Don’t read all about it

There’s a lot of sound and fury over the newspapers’ coverage of the election, so as a bit of fun on a Friday lunchtime I’ve dropped some ABC figures into Excel. What they show is the diminishing importance of “the press”, as we have always thought of it.

Between the last General Election and this the sales of the national daily and Sunday titles is down by a third overall to what must be the lowest figures since the early Victorian era (Here – from p16 – are post war UK newspaper trends).

Here’s the list of the dailies first, which I’ve then split into the traditionally Tory and Labour/Lib Dem-supporting press:

APRIL 2010 (WITHOUT BULKS) MARCH 2015 (WITHOUT BULKS) FALL
Daily Express 665,731 445,245 -220,486 -33%
Daily Mail 1,990,599 1,553,856 -436,743 -22%
Daily Mirror 1,239,691 897,786 -341,905 -28%
Daily Record 329,240 195,158 -134,082 -41%
Daily Star 823,025 423,953 -399,072 -48%
Daily Telegraph 683,220 479,290 -203,930 -30%
Financial Times 356,634 191,248 -165,386 -46%
The Guardian 288,917 174,941 -113,976 -39%
The Independent 129,069 42,606 -86,463 -67%
The Sun 2,955,957 1,858,067 -1,097,890 -37%
The Times 506,997 369,669 -137,328 -27%
i 210,909 210,909
TOTAL 9,969,080 6,842,728 -3,126,352 -31%
right leaning 7,982,163 5,321,328 -2,660,835 -33%
left leaning 1,986,917 1,521,400 -465,517 -23%

And here are the Sundays (note the Sun on Sunday has replaced the News of the World)

APRIL 2010 (WITHOUT BULKS) MARCH 2015 (WITHOUT BULKS) FALL
News of the World/Sun on Sunday 2,905,780 1,474,959
Sunday Mirror 1,124,080 790,181 -333,899 -30%
The People 530,117 329,757 -200,360 -38%
Daily Star Sunday 348,188 256,131 -92,057 -26%
Mail on Sunday 1,881,435 1,378,193 -503,242 -27%
Sunday Express 574,323 384,969 -189,354 -33%
Sunday Times 1,135,077 779,391 -355,686 -31%
Sunday Telegraph 510,146 374,283 -135,863 -27%
The Observer 331,791 194,054 -137,737 -42%
Independent on Sunday 113,540 43,960 -69,580 -61%
TOTAL 9,454,477 6,005,878 -3,448,599 -36%
right leaning 7,354,949 4,647,926 -2,707,023 -37%
left leaning 2,099,528 1,357,952 -741,576 -35%

Of course, for all of the press the numbers visiting their websites has increased substantially in these past five years (with the possible exceptions of the Times and the Sun who now have hard paywalls), but so has the competition in the online space, which means that the old brands are not as powerful as they were. It should also be remembered that a lot of the growth in online newspaper traffic is being driven by subjects that might not have passed as “news” five years ago.

And where might we be by the time of the next General Election in 2020? Here are two columns for each paper, one that shows what will happen if they lose the same number of buyers as they have in the past five years, the second if they suffer the same percentage fall between now and 2020 as between 2010-15. (Here are those projected trends if the % fall is the same over the next five years as over the previous five as a handy cut out ‘n’ keep graph. click to enlarge)

Untitled

We could be looking at the last General Election where the traditional press are viewed has having any but the most marginal influence.

absolute numbers % fall
Daily Express 224,759 297,783
Daily Mail 1,117,113 1,212,936
Daily Mirror 555,881 650,178
Daily Record 61,076 115,680
Daily Star 24,881 218,385
Daily Telegraph 275,360 336,230
Financial Times 25,862 102,558
The Guardian 60,965 105,928
The Independent 0 14,064
The Sun 760,177 1,167,951
The Times 232,341 269,538
Sunday Mirror 456,282 555,464
The People 129,397 205,124
Daily Star Sunday 164,074 188,413
Mail on Sunday 874,951 1,009,557
Sunday Express 195,615 258,045
Sunday Times 423,705 535,162
Sunday Telegraph 238,420 274,603
The Observer 56,317 113,496
Independent on Sunday 0 17,020
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2 comments

  1. Newspapers will retain their influence despite falling circulations so long as broadcasters allow them to set the news agenda. “Reviewing” the papers (often just reading out stories) is a cheap way of filling time for rolling news channels. Web-only outlets like Huffington Post or Buzzfeed are ignored in favour of the same old headlines from the Daily Express (see expressbingo.org.uk for how often they recycle). And a splash in the Daily Mail is picked up as a talking point by the next day’s breakfast shows and phone-ins – the Today programme says we must talk about this as “it’s in the papers” so the following day’s papers can say the row continues – until they throw the next dead cat on the table.

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