This study is based on two primary sources of information.
The first source is extended face-to-face interviews with editors and other newsroom executives at 15 daily newspapers across the United States. Interviews, conducted by Tyler Marshall, occurred between early November, 2007 and mid-January, 2008. Everyone interviewed for this report spoke initially on background. Where comments and thoughts are attributed by name, specific permission was received. Circulation figures of specific newspapers noted in the report are from the Audit Bureau of Circulations website and represent the average weekday circulation, rounded up or down to the nearest thousand, through the six months ending March 31, 2008.
The second source of information is the responses to a 43-question survey, administered by Princeton Survey Research Associates International (PSRAI) and sent to the editors of 1217 daily newspapers. The 259 replies included over half (55%) of all papers with circulations of more than 100,000, as well as nearly one-third (30%) of all papers with circulations between 50,000 and 100,000. Among the country’s far larger number of papers with circulations below 50,000, 177, or just over 17%, responded to the survey. Face-to-face interviews were conducted at newspapers in each category. The largest newspaper visited had a circulation of more than 670,000, the smallest around 20,000. All responses to the survey were anonymous. A complete methodology of the survey follows below.
Survey of Editors
This survey is based on responses from 259 top editors and news executives at U.S. daily newspapers. It was administered online by Princeton Survey Research Associates International (PSRAI). The surveys were completed from January 29 through February 29, 2008.
Requests for participation were sent to a total of 1,217 individuals via e-mail, with a link to an online Web address where the survey was hosted by PSRAI. Each respondent had a unique identification number with which he or she could log in to the survey.
Definition of Population Universe and Contact Procedures
The universe of potential respondents was defined as editors and senior news executives at all U.S. daily newspapers, regardless of circulation size, including those in Alaska and Hawaii. Weekly, ethnic and alternative newspapers were excluded from the definition. Editors were excluded if they did not have a valid email address available.
The sample was drawn from the online directory Cision Media Source (formerly Bacon’s Media Source). After ineligible organizations were excluded, this list covered 1,265 U.S. daily newspapers. All qualified editors at eligible dailies were pulled from the Cision directory and were included in the sampling frame. Qualified editor titles included: editor, editor-in-chief, co-editor, editor/publisher, executive editor, and managing editor.
One individual editor per organization was selected for the sample. If an organization had multiple qualified editor titles, the senior-most title was selected. This resulted in a list of 1,265 top editors. After editors who did not have email addresses were eliminated, the final list consisted of 1,217 editors.
Editors were first emailed on January 29, 2008, explaining the study and requesting their participation. Emails included a link to the online survey as well as a unique password to gain entry into the web instrument. Follow-up emails were sent on February 5 to those who did not already complete the survey or did not refuse to participate. Where possible, follow-up telephone calls were made to editors to encourage their participation in the survey.
A total of 259 of the 1,217 news executives completed the survey, or 21 percent. Here is how the raw response rate varied by newspaper size, defined by daily circulation.