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Number of newspaper websites in US offering user-generated content doubled up in 2008

Number of newspaper websites in US offering user-generated content doubled up in 2008

The number of newspapers in the US offering some form of user-generated content has doubled up. Overall, 58 per cent of newspapers offered some form of user generated content in 2008 compared to 24 per cent in 2007. In fact, 58 per cent of newspapers allowed for user generated photos in 2008, while 18 per cent accepted video and 15 per cent articles.

The number of newspaper websites allowing users to comment on articles more than doubled in 2008. About 75 per cent of newspapers now accept article comments in some form, compared to 33 per cent in 2007. In 2008, 76 per cent of newspapers offered a most popular view of content in some form (most emailed, most blogged, most commented, etc). This compares to 51 per cent in 2007 and 33 per cent in 2006.

The findings are from the study 'The Use of the Internet by America’s Largest Newspapers' by the Bivings Group.

According to the study, integration with external social bookmarking sites like Digg and del.icio.us has increased dramatically the last few years. Ninety-two per cent of newspapers now include this option compared to only 7 per cent in 2006.

Every newspaper the study examined featured some sort of online advertising. In fact, 100 per cent of newspapers provided some form of contextual advertising, such as Google Adwords. About 43 per cent of newspaper websites used interstitial advertising.

Of the new features examined this year, the study found that 57 per cent of newspapers offer PDF editions, 20 per cent offer chatting options, 96 per cent provide local weather information, and 40 per cent utilise SMS alerts, and 70 per cent offer community event calendars.

The number of websites requiring registration to view most content (free or paid) has decreased from 2007. Now only 11 per cent of websites require registration to view full articles, compared to 29 per cent in 2007 and 23 in 2006.

All of the 100 newspapers in the study provided some type of RSS feed. In 2006, 76 per cent of newspapers offered this feature. In 2007, all but three newspapers offered RSS feeds. This year, all newspaper websites the study examined offered RSS feeds. In addition, 95 per cent of newspapers now offer RSS for different site sections.

The number of newspaper websites that offer podcasts has dropped slightly from last year’s high of 49 per cent. Now only 40 per cent of newspaper websites offer podcasts. Mobile content has increased this year from 53 per cent to 64 per cent, as more users not only want to control the content they receive but the platform in which they see it on.

The number of websites accepting article comments has more than doubled in the last year. In 2007 only 33 per cent of newspapers offered article comments, while now 75 per cent allow readers to comment on at least some news articles.

While most newspaper websites have implemented features like social bookmarking and article comments, only 10 per cent of the websites studied had some sort of social networking or user profile system built into their sites. This number has doubled from 2007 when only 5 per cent of American newspaper websites offered this feature. USA Today pioneered the concept by launching a full on social network as part of their web programme in 2007.

All newspaper websites had some sort of video player on their website. This feature was only used by 61 per cent of newspaper websites when the group first started doing reports in 2006. The largest growth of this feature was between 2006 and 2007 when it went from 61 per cent to 92 per cent.

A new aspect of the 2008 study was a review of whether newspaper websites accepted user generated content or not. For the purposes of the study, the study looked at three major types of content: user generated video, articles, and photos. Of these three content types’ photos were the most widely used in 2008 with 58 per cent of websites offering this feature. Only 18 per cent of websites Offered user generated video and only 15 per cent offered user generated articles.

Since 2007 the number of newspaper websites with reporter blogs has stayed the same. An overwhelming majority of newspaper websites (95 per cent) have continued to feature reporter blogs.Newspapers continue to not use tags to organise content on their websites. In 2008, only nine per cent of newspapers had article tagging on their websites.

When looking at the data over the studies from 2006 to 2008 it became evident that newspapers are opening up their websites to more and more users. With a decrease in registration requirements and increase of interactive features such as social bookmarking and article comments, newspapers are trying to appeal to a wider audience. This indicates a clear change in how American newspapers see the Internet. Now, rather than a threat to readership, the newspaper industry is starting to try to use the Internet to build online communities around their publications.

In 2007, the Bivings Group had predicted a boom in newspapers sites offering social networking features. While the feature did double from 5 per cent to 10 per cent, the group expected much more then a 5 per cent jump. Instead, newspaper websites have finetuned the tools and features that improved users’ ability to access information and share it with a wider audience. Rather than focusing on every Internet trend, newspapers have been focusing on only those that would improve their relationship with their readers and expanding the page views for their articles.

As the study looked at the current state of the American newspaper industry, it appeared that improving websites is a crucial component for newspapers to weather the current economic downturn and continued consumer shift towards online news and classified ads. The group also noted that boosting a newspaper’s web presence was not enough. Even if growth in traffic to newspaper website increased dramatically, it was not yet, and may never be, enough to make up for the hit the industry is taking from declining print advertising revenue.

Lastly, the study also showed that newspapers are trying to improve their web programmes and experimenting with a variety of new features. Newspapers are focused on improving what they already have, when reinvention may be what is necessary in order for the industry to come out of the current crisis on the other side.

Date posted: January 6, 2009 Date modified: May 23, 2018 Total views: 1952