Norway is still among the most avid newspaper consuming
countries in the world, with a sale of 600 copies per 1 000 inhabitants. Even
if the total circulation of newspapers fell 2.8 per- cent in the 2008, an
average Norwe-gian reads 1.8 newspaper per day. 80 percent of the population 12
years or older read a newspaper every day of the week (85 percent on weekdays).
Most newspapers find something positive to say about these
figures for themselves, one way or another.
Nonetheless, recent abrupt circulation decline in core areas brings
questions marks. A recent study proves
that it is almost impossible to maintain editorial coverage and distribution in
the outskirts of the country. Journalist Håkon Okkenhaug has tried to find
reasons why the major Norwegian newspapers lose their readers.
Scary Figure for Leading
In the research which he recently completed, Okkenhaug
analyzed the spread between the figures for 16 major newspapers. The goal was
to find out where in the geographic areas the newspapers lost most circulation
in the period from 2002 to 2010.
Okkenhaug found that the total circulation fell dramatically
outside the central areas for most newspapers, respectively 18 percent in
neighboring municipalities and 28 percent on the edge of coverage areas.
for Traditional Media
– What is most frightening is that newspaper circulation
dropped by 10 percent in the central areas, where both the number of
subscribers and advertising revenues are greatest. Measured in the number of
copies, this represents the 51 percent of the total circulation decline for the
relevant papers. It increases the risk that advertisers choose their digital
competitors. The findings are sad for for anyone who believes in the printed
newspaper, said Okkenhaug to Journalisten.
Okkenhaug also expressed his concern about the media’s
future. Newspaper industry's business model, which has functioned for 150
years, is threatened by an increasing number of new digital media. I have no
doubt that society in the years ahead will need skilled journalists and independent
media. But the concern is whether there are enough readers who are willing to
pay so much so that newspapers can be independent of advertisers.
Circulation Rates and Internet Media
The current winners when it comes to circulation are niche
news-papers like Morgenbladet, Utrop and Klassekampen. Also, many small local
newspapers around the country have stable figures or even experience minor
increases. Worst hit are the two big national tabloids VG and Dagbladet. They
were down around 8 per- cent. Their websites however, are still growing and are
spectacular successes in terms of audience. Two years ago 2 million people, 53
percent of the population 12 years +, read VG either on print or on the
Internet. The figure for Dagbladet was 1,3 million. The Internet is
increasingly re- ported as the main source of news, especially among young
people. Uniquely for Norway, six of the ten most visited web sites are Internet
newspapers owned and run by traditional newspaper companies.