Advertising traditionally made up 85% of newspaper revenues, most of it in print. Print advertising fell 71% between 2000 and 2012 as advertisers migrated to a digital ecosystem controlled by Google through its dominance of online ad sales, brokerage and placement. Google attracts viewers to its own website by displaying headlines and sections of news articles produced by news organizations, but those viewers don’t tend to click through to the news organizations’ own websites. As a result, Google earns the ad revenue attracted by publication of news, without contributing to the salaries of the professional journalists who gather and report the news.
Expenses for paper and delivery have risen dramatically, as much as 25%. In 2017, the Trump Administration imposed tariffs of newsprint from Canada, which is the sole source of newsprint used in the eastern half of the US. Although the tariff was overturned, prices remained elevated. Nearly all of the few remaining newsprint mills have switched to manufacturing packaging materials.
As a result, newspapers are struggling to survive. “News deserts,” areas in which there is little to no local newspaper coverage, have expanded throughout the country. This unsettling phenomenon has been documented in research by the University of North Carolina.
Data regarding local news in New York State is detailed in New York – The Expanding News Desert (usnewsdeserts.com). New York has one county without any newspaper (Orleans County) and 13 counties with only one newspaper. Although only three daily newspapers in New York State have closed since 2004, a significant number of weekly newspapers have shut down. A number of both daily and weekly newspapers have merged. As a result, between 2004 and 2019, the total number of daily newspapers declined from 62 to 54, and the number of weekly newspapers declined from 439 to 249.