1. They devote more space to news, about twice as much.
2. Hard news gets lower priority for space. Business coverage, sports, and special features have all risen in relative prominence, business coverage doubling in percentage terms.
3. Front pages are much more local in their orientation. Foreign stories are down from 20 percent to 5 percent.
4. Female bylines have increased from 7 to 29 percent.
5. Stories are longer.
6. Papers print more letters to the editor.
And what about overall feel?
Papers of the 1960s seem naively trusting of government, shamelessly boosterish, unembarrassedly hokey, and obliging. There was apparently no bottom to the threshold for local news and photos. Writing was matter of fact, and stories were surprisingly often not attributed at all, simply passing along an unquestioned, quasi-official sense of things. The worldview seemed white, male, middle-aged, and middle-class, a comfortable and confident Optimist Club bonhomie. With it came a noblesse oblige sense of purpose. A paper was inextricably woven into its community, a self-anointed major player almost preening with pride and duty.
From a 1999 study by Carl Sessions Stepp, recently republished in Breach of Faith: A Crisis of Coverage in the Age of Corporate Newspapering.
Addendum: Bruce Bartlett adds: “You neglected to note that over the same period, newspaper circulation fell like a rock. Perhaps people would read more papers if they were more like those in the ’60s.”