CINCINNATI (TDB) -- Harvard University has studied news site traffic on the Web and the findings are grim for most of the nation's big city newspapers, which appear to be attracting fewer visitors this year than last. They are losing audience share to blogs, aggregators, major national news sites such as the Wall Street Journal, Google and Yahoo. Local TV Websites also have rising trendlines. The report is by the Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy. It is called Creative Destruction, and it is must read because it covers the entire spread of Web-based news sources.
This part has the worst tidings for the metro dailies:
"The Websites of newspapers in mid-sized cities such as Baltimore, Denver, Seattle and Minneapolis attract considerable traffic. The traffic level is skewed, however, by the San Francisco Chronicle and Seattle Post-Intelligencer sites, each of which averages about 2 million unique monthly visitors. When the two sites are excluded, the average number of unique monthly visitors to mid-sized city newspaper sites falls to roughly 665,000.
"Midsized-city newspaper sites are not growing. On average, whether the San Francisco or Seattle newspapers are included or not, they attracted substantially fewer unique visitors in April 2007 than they did in April 2006. The decline is not attributable to a steep drop at one or two sites. Of the nine sites included in the average, two had modest growth, one had flat growth, and six had negative growth."
The report is 20 pages long. It has interesting information about blog traffic, and also TV station Websites, which are growing while the dailies fall. Obviously, even the biggest blogs don't yet get the traffic of a mid-sized daily's site. But the growth graphs are headed up.