Online local news does not replace traditional newsroom sources, study shows

Jun 16, 2011

For those who hoped that online local news sources could take over for shrinking newspaper organizations, the prognosis is grim. According to a new study authored by George Washington University Professor Matthew Hindman and released today by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), online local news is not only failing to fill the gaps once filled by traditional newsrooms, but the report’s data negate the popular assumption that the Internet has expanded the amount of news covered by local online news sources. The study “Less of the Same: The Lack of Local News on the Internet” used data from comScore, an Internet marketing research company, on Web traffic within the 100 largest U.S. broadcast markets.

Key findings from the study include:

• Overwhelmingly, local news sites are online outposts of newspapers and television stations.

• Traffic to local news outlets is relatively small. Only one out of every 200 page views on the Web goes to a local news site. All local sites combined receive just nine monthly minutes per person in the median market.

• Metrics such as monthly audience reach are often falsely inflated (especially when measured by Website cookies), and can be deceptive even when measured accurately. Many citizens view thousands of pages a month each, and page views last less than 30 seconds on average.

• There are few successful online-only local news sites. Three of the four most popular, by the percentage of the local market reached, are print newspapers that have folded (Seattle PI, Kentucky Post, Tucson Citizen).

• Most local news markets on the Web are highly concentrated, with a majority of traffic going to just two or three news organizations.

• National news outlets attract significantly larger audiences than local outlets, though news traffic overall is still only a small fraction of online activity. Users in the average market spend about an hour per person on national news sites each month. This is more than five times what they spend on local .

“The breadth and the market-level granularity of the comScore data makes this study one of the first comprehensive looks at of Internet-based local news,” said Matt Hindman, assistant professor of media and public affairs. “Understanding the landscape online has profound implications for policymakers, journalists, and local self-governance in the 21st century.”

Explore further: Poll: Big Bang a big question for most Americans

Provided by George Washington University

3 /5 (1 vote)
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Saved by smartphones? Sites stay up despite spike

May 03, 2011

(AP) -- News of Osama bin Laden's death caused traffic to increase at popular U.S. news sites. Yet outages and slowdowns were less severe than during major news events in the past, meaning fewer people were stuck staring ...

Recommended for you

Poll: Big Bang a big question for most Americans

2 hours ago

Few Americans question that smoking causes cancer. But they have more skepticism than confidence in global warming, the age of the Earth and evolution and have the most trouble believing a Big Bang created the universe 13.8 ...

Study finds law dramatically curbing need for speed

Apr 18, 2014

Almost seven years have passed since Ontario's street-racing legislation hit the books and, according to one Western researcher, it has succeeded in putting the brakes on the number of convictions and, more importantly, injuries ...

Newlyweds, be careful what you wish for

Apr 17, 2014

A statistical analysis of the gift "fulfillments" at several hundred online wedding gift registries suggests that wedding guests are caught between a rock and a hard place when it comes to buying an appropriate gift for the ...

Can new understanding avert tragedy?

Apr 17, 2014

As a boy growing up in Syracuse, NY, Sol Hsiang ran an experiment for a school project testing whether plants grow better sprinkled with water vs orange juice. Today, 20 years later, he applies complex statistical ...

Creative activities outside work can improve job performance

Apr 16, 2014

Employees who pursue creative activities outside of work may find that these activities boost their performance on the job, according to a new study by San Francisco State University organizational psychologist Kevin Eschleman ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

Poll: Big Bang a big question for most Americans

Few Americans question that smoking causes cancer. But they have more skepticism than confidence in global warming, the age of the Earth and evolution and have the most trouble believing a Big Bang created the universe 13.8 ...

Finnish inventor rethinks design of the axe

(Phys.org) —Finnish inventor Heikki Kärnä is the man behind the Vipukirves Leveraxe, which is a precision tool for splitting firewood. He designed the tool to make the job easier and more efficient, with ...

Making graphene in your kitchen

Graphene has been touted as a wonder material—the world's thinnest substance, but super-strong. Now scientists say it is so easy to make you could produce some in your kitchen.