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The first newspaper to appear in Michigan was Father Richard's Michigan Essay or Impartial Observer, published in August 1917. Continuous newspaper coverage in Michigan dates from the appearance of the weekly Detroit Gazette, also in 1817. The state's oldest paper still being published is the Detroit Free Press, founded in 1831 and the state's first daily paper since 1835.

In 2002 there were 49 daily newspapers in Michigan, with Sunday editions published in the state. Two of the state's largest newspapers—Knight Ridder's Detroit Free Press and Gannett's Detroit News— entered into a joint operating agreement (JOA) in 1989. The advertising, business, delivery, and production of each paper joined forces in a company called Detroit Newspapers; the editorial and news operations remain separate and report to their respective parent companies. During a labor dispute in the mid-1990s, the Detroit Journal was published weekly by locked-out newspaper workers. The News had the 6th-largest daily circulation of any paper in the US in 1994, and ranked 7th. In 2001, however, the News had dropped to number 42 nationwide and the Free Press was at number 18.

The following table shows leading daily newspapers in Michigan with average daily and Sunday circulation in 1998:


Detroit News and Free Press (m,S) 614,116 749,113
Flint Journal (e,S) 88,817 104,503
Grand Rapids Press (e,S) 139,800 191,435
Kalamazoo Gazette (e,S) 56,754 74,001
Lansing State Journal (m,S) 70,845 89,505
Pontiac Oakland Press (m,S) 70,767 84,361
Saginaw News (e,S) 47,586 58,236