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News Blogs Are Becoming the New Online Newspapers

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Back in December 2007, I observed that "Blogs Are the New Trade Press." Today, it appears that news blogs are becoming the new online newspapers, too.

newspapaers_lrg.jpg According to "The State of the News Media 2009," an annual report by the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism, "nearly one out of every five journalists working for newspapers in 2001 is now gone, and 2009 may be the worst year yet."

It adds, "Perhaps least noticed yet most important, the audience migration to the Internet is now accelerating. The number of Americans who regularly go online for news, by one survey, jumped 19% in the last two years; in 2008 alone traffic to the top 50 news sites rose 27%."

In other words, people are still looking for news, "But audiences now consume news in new ways. They hunt and gather what they want when they want it, use search to comb among destinations and share what they find through a growing network of social media," reported the Project for Excellence in Journalism.

A Pew Research Center Survey in December 2008, found the number of Americans who said they got "most of their national and international news" online increased 67% in the last four years. The presidential election was almost certainly a key factor in the growth. More than a third of Americans said they got most of their campaign news from the Internet in 2008 -- triple the percentage in previous presidential election year.

Although the growth in online news consumption cut across age groups, the growth was fueled in particular by young people. Young voters and activists now rank the Internet as a news source of importance parallel to television, according to the Pew Research Center Survey.

The State of the News Media 2009 added, "And the video site YouTube also became a major delivery system for people to get news posted and recommended by friends and associates, and often from political campaigns. The Obama camp reported more than a billion minutes of campaign-produced material was downloaded from YouTube. And Youtube reported that the Obama campaign's 1800 web videos were viewed 100 million times in total."

According to Pew Research Center data, as of August 2008 the percentage of Americans who went online regularly for news (at least three times a week) was up 19% from two years earlier to nearly four in ten Americans (37%). No other medium was growing as quickly. Most saw audiences flat or declining.

The new numbers put the Web ahead of several other platforms for the first time. In the same August survey, 29% of Americans said they "regularly" watched network nightly news, 22% watched network morning shows and 13% Sunday morning shows.

The percentage of Americans, who relied on the Internet regularly, according to this data, was now roughly similar to that who regularly watched cable television for news (39%). More people still read a newspaper "yesterday" (34%) or listened to news radio (35%) than had viewed news online "yesterday" (29%). But the gap was narrowing.

nk_logo.gif Although the shift in audiences from print newspapers to online newspapers is "old news," Newsknife, which rates the top news sites at Google News, has just reported some "new news" that indicates of source gathering the news is also shifting.

According to an article posted yesterday, Newsknife noticed changes at Google News at the beginning of March that could affect traffic to news sites.

It appears to Newsknife that Google News has significantly increased its listing of blogs. "Compared with our previous findings there's now a real blogstorm," it reported.

Newsknife found 150 blog sites at Google News during March. "The growing number of blogs appearing at Google News seems to offer a simple success formula to news site owners: start blogs for your site and increase your chances of being listed at Google News," it advised.

Many news site owners started doing this a year ago. For example, Newsknife reported on March 1, 2008, a that blogs from the Washington Post, New York Times, Baltimore Sun, USA Today, and Los Angeles Times were starting to appear in Google News.

The topic of news business models for publishers in these changing times was addressed at SES New York last week. I moderated a panel that included (in aphapbetical order): Mark M. Edmiston, Managing Director of AdMedia Partners; Murray Gaylord, Vice President of Marketing and Customer Insights at NYTimes.com; Erik Matlick, CEO of Madison Logic; and Gill Torren, Associate Publisher of SC Magazine at Haymarket Media.

Following the session, Byron Gordon of SEO-PR interviewed Gaylord about the changing media landscape. Gaylord says The New York Times was aware of social media's impact back in the 1990's and has taken steps to integrate such developments into its brand making it the largest news site on the Web.

Gaylord added that NYTimes.com has more than 55 blogs and is integrating thousands of videos and related digital media into to its website, making the NY Times the most shared site on the Web. He went on to highlight a particular New York Times collaboration with Facebook, in advance of President Obama's inauguration.


S. Murray Gaylord, VP Marketing, New York Times, on social media's impact on publishing

What does this mean to readers of this Search Engine Marketing News Blog, which is also one of the more than 4,500 English-language news sources worldwide that have their headlines aggregated by Google News?

It means news search SEO is larger than press release optimization. It's larger than news article optimization. It includes blog post optimization.

And based on the latest Newsknife findings, it appears that news bloggers may be better at optimizaing their posts than traditional newspaper reporters. And this was happenening even before the economy collapsed.

What are the implications? The news industry has to reinvent itself sooner than it thought. And it has to do this at a time when economists are trying to draw the line between a recession and a depression.

In the meantime, marketers need to focus on the news blogs that are becoming the news online newspapers.


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