I’m trying to get my head around the latest stats from NADBank, released under the headline Readership of Canadian daily newspapers remains strong.

(NADBank is the Newspaper Audience Databank Inc., “the principal research arm of the Canadian Daily Newspaper industry and a tri-partite organization whose membership is comprised of daily newspapers, advertising agencies, media companies and advertisers.”)

The latest report also contains stats for online readership, which is not particularly high. Weekly online readership figures (as a percentage of the audience 18 years and older) is 22 per cent in Toronto, 16 per cent in Montreal, 24 per cent in Ottawa-Gastineau, 18 per cent in Calgary, 17 per cent in Edmonton and a lowly 15 per cent in Vancouver.

On the print side, I’m happy readership is “strong,” but it’s difficult to pull the reality out of what NADBank is reporting from its surveys for fall 2007 and spring 2008, given that the release doesn’t include comparative numbers from fall 2007 and spring 2008.

Luckily, I have the ‘net.

Direct comparisons are difficult, though, because I’m relying on past newspaper coverage of the NADBank findings and some reports are more complete than others. Here’s what I’ve been able to suss out about the local market, though.

In this year’s study (’07-’08), the percentage of the audience who read a copy of the Vancouver Province yesterday was 22 per cent. The Province’s share of the audience in ’05-’06 was 28 per cent. This year’s figure for the Vancouver Sun is 23 per cent; in ’05-’06 it was 26 per cent. The Globe & Mail also saw a drop in its share, from six per cent to four. The National Post was at four per cent in both studies.

Interestingly, the two free dailies in the city both had a larger share of the audience in ’06-’07: Metro climbing to eight per cent from six, and 4 Hours going from 10 per cent of the readers to 13 per cent.

While I can compare percentages from this year to ’05-’06, I can’t compare total numbers, because the earlier newspaper reports didn’t include them. But I did come across coverage of another NADBank study, this one covering all of 2007, that does have numbers. Here they are for the two major local dailies, with the numbers NADBank is reporting for the ’07-’08 study first and the numbers from the ’07 survey in brackets, again using the data from the number of people who read the newspaper yesterday.

  • Vancouver Province: 415,300 (414,000)
  • Vancouver Sun: 435,200 (449,500)

I’m not ready to draw many conclusions from any of this for a couple of reasons. One is that there’s not enough complete published data from any of the NADBank studies to make in-depth comparisons.

The other has to do with methodology. The survey involved both phone and mail-in responses. In reading the methodology, it seems that the phone work involved only landlines. A Stats Canada survey from 2007 showed that 10.2 per cent of households in B.C. were cellphone-ony, and that more than two-thirds of the people in cellphone-only houses are 34 years old or younger. A chunk of data from the younger population may be missing.

What I’m left with at the moment is that newspaper readership may “remain strong” but the reality in Vancouver is that only a little over half of the audience of adults 18 and over read any newspaper yesterday.

(That actually puts us ahead of much of the country. Other cities: Toronto, 45 per cent; Montreal, 50 per cent; Ottawa-Gatineau, 52 per cent; Calgary, 51 per cent; and Edmonton, 47 per cent.)

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