Despite vicious rumors to the contrary, newspapers are going gangbusters with more than 450 million copies sold daily, according to the World Association of Newspapers.

The 2006 WAN World Press Trends survey shows the number of daily newspaper titles published worldwide rose above 10,000 for the first time ever.

Global newspaper circulation is up almost 10 per cent over five years – 2.36 per cent of which was last year.

In 2006, the industry was worth US$180 billion globally and employing more than two million people. Paris-based WAN CEO Timothy Balding said:

What we are seeing completely contradicts the conventional wisdom that newspapers are in terminal decline. Newspapers are doing far better than commonly believed. In fact, the figures confirm that the industry is healthy and vigorous and is successfully dealing with increasing competition from other media. The fashion of predicting the death of newspapers should be exposed for what it is – nothing more than a fashion, based on common assumptions that are belied by the facts.

The figures show that there has been a quiet revolution in the number of daily launches. This burgeoning growth of daily titles worldwide has largely gone unnoticed by market makers and media pundits obsessed with the digital media revolution. Meanwhile the real-world growth of newspaper titles and circulation continues inexorably.

The London Paper and London Lite, both freesheets established last year, added to the number of free dailies circulated, which has more than doubled in the last five years from 12 million copies in 2001 to 29 million in 2005. But as The Observer observed on the weekend, “Nobody’s making a pile – just heaps of waste paper”.

Europe has shown the strongest combined paid-for and free newspaper circulation increase, with a rise of almost 15 per cent over five years and 3.31 per cent in 2005.

December ABC figures have London Lite above 400,000 and The London Paper up at 410,000. There are still 263,000 Londoners prepared to fork out 50p each day for the Evening Standard. This is down 18 per cent year-on-year.

Peter Fray

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