The Rural West Initiative and the Bill Lane Center for the American West explore the growth of newspapers across the United States:
With American newspapers under stress from changing economics, technology and consumer behavior, it's easy to forget how ubiquitous and important they are in society. For this data visualization, we have taken the directory of US newspaper titles compiled by the Library of Congress' Chronicling America project — nearly 140,000 publications in all — and plotted them over time and space.
To see the distribution of papers over the years, simply click and drag the slider on the top. Context for each decade is displayed on the right. Each circle represents papers in a city, and the larger the circle the more papers.
Catch the animated version below. They start in the east and make their way west.
Pretty cool. One caveat however is that the data does have some known issues in terms of comprehensiveness. It doesn't include all papers from 1690 to present, and there isn't a way to easily update the dataset since it is government-maintained.
It's also kind of hard to see when new papers pop up in cities where there are already papers in publication, and you can't easily when papers die. That said, there's still plenty information that you can take away and it's a solid foundation for more.