Professor examines newspapers in study

Helen Spencer

In modern days with television, computers, the World Wide Web and other non-media activities, there’s not much time for printed material.Bill Knight, assistant professor of journalism at WIU, recently totaled these figures in a comparative study done on 14 newspapers in the western Illinois area for his quarterly magazine, Western Illinois Press Review.

“Newspapers are losing subscribers nationally and western Illinois is no exception,” Knight said. “However, in the context of population loss, the region has pockets of success, too.”

The majority of newspapers surveyed lost daily circulation numbers, but some showed increases in penetration – the number of households the newspaper reaches.

“If you figure in a population change, then circulation changes take on a whole new meaning,” Knight said. “It softens the blow to know that population decrease is the reason for circulation decrease.”

Knight obtained information from the Audit Bureau of Circulation, the Illinois Press Association and the Iowa Newspaper Association for his study. The Jacksonville Journal Courier, the Burlington Hawkeye, the Moline Daily Dispatch and the Rock Island Argus showed increases in penetration from 7.1 percent to 12.3 percent. Those newspapers also experienced decreases in circulation.

Newspapers that experienced a decline in circulation were the Quad City Times of Davenport, Ft. Madison Democrat, Galesburg Register Mail, Keokuk Daily Gate City, Kewanee Star Courier, LaSalle News Tribune, The Macomb Journal, Monmouth Review Atlas, Peoria Journal Star and the Quincy Herald Whig.

“Some of the circulation loss can be blamed on population decline in some areas,” Knight said. “The biggest competitor that is hurting circulation now is time. People don’t feel they have time to read a paper.