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Fred Lum/The Globe and Mail

In a time of continuing upheaval for the media industry, Canada's largest newspapers are holding on to their audience. Readership of the print versions of newspapers showed modest growth in 2010, according to numbers released Wednesday by the Newspaper Audience Databank, or NADbank.

Weekday readers of The Globe and Mail grew slightly more than 2 per cent, to 948,300.

Including weekends, The Globe attracted 7 per cent more cumulative weekly readers in 2010 than in 2009. The Toronto Star grew 1.3 per cent in that same measurement, while the National Post was roughly flat.

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The Toronto Star had the widest average weekday print readership last year, virtually unchanged at just under 1.2 million readers. The National Post increased its weekday average by just over 3 per cent, to an average of 414,000 readers.

When print and online audiences are combined, The Globe and Mail had the largest weekly audience, 3.14 million, an increase of 5.6 per cent. The Star is at 3.07 million.

Last year's NADbank numbers are based on a two-year average, because budget cuts led to the organization using smaller sample sizes to judge readership. The two-year rolling average is needed to accurately compare that study with the 2009 numbers.

In terms of digital readership, The Globe led with nearly 6-per-cent growth in 2010: roughly 1.3 million Canadians said they had read The Globe online in the past week. The Star drew in 935,500 more digital readers, a 1.4-per-cent increase compared with 2009. The Post, whose parent company Postmedia Network Canada Corp. is pursuing a "digital first" strategy, boosted its online readership 2.1 per cent, to 594,800.

"We're always pleased when we get data which shows us growing," said The Globe's publisher and chief executive officer, Phillip Crawley. "Often in the world outside it's assumed that newspapers are inevitably shrinking. We're not."

He also noted that since NADbank measurements end on Sept. 30 every year, the 2010 numbers do not yet reflect The Globe's readership for its newly redesigned paper and website, which launched Oct. 1 last year.

"We've seen a lift in circulation, we've obviously put a lot more marketing promotion behind the relaunch," he said. "…We'll have to wait a year to see the impact of that."

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