US newspapers saw revenues fall two percent in 2012, an industry association said Monday, suggesting an easing of the woes of the beleaguered sector.
The Newspaper Association of America, in what it termed the most comprehensive look at the industry, said revenues totaled $38.6 billion last year compared with $39.5 billion 2011.
The group said the revenue mix is changing, offering a reason for optimism.
Advertising revenues fell six percent, extending a recent trend, but other sources of income are growing, it said. This includes circulation revenue, which rose five percent.
The survey said new revenue sources such as digital consulting for local business and e-commerce transactions grew by eight percent.
"America's newspaper media are transforming themselves," said Caroline Little, NAA president and chief executive.
"In virtually every community they serve, newspapers have the biggest newsrooms, the best-known brands and significant audience market share. Now they are building on those to find new ways to serve audiences and local businesses."
The report, which covers US newspaper operations excluding international operations or non-media enterprises, found that $18.9 billion of revenue came from print advertising and $3.4 billion from digital advertising.
That's in addition to another $10.4 billion from circulation, $3 billion from new revenue sources and $2.9 billion from advertising from direct marketing or non-daily publications.
Digital revenues—which include circulation, advertising, e-commerce, digital marketing and other sources—made up 11 percent of total revenue in 2012 for the 13 companies that provided this data, the NAA said.
The five percent overall growth in circulation revenue was the first gain in this category for the newspaper industry since 2003. These gains were from digital or bundled subscriptions, which offset a 14 percent drop in print-only circulation revenue.
A study last month by the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism said newspapers "have started to experiment in a big way with a variety of new revenue streams and major organizational changes."
Explore further: US newspaper ad revenue down 7.3% in 2011