By paulgillin | April 28, 2008 - 5:23 am - Posted in Paywalls

How successfully are newspapers making the jump to the Web? It depends on whom you believe. A lot of research is trying to make sense out of people’s online reading habits as they relate to newspaper brands, and the numbers are inconclusive.

The monthly Audit Bureau of Circulation figures are due today, and the news is not expected to be good. Editor & Publisher got the drop on the figures and says that for the six months ending in March, daily circ was off 3.5% and Sunday was down 4.5%. The ABC has started tracking online readership for the first time, but it’s too soon to compare numbers. E&P did cite research by Scarborough Research that showed that combined print/online reach of major dailies is slowly declining.

“When comparing 20 papers, only two — The Atlanta Journal Constitution and The Oregonian in Portland — increased their integrated market reach year-over-year,” the story says. A Scarborough exec verifies, “Print [readership] is in a steady decline, and online readership is growing but the declines in print are not being offset by the increases in online readership.

The good news is that display advertising on newspaper websites is booming, according to a Media Post analysis. The bad news is that online classified advertising isn’t. That combination is leading to slowing growth in newspapers’ digital revenues.

But wait, there’s more good news. A Newspaper Association of America report, based on research commissioned by Google, finds that 30% of Internet-using newspaper readers went online to research a product they saw in a newspaper. It adds that 70% of those readers then made a purchase. The fact that the research was sponsored by Google will no doubt help make it appear more credible.


  • Reports from several sources say The New York Times will announce its first-ever editorial layoffs this week after fewer people took the paper’s buyout offer than management had hoped. Speculation is that 30 people will lose their jobs. Expect massive news coverage of this relatively small workforce reduction, mainly for its symbolic importance.
  • Speaking of the Times, the paper has a eulogy for the Capital Times, a Wisconsin afternoon institution that closed its print edition last week. The shutdown was announced in February. The Times piece has some interesting tidbits on the former popularity of afternoon dailies, which are declining faster than their morning counterparts. Afternoon papers have been hit particularly hard by online competition.
  • PBS’s Idealab has “Ten Things Journalists Should Know About Surviving In a High-Tech Industry,” including “Jobs are temporary. Friends are forever” and “Nobody has the right qualifications.” This list is right on the money. Journalists considering the shift to online media organizations need to understand that the jobs aren’t lifetime guarantees. You’re on your own, but you can learn a tremendous amount and prosper more than you would as a Guild lifer .



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