Because of the size of the country, the newspaper industry the United States has been primarily local in character. There are three major national newspapers: USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, and the national edition of The New York Times. The others—1,331 daily newspapers in 2014, down by about 100 from a decade earlier—are metropolitan and local newspapers; among the most important are the Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post, the Chicago Tribune, and the two New York tabloids, the Post and Daily News. Many newspapers are part of chains that own many newspapers, and there is a general trend toward consolidation of ownership. The largest chain is Gannett, the publisher of USA Today, which owns more than 100 daily newspapers.
Newspaper circulations in the United States peaked in the late 1950s, remained more or less stable during the 60s and 70s, and then entered a period of significant decline in about 1990. Though newspaper circulation overall has continued to decline in recent years, some of the most important newspapers have had circulation gains, primarily in digital subscriptions, including The New York Times, which had 2.5 million digital-only subscribers in 2017, The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post, which is becoming more national in readership.
The economic state of newspapers in the US has been more dire than the state of their audience. US newspapers have historically depended more on advertising than circulation revenue, with the share of advertising reaching 80 percent of revenue in some periods. As advertising has shifted online, particularly after the 2009 recession, newspapers have been hit hard. Between 2006 and 2016 total newspaper industry revenue declined from $49 billion to $18 billion. This has led to an acceleration of a downward trend in the size of reporting staffs that had begun earlier. Newsroom employment in daily newspapers peaked in 1990 at 56,900, and by 2014 had declined to 32,900.
There has been a trend in recent years where important newspapers that are on shaky financial footing are being purchased by billionaires who can afford to keep them alive. Important cases include the purchase of The Washington Post by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, of the Las Vegas Review-Journal by casino mogul Sheldon Adelson, and of the Los Angeles Times and San Diego Union-Tribune by biotech entrepreneur Patrick Soon-Shiong. This has stabilised some newspapers financially, but led to concerns about the influence of owners on content. Adelson, in particular, is highly involved in politics, and all have economic interests affected by public policy.
News magazines were at one time a central element of the US media landscape but have declined considerably. Those declines have slowed in recent years, however. The top news magazines—about fifteen are important nationally—have circulations a bit under 1 million and do still have a significant role in public discussion. There are also many lifestyle and special interest magazines, with much higher circulation than news and opinion magazines, led by such titles as Better Homes and Gardens and People.