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Marriott Cuts Free Newspapers for Guests, ‘USA Today’ Feels the Pain

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The familiar sight of newspapers scattered on the floor outside hotel rooms might soon be a thing of the past.

In what is being billed as an environmentally-conscious move, Marriott International Inc. announced today that it plans to stop giving leaving free newspapers under guests’ doors in the morning unless the papers are specifically requested via an online form. That means a cut in the distribution of 50,000 newspaper copies daily, or 18 million copies annually of USA Today, the Wall Street Journal, and local papers. The move will also reduce carbon emissions by 10,350 tons yearly. 

It’s a practical decision–25% of Marriott customers don’t even touch their morning paper–but it’s also a major blow to the newspaper industry, and more specifically to USA Today. A significant portion of the paper’s readership comes from hotel travelers, and if more hotel chains follow Marriott’s lead, the country-wide daily might not be around for much longer.

As a result of today’s announcement, the paper will only lose approximately 3% of its daily circulation.  But since Marriott was the first hotel to offer broad delivery of newspapers, the move signals a sea change for hotel newspaper deliveries. If these deliveries cease entirely, will any papers besides hyper-local dailies and weeklies (and maybe the New York Times) be able to survive?

Marriott’s program begins June 1 at Marriott, JW
Marriott and Renaissance hotels.

[Via Reuters]AS