Why is newspaper circulation growing in Brazil as it falls in the U.S.?

By Maira Magro

Circulation in Brazil is increasing once again after a decline last year during the economic crisis, O Estado de S. Paulo reports. On average, 97 papers reported a 1.5 percent increase in the first quarter of 2010, compared with an 8.6 percent drop in U.S. circulation over the six-month period ending March 31. What accounts for this difference?

A recent study by the German Newspaper Publishers’ Association comparing Germany and the U.S. may give some insight. According to The New York Times, the group says the comparative success of German papers is structural: its media companies are smaller and often family-owned, which insulates them from the pressures U.S. papers are under from shareholders for short-term profits.

The study contends that such pressure led to “reckless” cuts in the quality of print content, which – combined with the free availability of print stories online – pushed readers and advertisers onto the internet, the Times writes. In Germany, like Brazil, most papers never stopped charging for their online content.

Data shows that there has been a full recovery in Brazilian newspaper circulation since the start of the crisis, AdNews explains. The German study concluded that its papers would not follow the same path as the U.S. Does the same apply to Brazil?

Note from the editor: This story was originally published by the Knight Center’s blog Journalism in the Americas, the predecessor of LatAm Journalism Review.