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TRENDS IN CIRCULATION OF NATIONAL NEWSPAPERS IN ANY ONE COUNTRY

Introduction

For a full report into the trends of newspaper circulation in a country, it is important to consider the following factors: what is the historical background of trends in that country? What lead newspapers to the position they are in today and what is that position? What are the possibilities going forward and how can newspapers take that next step? This report must consider the above with reference to newspapers trends in circulation in the UK. The limitations of such a report are created by difficulties inherent in relying upon statistics - raw circulation numbers provide the meat of such analysis and those numbers must be gleaned from a source, be it the Joint Industry Committee for Regional Press Research (JICREG,) The Newspaper Society or ABC, used in this report as it is the most comprehensive. Whilst ABC is highly regarded within the media arena and audits over 3400 titles it is very difficult to cross-reference their figures and thus an element of trust is introduced. In addition, the topic is extremely broad and requires circulation figures from the earliest days of newspapers when such data was not collected, thus the focus of this report must primarily be upon modern day trends in circulation.

Modern developments concur with such a view. Any citizen can now make a freedom of information request and journalist Heather Brook has published a book and online site both entitled 'Your right to know,' detailing the measures available to an enquiring public. New technologies enable UGC to set the news (and indeed political) agenda like never before. Labour has installed a Minister for Information and Twitter pushes stories around the world before CNN's helicopters can locate the aeroplane. In Theories of the information Society Webster acknowledges, 'Information has come to be perceived as a, arguably the, defining feature of out times.' (Webster, F. 2002, p.263.) In such an environment, where and how do newspapers survive?  The answer has perhaps already come from newspapers themselves. Branching out into online sites, papers are moving into arenas formerly occupied by broadcast media, i.e. that of audio and visual news. Pundits visiting today's Guardian online can choose from not only news, features, opinion, travel and education articles, to name but a few, but also view the audio slideshow 'art of makeup,' watch a piece on PC Bill Barker the missing Cumbrian policeman, upload a CV, search for a romantic partner, comment, blog, subscribe and recommend. To combat the recent downturn in sales, newspapers are creating online interactive communities dealing not only in news but life.

Perhaps, like the commentator on communication Anthony Smith has argued, the new trends in the way we share, access and even create the news, all instigated by new technology will gradually change the way we interact not only with information but with each other, and surely that process has already begun to materialise.

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