Photo Credit: judsond (Creative Commons)

In the worst quarter in modern history for American newspapers, advertising sales fell by an unprecedented 28.3% in the first three months of 2009, plunging sales by more than $2.6 billion from the prior year.

Statistics posted without publicity on the website of the Newspaper Association of America show that print ad sales fell by a historic 29.7% to $5.9 billion in the first period of this year and that online sales fell a record 13.4% to $696.3 million.

The worst percentage decline was in the highly profitable classified advertising category. which dived 42.3% to produce slightly less than $1.5 billion in sales.

As illustrated in the graph below, newspaper sales have dropped at a steadily accelerating rate since April, 2006. In records published by the NAA that date to 1950, there is no precedent for the sort of decline suffered in the first three months of this year.

Photo Credit: judsond (Creative Commons)

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