Finally, some good news for newspapers
Here's a desperately-needed sliver of cheery news for beleaguered newspaper execs: the Newspaper Association of America's data-rich fall readership report concludes that traffic to newspaper web sites jumped in the first half of this year. The average number of unique visitors to news sites shot up 32 percent, to 55.5 million, compared to the first six months of 2005.
The Reuters round-uphighlights the fact that not only are the web sites drawing more readers, they're drawing younger readers - a key point since advertisers covet this demographic most. The increases are encouraging because, as just about everybody knows, print editions are sucking wind.
Yet, for all the money and hopes poured into news sites, they're still considered junior varsity players trailing the all-star Internet pure plays like Yahoo, Google, or eBay. But in many local markets, newspapers still have the advantage: it's been difficult and costly for Internet biggies to try to crack local communities.
The key takeaway from the readership report: thanks to steady, if slowing, cash flow from print, local newspaper publishers might just survive to fight another day. This is particularly true for those that have been taking their web editions seriously. Perhaps the most intriguing stat from today's report (via paidContent): "80% of online newspaper visitors mix between the web and print depending on convenience." In other words, this is may not be a zero sum game.
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