Open Access Journal

ISSN: 2183-2439

Article | Open Access | Ahead of Print | Last Modified: 28 August 2023

The Geography of Newspaper Circulations: A Spatial Taxonomy of “News(Paper) Deserts” in the United States

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Abstract:  Using the newspaper circulation data collected through the Alliance for Audited Media (n = 1,925 across five years), this study provides the first empirical spatial analysis of newspaper circulation in the US, employing the theoretical framework of communication geography and the analytical tool of spatial econometrics. From 2018 to 2022, a steady decline (at an average of 24.1% per year) in newspaper circulation was observed in most of the counties in the dataset, after controlling for spatial and temporal random effects. A positive and significant spatial autocorrelation was found across the US. The local indicators of spatial association results identified four types of spatial clusters that offer a more nuanced understanding of the local spatial distribution of newspaper circulation: news deserts, news oases, news islands, and the fringe of news deserts. The study also used Bayesian spatiotemporal modeling to pinpoint the regions that are more sensitive to the spatial structure regarding the decline of newspaper circulation.

Keywords:  communication geography; local indicators of spatial association; news deserts; newspaper circulation; United States

Published:   Ahead of Print

Issue:   News Deserts: Places and Spaces Without News (Forthcoming)

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© Ryan Yang Wang. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (, which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.