If you change one word and add two others, the answer to the resulting question -- "What's still mostly black and white, but red all over?" -- would be, based on just-released information about their daily circulation, "all but one of the nation's top 25 newspapers turning in comparative numbers."
The figures come from the newspaper industry's Audit Board of Circulations (ABC), and cover the April-September 2009 time period.
Here are a few paragraphs from Michael Liedtke's coverage of the carnage at the Associated Press, which depends largely on newspaper subscription fees for its lifeblood. Note the "so far" reference in Liedtke's third paragraph:
Circulation at newspapers shrank at an accelerated pace in the past six months, driven in part by stiff price increases imposed by publishers scrambling to offset rapidly eroding advertising sales.
Average daily circulation at 379 U.S. newspapers plunged 10.6 percent in the April-September period from the same six-month stretch last year, according to figures released Monday by the Audit Bureau of Circulations.
It's the largest drop recorded so far during the past decade's steady decline in paid readership - a span that has coincided with an explosion of online news sources that don't charge readers for access. Many newspapers also have been reducing delivery to far-flung locales and increasing prices to get more money out of their remaining sales.
The latest decline outstripped a 7.1 percent decrease in the October 2008-March 2009 period and a 4.6 percent decline in last year's April-September window.
Papers which one thought might have bottomed out after steep declines in several previous reporting periods were still among the worst performers this time around. Examples (from the Daily list):
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution did not make the top 25. A year ago, it was at 275,000. Since the currently reported circulation at the Number 25 St. Petersburg Times is 240,000, that means that the AJC, after a string of previous double-digit drops, decline by at least another 12.7% (35,000 divided by 275,000). Atlanta is the country's ninth-largest metro area.
That the four grievously biased papers identified in the three previous paragraphs are among the serially worst performers especially supports the notion that while the Internet and technology in general have clearly been factors in the print industry's decline, bias in its various forms -- leftist slants, annoying PC language, and the suppression of stories that don't fit the conventional "wisdom" template -- have also contributed to the accelerating decay in many instances. Simply put, they don't get it, and they're paying dearly for it.
Image was found at Memebox.com.
Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.