Friday’s Times had an interesting analysis of the most recent newspaper circulation figures. While long-term circulation trends are well-known to be heading downwards, some are being hit harder than others.

Specifically, the tabloid have haemorrhaged two million readers over the past decade while the more upmarket papers — formerly known as broadsheets — have a more-or-less steady readership.

Overall, reports of the expiration of the dead tree business are rather exaggerated:

… national newspapers, news delivered on dead trees, still sell more than 12 million copies a day, with at least another two million sold by regional dailies.

But what of the net? The growth in online news has been remarkable, with papers from both of the traditional segments of the newspaper market gaining online readers:

Sales of The Sun have fallen by more than 750,000 in the past decade. But the online Sun, where the paper’s future lies, had a staggering 131 million page impressions in November and 5.4 million unique users.

There were 6.9 million unique users of Times Online in November. Guardian Unlimited had 106 million page impressions and 11.7 million unique users in December, up 19 per cent year on year.

These are mind-boggling but exhilarating figures, which show that British newspapers today are reaching global audiences that would have been unimaginable only 20 years ago. Newspapers printed on dead trees undoubtedly are on their way out, but online newspapers are on the way in — and in exactly the same way that online shopping has suddenly taken off.

The online readership for US news sites were also out last week. In December, BBC News had 6.6 million unique visitors in the US, making it the 16th largest news site there, and the only British outlet in the top 20.