Undernews is the online report of the Progressive Review, edited by Sam Smith, who covered Washington during all or part of one quarter of America's presidencies and edited alternative journals since 1964. The Review has been on the web since 1995. See main page for full contents

August 1, 2009


Martin Langeveld, Nieman Lab - All generally accepted truths notwithstanding, more than 96 percent of newspaper reading is still done in the print editions, and the online share of the newspaper audience attention is only a bit more than 3 percent. That's my conclusion after I got out my spreadsheets and calculator out again to check the math behind the assumption that the audience for news has shifted from print to the Web in a big way.

. . . NAA reports the daily newspaper online audience as measured by Nielsen in both unique visitors and page views. For 2008, it averaged 3.2 billion online page views per month.

. . . So, U. S. daily newspapers deliver a total of 90.3 billion page impressions per month, print and online. The online share of these page is only 3.5 percent - 96.5 percent of page impressions delivered by newspapers are in print.

Another massage of the numbers, this time in terms of time spent: The NAA's Nielsen numbers say that the average unique visitor to newspaper web sites spends about 45 minutes per month. So with a unique visitor audience that averaged 67.3 million during 2008, newspaper web sites were viewed a total of 3.03 billion minutes per month.

How much time was spent with printed newspapers? NAA doesn't offer a study providing an average, nor can I find one elsewhere, but I'm going to use 25 minutes Monday-Saturday and 35 minutes on Sunday. Multiplying this out, we get 96.5 billion minutes per month spent with printed newspapers.

So in terms of attention span, newspapers hold readers a total of 99.5 billion minutes per month, of which only 3.0 percent is online. This correlates nicely with the page view split.


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