If America's daily-newspaper publishers are wondering about causes of circulation decline, they should look at the content of their product, says Tom Stites, a veteran major-daily editor who now works for the Unitarian Church in Boston. In the last decade, according to Pew Research data analyzed by Stites, a stark pattern has emerged: While circulation declines have been across the board, they are far more pronounced among middle- and low-income readers. "Why?" asked Stites in the text of a speech given June 30 at the first Media Giraffe Project summit at the University of Massachusetts Amherst Stites suggests the answer lies in the type of stories papers publish -- appealing more to the upscale, moneyed demographic favored by advertisers. Imagine how a daily newspaper looks to a single mother with three children? To illustrate his point, he took one day of The Boston Globe -- not because the paper is unique, but because, in his view, it is typical. "My purpose has not been to pick on The Globe," he writes. "Given changes in retailing and thus advertising, the changes in newspapers have been inevitable."
Is Stites' analysis fresh? Is it right? What should the nation's editors do?
Some inciteful blog posts about Stites' talk:
HERE ARE THUMBNAILS OF THE GRAPHICS: