16 August 2007

creative destruction: an exploratory look at news on the internet

harvard university's joan shorenstein center on the press, politics and public policy, john f. kennedy school of government, has released a fascinating new report:

Executive Summary

This report examines trends in Internet-based news traffic for the purpose of peering into the future of news in America. In light of the continuing migration of Americans to online news, the evolving nature of Web technology, and the limits of our survey of websites, our assessments are necessarily speculative.

Nevertheless, our examination of traffic to 160 news-based websites over a yearlong period revealed noteworthy patterns. The websites of national “brand-name” newspapers are growing, whereas those of many local papers are not. The sites of national “brand-name” television networks are also experiencing increased traffic, as are those of local television and radio stations. However, sites connected to traditional news organizations are growing more slowly than those of the major nontraditional news disseminators, including aggregators, bloggers, and search engines and service providers.

Our evidence suggests that the Internet is redistributing the news audience in a way that is pressuring some traditional news organizations. Product substitution through the Web is particularly threatening to the print media, whose initial advantage as a “first mover” has all but disappeared. The Internet is also a larger threat to local news organizations than to those that are nationally known. Because the Web reduces the influence of geography on people’s choice of a news source, it inherently favors “brand names”—those relatively few news organizations that readily come to mind to Americans everywhere when they go to the Internet for news.

Although the sites of nontraditional news organizations are a threat to traditional news organizations, the latter have strengths they can leverage on the Web. Local news organizations are “brand names” within their communities, which can be used to their advantage. Their offline reach can also be used to drive traffic to their sites. Most important, they have a product—the news—that people want. Ironically, some news organizations do not feature the day’s news prominently on their websites, forgoing their natural advantage.
click the link to download the twenty page report in .pdf.
see also
blogging and the shifting definitions of journalism
and also
central la politics
media wars