Stop the Presses

A statistical snapshot of our rapidly shrinking media universe.


  • Since 1972, the percentage of Americans who read a newspaper every day has dropped from 70% to less than 40%.
  • Between 1990 and 2004, daily newspaper circulation dropped 11%, from 62 million to 55 million.
  • 2/3 of independent newspaper owners have shut down in the past three decades.
  • Less than one-fifth of the nation’s 1,500 daily newspapers are independently owned.
  • Nearly 40% of newspapers, accounting for almost 70% of daily circulation, are owned by major newspaper chains.
  • More than half of all U.S. markets are dominated by one paper.
  • Newspapers are expected to make $50 billion from advertising in 2007.
  • Online advertising is expected to account for around 6% of newspapers’ total ad revenues in 2007.
  • The newspaper industry has cut 2,800 full-time newsroom jobs this decade.
  • The value of the United States’ airwaves has been estimated at $367 billion.
  • The number of companies owning TV stations has dropped 40% since 1995.
  • 1/3 of independent TV owners have left the business.
  • Less than 4% of television stations are owned by minorities.
  • The number of radio station owners has dropped by 34% since 1996, when ownership rules were relaxed.
  • 1/3 of local radio stations are owned by out-of-town conglomerates.
  • Comcast and TimeWarner serve 40% of households with cable TV.
  • Since the passage of the Telecom Act of 1996, cable TV rates have gone up 40%.
  • Nearly one-fifth of Americans get their Internet access via AOL/TimeWarner.

Sources: Common Cause, Isp-Planet.com, Newspaper Association of America, Project for Excellence in Journalism, StopBigMedia.com

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The more we thought about how MoJo's journalism can have the most impact heading into the 2020 election, the more we realized that so many of today's stories come down to corruption: democracy and the rule of law being undermined by the wealthy and powerful for their own gain.

So we're launching a new Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption. We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We'll publish what we find as a major series in the summer of 2020, including a special issue of our magazine, a dedicated online portal, and video and podcast series so it doesn't get lost in the daily deluge of breaking news.

It's unlike anything we've done before and we've got seed funding to get started, but we're asking readers to help crowdfund this new beat with an additional $500,000 so we can go even bigger. You can read why we're taking this approach and what we want to accomplish in "Corruption Isn't Just Another Scandal. It's the Rot Beneath All of Them," and if you like how it sounds, please help fund it with a tax-deductible donation today.

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