Accuracy in Media

The newspaper business, which has been in a free fall for several years, received some more bad news this week with the release of numbers showing that cable news sites were beating their own websites in terms of traffic.

NPR’s David Folkenflik has the details: is far and away the leader, with nearly 8.5 million unique U.S. visitors each day. (These estimates come from the audience measurement company ComScore for U.S. visitors for the first three months of 2011.)

Next in line was with 7.4 million unique daily visitors (which benefits from its affiliation with Microsoft’s MSN portal) while the had 5.5 million.

And Fox News, which is known more for its television presence than its website, beat out The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Daily News and USA Today.

This is understandable given the news events of this year — from the uprising in Egypt, the earthquake and tsunami in Japan, and the recent killing of bin Laden — as the cable sites tend to be seen as extensions of their on-air presence and are more likely to have breaking news than a newspaper site.

Newspapers have been trying to adapt to what has now become a 24/7 news cycle by beefing up their websites and hoping that they will actually be able to earn a return from their digital investments. But they face an uphill battle as long as the public sees them as little more than a web edition of the printed page and not as the first place to turn for new and breaking news.

The newspaper model, whether in digital form and especially in print, was not made for this new era of instant information. Only the strong will survive, though there are few of them in that category at the present time.


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