Monday, November 26, 2007

Fly-By Viewers

According to the article “Online Salvation?” published by the American Journalism Review, Internet revenue is growing at a double-digit rate. Last year newspapers collected nearly $2.7 billion. This is the kind of news that “soothes beleaguered publishers and journalist.”

As print circulation and advertising increases, the newspaper industry and news providers generally look towards online where Web sites run by local newspapers are typically the most popular sources for news and online advertising in their local communities. What seems like a bright light for news agencies is actually proving to be a dark cloud. According to the article:

Online newspaper audience seems to have all but stopped growing...Newspaper Web sites are attracting lots of visitors, but aren’t keeping them around for long. The typical visitor to an average of just 34 minutes and 53 seconds browsing its richly detailed offerings in October...about 68 seconds per day online.

Hard-core news visitors tend to linger longer online, but they are a minority. Greg Harmon, director of a newspaper research firm, estimates that as many as “60 percent of online newspaper visitors are fly-bys, people who use the site briefly and irregularly.”

I found this to be a quite suiting article as we are about to judge local newspapers on their Web sites. It sounds like now, more then ever, news organizations need to focus on what makes a good Web site in not only attracting viewers but keep them. It doesn’t do a lot of good when a reader is on your site for barely a minute a day, it especially won’t do much good if advertisers start finding out that online ads aren’t a good investment plan. I think that newspapers should really focus on their Web sites to make them not only user friendly and appealing to the eye, but full of useful information. They need to find ways to get readers to their sites for reasons other then simply browsing headlines for the possibility of a current event news quiz. They need to draw readers to functions that they actually want to utilize.

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