by Mike Masnick
Tue, Sep 4th 2007 8:39am
One of the defenses that people often put up for newspapers' dislike towards Google News is that newspapers don't want "drop in" visitors. Instead, they want people who specifically read The Local Paper Times, or whatever, rather than randomdude23 who shows up from across the internet to read one story. So they want people who are going to go straight to their site, stick around and read many different pages. After all, this is exactly how newspapers used to work. Most people would subscribe to one, possibly two, local newspapers and then read a good portion of it (potentially, cover to cover). Unfortunately, however, that's not quite how people consume news these days. A new study shows that people are rather promiscuous in their news consumption. They constantly divide their attention among many different news brands. This shouldn't be surprising, considering how many news options people have these days, though it should also ease the worries of those that believe people get all their news from one source and therefore need to be "protected" from bias at that source. This "news promiscuity" is also a reason why news providers should go out of their way to cater to the needs of their readers, as it likely means that they're constantly reshuffling their "news portfolio." Therefore, doing things like making your content tougher to access -- as the NY Times just did with the Freakonomics RSS feed -- is only an invitation to lose readers to a more friendly source that knows it needs to keep its readers' attention.
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