"No experiment can be more interesting than that we are now trying, and which we trust will end in establishing the fact, that man may be governed by reason and truth. Our first object should therefore be, to leave open to him all the avenues to truth. The most effectual hitherto found, is the freedom of the press. It is, therefore, the first shut up by those who fear the investigation of their actions." --Thomas Jefferson to John Tyler, 1804.

Appalling numbers

The fall audited circulation numbers for newspapers nationally are out, and they are . . . awful.

From a year ago to this fall, paid circulation for a whole bunch of newspapers around the country is down by more than 10% – that’s more the norm than the exception. (The average is around 7%.) What has been the largest paper in the Northwest, the Oregonian, is part of that, down 12.1% to 249,163. In the spring of 2007, it was 319,625.

(This happens to come on the same day the Oregonian names a new publisherChris Anderson of the Orange County, California, Register, though he does have background in several Northwest newspapers.)

The Oregonian is now listed at 22 among the nation’s newspapers, while the Seattle Times is now 20 – its numbers having grown after the collapse of the print Post-Intelligencer. But not to all that much: 263,588 is well short of where the two papers were a year ago.

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