The Top 25 U.S. Newspapers by Website Traffic

Following up on my last post about how newspapers stack up online, I wanted to explore whether or not the newspapers with the largest circulation also have the most website traffic? If you look at the total unique visitors to each newspaper’s website over the past 12 months (as estimated by Compete.com), the top five U.S. newspapers remain the same – though using this measure, USA Today does climb into the top spot.

Does offline popularity translate into online popularity? It would appear so at first glance. When you remove the limitations of physical distribution, some newspapers expand their influence online. Here are the top 25 U.S. newspapers ranked by total unique monthly visitors for the past 12 months:

  1. USA Today - 239,425,560
  2. The New York Times - 217,513,400
  3. The Wall Street Journal122,397,004
  4. The Los Angeles Times - 94,889,543
  5. The Washington Post – 9,1758,837
  6. New York Daily News82,225,690
  7. The San Francisco Chronicle – 46,696,844
  8. The New York Post45,903,055
  9. The Chicago Tribune33,230,030
  10. The Star-Ledger – 31,836,326
  11. The San Jose Mercury News, Contra Costa Times and The Oakland Tribune - 28,391,971 (combined)
  12. Chicago Sun-Times – 27,351,047
  13. Philadelphia Inquirer and Philadelphia Daily News - 23,797,570
  14. The Houston Chronicle23,203,975
  15. The Dallas Morning News - 22,858,507
  16. Seattle Times21,878,532
  17. The Arizona Republic20,598,071
  18. The StarTribune20,537,048
  19. The Denver Post - 20,058,704
  20. The Plain Dealer18,755,471
  21. The Oregonian - 17,421,959
  22. The Detroit Free Press15,522,009
  23. The Tampa Tribune13,280,440
  24. Newsday - 11,443,807
  25. San Diego Union-Tribune10,928,313

While traffic is a good measure of a newspaper’s reach online, it’s not necessarily a direct correlation to how much authority a newspaper has. A better measure of online authority is Google PageRank – which I’ll explore further in my next post.

Image Credit: U-g-g-B-o-y-(Photograph-World-Sense)

About Jeremy Porter

Jeremy Porter is co-founder and editor of Journalistics, a lively blog about public relations and journalism topics.

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  • http://twitter.com/ckanal Craig Kanalley

    No Huffington Post??

  • http://www.theprcoach.com Jeff Domansky

    Enjoying your series Jeremy! Now just imagine how profitable they all would be if they weren’t tied to printing plants, dead trees, delivery trucks and other “old” infrastructure? I hope they survive long enough to get there. Yet, wrapping fish and chips in a pair of Kindles or iPads won’t be the same.

  • David Beard


    This is a funny list. If this truly measured traffic of the top 25 newspaper websites by pageviews, the Boston Globe’s regional powerhouse Boston.com would likely finish #6 or #7, based on its figures. But since the newspaper itself just missed the top 25 by the much-smaller and increasingly irrelevant ABC print circ. measure, it is among a few the biggies, in terms of overall traffic, that aren’t represented. (Disclosure: I edited Boston.com until last week, when I joined the National Journal).

    The statistical selection looks even more arbitrary for the followup Google PageRank post, where Globe/Boston.com would have been among the select sites tied for #2 behind NYTimes.com. It’s really an incomplete picture in today’s hybrid print-online news publishing game.

    That said, I’m glad you’re exploring these issues. All the best,


  • http://www.thepaperboy.com/ Paperboy

    Interesting to note that in comparing the two lists the most popular newspaper web sites get about 20+ times the traffic of those near the botton of the list, whereas on the print list, the difference between top and bottom is about 8 times. Goes to show how those titles with global brand awareness (USA Today, NYT etc) have much greater potential to garner a significant internatonal audience as well.

    I agree with David that “total page views” would probably be a more telling metric of just how much of each newspaper’s conent is being consumed and their potential to generate online revenue.

    • Jeremy Porter

      Good stuff – thanks for adding to the conversation. I didn’t think about looking gap difference between the two lists.

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  • http://independent.com Randy Campbell

    I’m confused as to what you are listing here: a year’s worth of total unique visitors?

    What’s confusing is this sentence:
    “…top 25 U.S. newspapers ranked by total unique monthly visitors for the past 12 months (average monthly visitors are in parenthesis).”

    The monthly figures and parentheses do not appear either.

    By the way, in my experience, Compete is a rather unreliable source for these figures; Quantcast does not make traffic guesses like Compete, they actually measure on site.

    • Jeremy Porter

      Man I need an editor. I ended up not including the monthly uniques in parentheses (because it stays the same – # / 12). That said, my sentence is horrible and confusing.

      I agree with your tools assessment – unfortunately, I don’t have access to Quantcast numbers.

      • tim

        typo in bottom paragraph, two of’s…. sorry

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  • http://www.ajc.com Incomplete

    Applause to you for covering this topic, although your collection methodology might be a little off. According to Compete.com, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (ajc.com) had over 22 million uniques over the past 12 months placing them around #15 on your list.

    • Jeremy Porter

      Yes, you are correct. But it wasn’t a ranking of all newspapers by online visitors – I described the methodology in the kick-off post… I took the top 25 by U.S. circulation and resorted by their web traffic. The concept was more to see how those papers with the highest circulation would rank by other factors. Thanks for pointing that out though.

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  • David Boardman

    I have to assume that the number for The Seattle Times is a typo.

    • Jeremy Porter

      Technically, that is the traffic for (seattletimes.com) – but that redirects to your homepage (http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/home/index.html) which has a lot more traffic. I’ve fixed the mistake, sorry for the error.

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  • Michael Molligan

    The Tampa Tribune link is to TampaBay.com which is actually the St. Pete Times link.

  • http://www.classifiedexecutivetraining.com Janet DeGeorge

    Wait a minute…a 12 month accumulative total? Take those numbers, divide by 365 days of the year and you will find not one of those numbers is larger than their daily print circulation.

    • Jeremy Porter

      That’s a great observation Janet, thanks.

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    This almost seems to fall identically with ranking for media market size.

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  • http://www.detnews.com Mark Hinojosa

    Compete is not a reliable metric. In our case they are reporting unique visitors in Sept that are 1/4 our internal number. I don’t think that the the numbers accurate, so there is no way to make a comparison.

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