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UNDERNEWS

Undernews is the online report of the Progressive Review, edited by Sam Smith, who covered Washington during all or part of ten of America's presidencies and who has edited alternative journals since 1964. The Review, which has been on the web since 1995, is now published from Freeport, Maine. We get over 5 million article visits a year. See prorev.com for full contents of our site

March 20, 2010

ONLINE READERS DON'T WANT TO PAY

WASHINGTON POST - Getting people to pay for news online at this point would be "like trying to force butterflies back into their cocoons," a new consumer survey suggests.

That was one of several bleak headlines in the Project for Excellence in Journalism's annual assessment of the state of the news industry, released Sunday.

The project's report contained an extensive look at habits of the estimated six in 10 Americans who say they get at least some news online during a typical day. On average, each person spends three minutes and four seconds per visit to a news site.

About 35 percent of online news consumers said they have a favorite site that they check each day. The others are essentially free agents, the project said. Even among those who have their favorites, only 19 percent said they would be willing to pay for news online - including those who already do.

There's little brand loyalty: 82 percent of people with preferred news sites said they'd look elsewhere if their favorites start demanding payment.

"If we move to some pay system, that shift is going to have to surmount significant consumer resistance," said Tom Rosenstiel, director of the project, part of the Pew Research Center.

Last year, online advertising saw its first decline since 2002, according to the research firm eMarketer. Four of five Americans surveyed told the project that they never or hardly ever click on ads.

Despite a lot of choices, traffic on news sites tends to be concentrated on the biggest - Yahoo, MSNBC, CNN, AOL and The New York Times.

"There was this view that we're retreating into our own world of niche sites and that's not true," Rosenstiel said.


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