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Thursday, November 08, 2007

No long-lasting love for newspaper Web sites

Freelancer Erik Sherman offers a bit of business advice for freelancers who had hoped to turn what used to be their steady newspaper print writing into steady newspaper Web writing. His advice? Forget it. Find another market for your work. His primary source is this study by Nielson/Net Ratings (PDF) and released by the Newspaper Association of America.
What that tells you is forget doing long stories for newspaper web sites. No one is reading them, because no one is spending enough time to do so. In fact, forget these as markets. When the New York Times web site is getting under 14,000 unique visitors a month, something is definitely going wrong. Even if it's getting five times that number, this is bad news.
The top five newspapers and their page views and average time per visit for the six-month period between March and August 2007 are:

Site / # Page Views Per Month / Average Time Per Visit Per Month

1. New York Times / 13,857 / 20 min. 20 sec.

2. Washington Post / 11,682 / 14 min. 14 sec.

3. USA Today / 9,186 / 10 min. 57 sec.

4. Wall Street Journal / 8,337 / 9 min. 55 sec.

5. Los Angeles Times / 4,992 / 12 min. 34 sec.

32. The Plain Dealer / 989 / 10 min. 55 sec.


virtuallori said...

I'm not sure that I agree with his analysis of these numbers. I get the daily NYT headlines via e-mail, and usually click through to at least one story. I tend to not read long stories on the screen, but save or print them to read later. Twenty minutes is plenty of time to read a couple of short pieces and save a couple of longer ones to read later.

Also, I'm sure there has to be a mistake in the readership numbers. I could personally point to at least a dozen people who read the NYT online at least once a month. His 14,000 figure is WAY too low.

Wendy Hoke said...

It does seem low, but these numbers are coming from the Newspaper Association, which typically likes to make itself look good. I'm frankly surprised by the low numbers.