Most printed newspapers’ circulations and readerships continue their steady 40-year declines. More than 80 percent of American adults read a newspaper each weekday in 1964, but only 58 percent did in 1997, according to the Newspaper Association of America. In 2003, an estimated 54 percent read a newspaper each weekday. Most analysts predict that fewer than half of adults will read the paper every day by the end of this decade.

Printed editions are becoming ever less relevant and less popular in most people’s lives.

Worse, the decline in newspaper readership is accelerating. Most surveys predict that young people won’t read print editions when they grow older. At one time it was generally accepted in the newspaper business that people are more likely to read newspapers as they grow older. But research in 1985 by Philip Meyer, a journalism professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, discovered that the newspaper reading habits that people develop in their 20s stick with them as they age.

Fewer people in their 20s nowadays read newspapers. At last year’s University of California Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism conference on younger readers, Duane Sweep, the director of research for Minnesota Opinion Research Inc. (MORI), presented data showing that young adults are increasingly less interested in newspapers. Scarborough Research found that 44.6 percent of young adults read a newspaper each weekday in 1996 but only 38.5 percent did in 2001.

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