Last night I had the privilege of attending the DC chapter of the International Association of Business Communicators meeting headlined by Amy Mitchell of the Pew Center on the State of the News Media in 2010.

In our 2007 report covering America’s Newspapers and the Internet, we argued that the Internet does not necessarily have to be a threatening competitor for newspapers. In 2007 the most glaring shortcomings of newspaper websites largely stemmed from a failure to see the benefits of not only allowing, but actually encouraging reader participation and the sharing of content across the web. Rather than worrying about attracting visitors, we sought to establish that newspapers needed to take steps to: 1. Lengthen the amount of time users spend on their websites. 2. Expand the purpose behind website visits. 3. Convert page views and stickiness into revenue. 4. Improve advertiser incentives for purchasing online ads. To achieve these objectives, we argued that newspaper websites needed to become strategically and visually better than that of their competitors.

Some of the key findings from The Pew Research Center’s “State of the News Media 2010” analysis concerning newspapers include:

Digital Audience

“Online audience continued to be a positive counterpoint for the industry. Monthly unique visitors to newspapers rose 14% in 2009, according to Nielsen Online to roughly 74 million."


“Advertising during the year declined for the first time since 2002, according to data from eMarketer. The firm’s updated August projections put the declines at 4.6%, to $22.4 billion in total revenues."     

"But some categories fared better than others. Search, which flows mostly to aggregators like Google, was projected to grow 3% in 2009 to $10.8 billion, But display advertising revenue, which news sites rely on, was expected to fall 2% to $4.8 billion. Classified revenue was projected to plummet 31% to $2.2 billion in 2009. Accounting for 17% of online ad spending in 2003, classified are now just 9%.”

Are Users Willing to Pay for Their Favorite News Sites?

“A new survey by PEJ and Pew Internet and American Life Project suggests there is a difficult hill to climb in putting content behind a pay wall. Of those that have a favorite Web site (just a third of online news users), only 19% said they would continue to visit if that site put up a pay wall."     

"The prospects for growth in conventional display advertising also look difficult. The vast majority of Internet users, 79%, say they never or rarely had clicked on an online advertisement. They don’t mind them. They simply ignore them.”

News Investment

"Of the top roughly 200 sites analyzed by PEJ, fully 67% are tied to a legacy media outlet, meaning that they are at least partly funded by another platform such as cable TV or newspapers.”