Newspaper audiences are getting larger overall because of the numbers of people who read their websites but not the printed editions, according to Scarborough Research which has looked at 25 daily newspapers in the US.
And the exclusively online audience is younger and richer “dispelling the common misperception that young people are not engaged by newspaper content; the analysis indicated that newspapers across the board are successfully attracting 18- to 34-year-olds to their websites.”
The survey shows huge variations. The Tampa Tribune has 15% of its audience of its 1.1million audience reading online only. That is more than 160,000 people who do not read the printed paper.
At the other end of the scale the Denver Post and Rocky Mountain News has an online exclusive audience of only 2%. That is under 40,000 web only readers in a total audience of nearly 1.7million.
Scarborough says that newspapers which have nationwide appeal do well online. These include the Washington Post for politics, the Detroit Free Press for automotive industry coverage and the LA Times for its entertainments reporting.
Some papers without the national appeal are also doing well and this is put down to a deep understanding of the distinctiveness of the web as a medium. Key factors are seen as urgency, utility, visual energy and community interactivity.
If there is a key to success emerging from this report it is attitude. Scarborough says:
Interestingly, the most pronounced success factor that emerged from the interviews related to a change of organization/internal perception as opposed to the execution of tactics for the site. Newspaper websites are perceived as an integral and an essential part of the business strategy to grow audience.