Stop the Presses

A statistical snapshot of our rapidly shrinking media universe.

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  • Since 1972, the percentage of Americans who read a newspaper every day has dropped from 70% to less than 40%.
  • Between 1990 and 2004, daily newspaper circulation dropped 11%, from 62 million to 55 million.
  • 2/3 of independent newspaper owners have shut down in the past three decades.
  • Less than one-fifth of the nation’s 1,500 daily newspapers are independently owned.
  • Nearly 40% of newspapers, accounting for almost 70% of daily circulation, are owned by major newspaper chains.
  • More than half of all U.S. markets are dominated by one paper.
  • Newspapers are expected to make $50 billion from advertising in 2007.
  • Online advertising is expected to account for around 6% of newspapers’ total ad revenues in 2007.
  • The newspaper industry has cut 2,800 full-time newsroom jobs this decade.
  • The value of the United States’ airwaves has been estimated at $367 billion.
  • The number of companies owning TV stations has dropped 40% since 1995.
  • 1/3 of independent TV owners have left the business.
  • Less than 4% of television stations are owned by minorities.
  • The number of radio station owners has dropped by 34% since 1996, when ownership rules were relaxed.
  • 1/3 of local radio stations are owned by out-of-town conglomerates.
  • Comcast and TimeWarner serve 40% of households with cable TV.
  • Since the passage of the Telecom Act of 1996, cable TV rates have gone up 40%.
  • Nearly one-fifth of Americans get their Internet access via AOL/TimeWarner.

Sources: Common Cause, Isp-Planet.com, Newspaper Association of America, Project for Excellence in Journalism, StopBigMedia.com

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

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