CHICAGO — Spending on newspaper ads across the U.S. declined 5.6 percent in the second quarter, an industry trade group said Tuesday, marking the third straight quarter that the decrease has narrowed on a year-over-year basis.

Total print- and online-ad expenditures fell to $6.44 billion from $6.82 billion in the second quarter of 2009, according to the Newspaper Association of America.

After dropping 29 percent in the second quarter of 2009, the rate of decline in ad spending slipped slightly to 27.9 percent in the third quarter, and then to 23.7 percent in the fourth quarter.

The decline then moderated considerably in the first quarter of 2010, to 9.7 percent.

The results reflect the view expressed by companies such as Gannett Co. and the New York Times Co. after reporting second-quarter earnings.

Gannett, the largest U.S. newspaper publisher, said in July that print-ad revenue fell 6 percent, the smallest decline for Gannett in three years.

Print-ad spending fell 7.6 percent in the second quarter, the NAA said, to $5.69 billion, after plunges of 42.3 percent, 40.4 percent, 37.9 percent, 31.7 percent and 14.4 percent in the past five quarters.

Online-ad spending rose by 14 percent to $743.9 million, following a 5 percent improvement in the first quarter and declines in each quarter of 2009.

“Despite a highly competitive environment, online-advertising growth rebounded back into double digits, while declines in traditional revenue categories continue to moderate as the general advertising recovery progresses,” said John Sturm, chief executive of the NAA, in a statement. “The fact that online now represents nearly 12 percent of overall newspaper advertising revenues bodes well for our medium’s future in an increasingly digital environment.”

Over the past two years, the newspaper industry has been left for dead by many prognosticators, as readers pursue a wide variety of sources for news and information online.

During 2008 and ’09, Tribune Co., publisher of the Chicago Tribune and the Los Angeles Times and other papers; the parent of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune; Philadelphia Newspapers LLC; and Journal Register Co. filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. Denver’s Rocky Mountain News ceased publication in 2009, and the Seattle Post-Intelligencer was turned into a Web-only entity.

McClatchy-Tribune News Service is a partnership between two newspaper conglomerates: Tribune Co. and the McClatchy Co., which owns The Miami Herald and The Sacramento (Calif.) Bee.