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However, even this interest-driven increase was slowing as of the summer of 2002. Another 12 cities had competing newspapers published under joint operating agreements, an exemption to antitrust laws allowing two struggling newspapers to combine all operations outside their respective newsrooms. Of those cities, five—Tucson, Los Angeles, Chicago, New York and Seattle—had more than two competing daily newspapers, leaving 16 cities with only two competing newspapers.The general trend of the United States press over most of the twentieth century was toward consolidation, chain or corporate ownership, and newspaper monopolies in most towns and cities. This number represents a massive decline from newspapers' height in the late nineteenth century, when nearly every rural town and county seat might have had two or three competing daily and weekly papers, and larger cities might have had up to 20 or 30 papers.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.Although most Americans can claim some European descent, people of Hispanic origin are the fastest-growing minority group in the United States.Between 19, the number of people claiming Hispanic descent grew from 23 million to 32 million.
In 2000, daily newspaper circulation reached a low of 0.20 newspapers per capita, down from 0.30 in 1970.
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.
However, some serious tabloids have gained a large following in certain cities; New York commuters in particular seem to enjoy the tabloidsized paper for its convenience in subway trains and on buses.
As of September 30, 2000, there were a total of 51 tabloid-format papers being published in the United States.