This story is part of our special coverage, The News in Crisis.
There is a term for news organizations that predate the internet—legacy media—and you may have heard they’re dying. But in researching who was watching and reading what at the end of 2016, one thing became clear: Some of the oldest voices in the news are still the biggest. Just the print issue of The New York Times reaches more people every day than the Huffington Post does, and the nightly news shows on ABC, CBS, and NBC each have many millions more viewers than even the highest-trafficked news site. At least for now.
Daily Audience Numbers Explained
In addition to the country’s most prominent daily newspapers, we looked at a few major weekly and monthly publications that people read throughout the week and month—like, ahem, WIRED. Magazines hold down the top three spots in print circulation.
The media outlets behind the three highest-trafficked news sites have a combined age of 343 years. To calculate daily US web traffic, we averaged the monthly unique visitors of three recent months, then divided by 30. If you combine print and web audiences, The New York Times has the greatest overall audience, with 5.4 million readers, followed by USA Today (3.8 million) and The Washington Post (3.4 million).
More people watch the nightly news on ABC, CBS, and NBC in one evening than watch The O’Reilly Factor, cable news’s highest-rated program, in an entire week. These numbers reflect the Live+7 industry standard, which measures the number of people in the US who watch a program in real time or within a week of having recorded it.
This article appears in the March issue. Subscribe now.