Mar 11, 2022 - News

A 162-year daily print tradition in Des Moines is ending

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Saturday will mark the first time since 1860 that Des Moines is permanently without a daily print newspaper.

What's happening: The Des Moines Register ends its regular Saturday print edition this week, transitioning that coverage to an electronic format.

Why it matters: It's another page in our nation's local news rebirth as more Americans move to digital products.

State of play: Gannett — the Register's corporate owner and the nation's largest newspaper chain — is ceasing Saturday print editions in 136 markets this month. That's more than half of the media company's newspapers.

Catch up fast: Newspapers were once the sole means of accessing news, DSM Register editor Carol Hunter noted in a January letter to subscribers.

  • The industry's financial fortunes and subscriber base have eroded since the mid-2000s while website traffic is growing, according to the Pew Research Center.

By the numbers: U.S. newspapers' weekday circulation has fallen 61% since 1989, according to Pew. The estimated total in 2020 was 24.3 million.

  • Average monthly unique visitors to newspaper websites have climbed by 68% since 2014 — to just under 14 million.

What to watch: Local news sources are expanding via ethnic media outlets, nonprofits and corporate news startups.

The bottom line: Local news still matters but how we get it is changing.

A photo of The Des Moines Register
Last week was The Des Moines Register's last regular Saturday print edition and the end of a 162-year tradition in the city. Photo: Jason Clayworth/Axios.
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