The number of newspapers in the United States has continued to shrink, even as the country has experienced substantial growth in population, affluence, and literacy.At the beginning of the twenty-first century, the country's population was slowly aging, as a result of the post-World War II "baby boom," and older Americans have tended to be more frequent newspaper readers than younger persons.The press in the United States evolved through a long history of freedom and openness, and it operated at the beginning of the twenty-first century within one of the richest and most powerful societies in the world.Press freedom was a crucial factor in the formation of the American republic, and strict protections for the press were added to the United States Constitution just two years after it was ratified.
There is a large and quickly growing Spanish-speaking minority in the United States, concentrated most visibly in the Southwest, California, and Florida but present in all large cities and in many rural and agricultural areas.
Despite the growing population and affluence of the United States, many newspapers continue to suffer from declining or stagnant circulation.
In 2000, daily newspaper circulation reached a low of 0.20 newspapers per capita, down from 0.30 in 1970.
Nonetheless, the press enjoyed broad protection that allowed aggressive reporting, including laws that sometimes mandated cooperation from public officials.
The federal government and many state governments have passed freedom of information laws that require public meetings to be open and public documents to be available to citizens, including reporters, simply for the asking. public is one of the most literate in the world, with a literacy rate reaching 97 percent.