Probably hardest to measure, but certainly a factor in the decline, is the increasingly dismal quality of many big papers as the result of slashing staff cuts over the past couple of years (and don’t expect those cuts to be over, especially with ongoing declines like these circulation figures). Many American dailies, not very good to begin with, are turning into virtual shoppers; even the best papers are noticeably reduced versions of their former selves, as coverage has been pruned and sections shrunken or dropped. Readers clearly are noticing.
Indeed, they are noticing. But beyond being “reduced versions of their former selves,” newspapers are abandoning their role as seekers of truth. They instead trying to be “balanced.” “He said, she said” and using labels to mark people, ideas and organizations leaves most readers lost in their search for solid information.