Last Thursday, we released the 2009 edition of our newspaper study.  There was some great commentary about the study around the blogosphere.  The general reaction was relief that newspaper website are getting better, but a sense that whatever they do probably won’t be enough.  Below are few of the more interesting points folks made.


Mainstream news will never be the same again. You can now talk back to it, take part in it and interact with it along with countless other sources of information. Just as no software company can produce content or code as well as a world of users and developers collaborating can, so too can newspapers no longer keep us sufficiently informed all on their own. It’s nice to see they aren’t trying to anymore. These are changes for the better and show that while old media institutions are struggling to hold on to revenue in the face of the internet challenge, the fight is also doing them a lot of good at the same time.

Brian Solis:

Newspapers are are experimenting with social tools to source and share information and also to create and cultivate an active community that connects the media property to various micro communities. Unfortunately, for many, experimentation through socialization doesn’t necessarily provide a newspaper bailout (#newspaperbailout) plan. Like in anything related to the Social Web, an outbound, community-focused champion or team of evangelists, in addition to a more social platform, is required to simply compete.

TechCrunch (check out this graph):

Newspapers are still lurching their way around the Web, a new study finds, but at least they are making some progress. The Bivings Group released a study today that quantifies the Website features of the top 100 newspapers in the U.S. Among the findings: Nearly every newspaper site has reporter-written blogs and some form of video; features that elicit content from readers are on the rise; podcasts and mandatory registrations are down; social networking features are pretty much non-existent.

My take: Just a few years ago many newspapers had formal policies in place against linking to external sites, had all their content locked up behind some sort of registration wall and literally none of them had the community features that blogs have included from the beginning. Newspapers now acknowledge that there is a world outside their walled gardens and are participating in it. That is an impressive change when you consider where they started from. However, it is hard not to think that the current model is really beyond saving and that more drastic measures are needed. To survive, they are going to need to actually get ahead of the curve (like the Las Vegas Sun) instead of simply adding blog-style features to their websites two year after they’ve become industry standards.

About the Author
Todd Zeigler
Todd Zeigler serves as the Brick Factory’s chief strategist and oversees the operations of the firm. In his sixteen year career in digital, he has planned and implemented campaigns for clients including the Pickens Plan, International Youth Foundation, Panthera, Edison Electric Institute, and the American Chemistry Council. Todd develops ambitious online advocacy programs, manages crises, implements online marketing strategies, and develops custom applications and software. He is bad at golf though.