Newspapers Brag About Online Traffic While Wishing They Got Less Of It

from the they-really-don't-get-it dept

The Newspaper Association of America is trumpeting results of a new study showing that unique visitors to newspapers’ websites climbed over 20% in 2005, as 55 million Americans turned to them for the news. The data sounds okay, and the newspapers will certainly use it as evidence that they’re doing a good job of leveraging the internet. However, the traffic gains have come in spite of, not because of, the newspapers’ actions. They’re still complaining about search engines and news aggregators driving traffic to their sites (Chicago Tribune article: bugmenot, appropriately, required). It’s not clear what part of the traffic=ad sales equation they don’t get, though they insist that sites like Google News are destroying their business model — a statement that belies any idea that they get the internet. The only hope for the newspapers is that they can find a new business model. If they don’t kill of the old one of stuffing spam into dead trees, someone else will.

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Comments on “Newspapers Brag About Online Traffic While Wishing They Got Less Of It”

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Davis Freeberg (user link) says:

Be Careful What You Wish For

I’ve gotten so sick of hearing these papers whine about how they are losing money to aggregators like Google News, that I would happily support an initive for Google to blacklist any site that doesn’t want their Google juice. If their articles stopped showing up in search results,

I wonder how quickly we would see these papers change their tunes.

Personally, I think Google News should blacklist any site that requires registration to use, but I’d be happy just to see Google let the complainers shoot themselves in the foot. There is enough great content out there that Google doesn’t need these troublemakers as a source. If it was up to me, I’d replace the papers with Techdirt and then see what kind of tune the established players whistle.

Mark says:

Re: Be Careful What You Wish For

“If it was up to me, I’d replace the papers with Techdirt…”

One problem: Most Techdirt “articles” are just links to news stories on actual newspaper Web sites. Same with Google News. It’s difficult to replace the organizations that are doing the news gathering, even if their ideas around revenue generation are antiquated.

jcyr (user link) says:

More traffic doesn’t mean more money for newspapers. It means money from web site is eating away from money from their print distribution. And they make much more from a reader in print than a few users on their web site.

Execs wont change their business model until it is clear to them how to make MORE money than they are now. Or until their current business model crumbles beneith them (as it is doing).

Perhaps the new model is millions of blogs / independant writers and our publishers are the techdirts, slashdots, boingboing type crowd. Couple that with on demand printing for those that want to read on the can and you may have something.

Michael says:

Re: Re:

Well, reading on the can I can already do — that laptop is good for more than just toting to college to pretend to myself I’m doing productive work between classes (assuming Space Empires IV is productive, but pushing Amonkriee from Wolf 359 seemed damn productive today).

The problem I have with a new industry that is purely blogs is.. well, credibility. No offense to TechDirt or any others, they have their legitimate place. But when I want investigative reporting, done on a budget with a team of reporters that traverse the nation, or the world, to get contacts, whistle blowers, or the next ‘deep throat’, along with the facts and preferably only a slight bias (hard to be entirely neutral even if they want to be), I don’t come here, and sure the HELL not Slashdot and some others. No, I consult BBC, CNN, Christian Science Monitor, and other ‘professional’ news orginizations to get the best estimation of the matter.

I’ve yet to see ‘blogs’ like this and most others reach that level of seriousness. Anandtech and other tech sites, they’re serious about what they do — Anand doesn’t seem to mind leaving his wife and going around the world ten times to chase down one little detail about an upcoming product from AMD, Intel, ATI, Nvidia or the tier-one motherboard manufacturers. HardOCP tends to tell the truth even if it earns them scorn from those that dont want to hear it. Still yet, one-off bloggers who have no one but themselves and whatever they may have as a conscience to check themselves professionally I wont trust in the same way I would a real news orgnization, not today, not tomorrow, not ever. And if bloggers came together and checked, edited, scrutinized each other before things were published, and gathered funds and went on investigative reporting trips to where ever the news was or may be, then they wouldn’t really be mere bloggers any more, would they? They’d be professional reporters just like one working for Fox News or CNN, not a blogger. Bottom line; if that ever DOES happen, where we’re reduced primarily to bloggers (CNN and Fox and BBC will never die; people like TV too much) on the local level and niche news areas, then it’ll be sad day. It’s far too easy for a single blogger to ‘spin’ articles and get ignorant masses believing ignorant things, where at least if the masses stick with real news groups, then at least they’re only slightly politically biased, and can easy get the other side of the story by changing channels from Fox to CNN, etc.

Again! Not to say they don’t have their place; they do. Just not as our primary source of information.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Michael's comment

So–wait. You’ll trust big, old news corporations over any blog? Big, old news corporations like the New York Times in the age of Jayson Blair, or Fox News with their unbelieveable amount of slant and bias disguised as “Fair and Balanced”? Television news is total fluff; I’d only trust it on local events, and in that case you get more time watching commercials about the upcoming coverage of said story than you actually get on the story itself. Newspapers, fortunately are far more substantial. But in their case, I treat them the same as blogs. That is, you need to find one you can trust, by comparing it to other sources–which is where blogs are very useful even if you prefer the old-style outlets. I know you are not against them, but I think you underrate them.

Greg says:

Re: Re:

Newspapers are aggregators and filters of content already — they have news feeds from the AP, Reuters, etc. They could do the same thing with the “millions of blogs/independent writers” out there — putting together an edited collection of topics relevant and interesting to their readers.

I don’t have time to read “millions” of writers — I read two papers every morning, have a Yahoo! and Google home page, and check out a *few* blogs that I like.

Newspapers could get it, if they weren’t addicted to the classified ads as their main profit source.

Michael says:

Re: Re: Re:

Speaking of classified ads.. I had a candy machine route I wanted to sell a few months ago, and thought ebay was too national, I needed only local expsure, so checked the Orlando Sentinel..

Holy. Crap. I’d of been better off throwing them in a dumpster. Went back to ebay. I can’t recall how much they wanted, but a simple ad was like $300 I think. Stupid, unless it’s far more effective then I think it is.

giafly says:

Implication for Search Engines

From the article: “unique visitors to newspaper websites jumped 21% from January 2005 to December 2005, while the number of page views soared by 43% over the same period.”

If more traffic were coming via search engines, you’d expect these people to read very few pages, perhaps only the one that the search engine found. In contrast, you might expect people who visit a site directly for their daily news to read all the interesting news pages.

Page views are increasing faster (43%) than unique visitors (21%) which suggests that a smaller proportion of visitors are coming from search engines. Perhaps that’s why this article doesn’t complain about them.

angie says:

the trouble with bloggers

the trouble with bloggers is that they don’t have the time, money or resources to break that really big story, like Watergate, Coingate or whatever else is coming down the pike. Bloggers are real people with real OTHER jobs, for the most part, which keep them, I would hope, pretty busy.

Independent people writing their opinions on the internet are never going to be able to take the place of a real, trained reporter. Opinions do not equal news.

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