to newspaper websites grew from a monthly average of 41.1 million to an average of 71.8 million. During the same period, print revenues plummeted from $22.2 billion in 2005 to $12.2 billion in the first half of this year, down 45%.

A report issued this week by the Boston Consulting Group also found that US consumers express a willingness to pay modest fees for online news content – from national and local newspapers in particular – especially if the content is unique and/or specialized.

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