Historic newspaper circulation data: how many fewer newspaper readers are there?

Okay, we get it, newspaper circulation is down. Everyone is ditching print for online.

But, I get the feeling it is a bit exaggerated. I’ve already posted here that we’re simply living through what we’ll someday call the newspaper bubble, the market swinging the industry nearer to a healthy environment.

I would love to really investigate the rise and fall of newspaper circulation numbers through generations, but the numbers are kept fairly private by those who have the best access, groups like the Audit Bureau of Circulations, a nonprofit that was formed in 1914 by publishers and advertisers wanting to provide the industry regulated, reputable circulation data – and they aren’t giving it out to me.

So, we tend to mostly guess from reports in newspapers that provide some information. I did find some great numbers from the Newspaper Association of America, though the data is only up to 2003, perhaps before industry fears went public and the newspaper bubble had clearly burst. After that date, the NAA makes you pay for the information.

Rather than forking out the $50, let’s just crunch what we have.

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Post-Gazette: Turnpike lease stuck in committee [with my audio]

HARRISBURG — A deal to lease the Pennsylvania Turnpike “will not see the light of day,” vowed the chairman of the House Transportation Committee yesterday.

That would effectively kill Gov. Ed Rendell’s proposal to enter into a $12.8 billion, 75-year lease with a consortium comprising the Spanish multinational Abertis Infraestructuras SA and Citi Infrastructure Investors, a subsidiary of Citibank.

“There is no meaningful support among our committee members,” said committee Chairman Joseph F. Markosek, D-Monroeville. He said he has no intention of bringing it to a committee vote.

“I am putting a permanent hold on it. It will not see the light of day for as long as I am chairman.”

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Hear some of Markosek’s comments above.

Read the rest on Post-Gazette.com.

Hear Rendell’s response of Markosek’s comments:

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Image courtesy of Central Penn Business.

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Post-Gazette: State passes budget [with my audio]

I contributed to today’s Pittsburgh Post-Gazette report that a state budget deal was reached and signed last night.

I also cut an audio clip of Gov. Ed Rendell speaking on the budget, which the Post-Gazette put on its Web site: hooray for New Media!

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Alongside Rendell is House Appropriations Chairman Dwight Evans, D-Philadelphia, and House Majority Floor Leader Bill Deweese, D-Fayette. Behind him is outgoing Budget Secretary Michael Macsh, who came with Rendell from Philadelphia.

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July 4 Celebration in Philadelphia: I'm not there

I had plans that if a state budget deal was finished in time, I would go back to Philadelphia to see their July 4 celebration outside of the Art Museum.

Being the home of the Declaration, Cradle of Liberty and birthplace of Democracy, Philadelphia has to throw the best Independence Day celebration. It’s in the Constitution, I think.

This year, right about now, John Legend is performing, I am in the State Capitol in Harrisburg, not even enjoying what the state capital has to celebrate our nation’s independence. Lame!

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Post-Gazette: Pennsylvania cigarettes will be safer

Here working in the State Capitol on July Fourth…

HARRISBURG — Cigarettes in Pennsylvania are due to get safer, under legislation approved by the Legislature.

House Bill 1612, introduced by Rep. Timothy J. Solobay, D-Washington, would require all cigarettes sold in Pennsylvania to be “fire safe.”

Low-ignition strength cigarettes are less likely to cause a fire if they are left unattended by careless smokers, said state Fire Commissioner Edward A. Mann, who praised the legislation.

Mr. Mann said, “Fire-safe cigarettes are rolled with bands of less porous, slow-burning paper, so if the cigarette is left unattended, it will go out when it burns down to one of those bands. There have been too many tragedies caused by the careless use of cigarettes, and this standard is designed to reduce that risk.” The bill was passed unanimously in both the House and the Senate and will be signed into law by Gov. Ed Rendell, said spokesman Chuck Ardo.

Read the rest on Post-Gazette.com.

I also contributed to this report on a stalled commercial dog kennel bill.

Photo courtesy of Germany Joys.

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The end is here: Christopher Wink joined Facebook

Today, nearly four years after it launched, I have joined Facebook.

The site itself launched in September 2004, and during that summer, while I readied to begin what would be a transcendent tenure at Temple University in Philadelphia, founder Mark Zuckerberg was watching his baby explode. From its Harvard roots, through other Boston and Ivy League universities to Temple and much of the rest.

I can remember first hearing about it in late August 2004, on a porch of my college dormitory. From the very start I ignored it.

I can remember hearing it roll out to other, smaller universities and then excitement because friends from community colleges could join – with institution e-mail addresses. I continued to ignore it.

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Budget debate can wait for Taps, okay?

The press release of the day, filling your desire for the perhaps ridiculous nature of PR. I am going to sit in the State Capitol over July 4th and beyond and this is what we’re focusing on…

House approves Lentz resolution urging schools to teach Taps

HARRISBURG, July 3 – The House of Representatives adopted a resolution (H.R. 803) Tuesday introduced by state Rep. Bryan Lentz, D-Delaware, urging the state secretary of Education to direct Pennsylvania school districts to provide training in the playing of Taps.
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The 10 journalists I respect, admire the most

I am working in Harrisburg. State government reporting is, you might say, the junior varsity of Capitol reporting. Pennsylvania does feature the largest full time state legislature in the country, but Harrisburg is not D.C., even I can admit this.

So, there are those who point to Washington D.C. as the home of the world’s greatest reporters – covering the most powerful force in the world certainly requires a deal of talent and influence. Even those in Harrisburg take covering this big State Legislature very seriously, understandably so.

But there are elements to journalism that I can’t help but think matter more to me, interest me more, that serve a great value, particularly as the newspaper industry needs to move towards community stories.

Government oversight is a fundamental, but here, in no particular order, is a list of the journalists I respect and admire most outside of the pressure cooker of U.S. Capitol coverage.

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Column inches: words to inches [Updated]

So maybe if you don’t involve yourself with newspapers and aren’t buying advertising space, you haven’t come across “column inches,” which is one inch of space in a column of a newspaper. People love reviewing a newspaper by its use of spaces, in available inches, like this report on the New York Times by Vanity Fair.

Editors at newspapers almost always deal in inches, telling writers to give them 11 inches, or 15 inches, or 25 inches. Us younger folks, with our word processors, are all about word counts. It’s super easy to get a word count today, so college newspapers and I are used to that.

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Number of Views:138544

Philadelphia Weekly: Father Figure

Pick up a copy of today’s Philadelphia Weekly. My first freelanced article makes an appearance.

There are saints and prophets on all corners of Philadelphia, but on the 1400 block of North 11th Street few are Catholic and even fewer are Irish. So 50-year-old Father Kevin Lawrence, with a hardy laugh and soft, precise speech, might seem out of place—if he weren’t taking over for another Irish Catholic.

In fact, the future of one of the most dynamic and independent parishes in the Philadelphia Archdiocese rests in Lawrence’s hands. Yet the only thing anyone seems concerned about is that Lawrence doesn’t write poetry. That’s because Lawrence is replacing St. Malachy’s Father John McNamee, a North Philadelphia icon.

Read the rest on Philadelphia Weekly.com.

See two other photos of the pair after the jump.

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Number of Views:4284