More go online regularly for news

The Project for Excellence in Journalism’s State of the News Media 2008 helps confirm what many have suspected — that the Web is becoming an increasingly important source for news and information.

In late 2007, more than 7 in 10 Americans (71%) said they went online for news, the same number reported in 2002, according to the Pew Internet & American Life Project. But the number who reported going online more regularly has grown considerably. In the October to December survey, 37% went online yesterday for news, up from the 30% who did so at the same time in 2005 and the 26% who did so in 2002. This is the highest number recorded by the Pew Internet project.

Not only are people logging on to news more frequently, the report also suggests they are watching more news video online:

According to an Online Publishers Association study, 14% of video users said they watched online video news on a daily basis, up from 5 percent a year ago. [Another] study, from advertising.com, found that news was the leading category (62%), followed by movie trailers (38%) and music videos (36%).

The report indicates that one of the most important changes for 2007 is the way in which the audience finds news and information online. According to Advertising Age:

By 2007, only 43% arrived at Web sites via their front pages, the magazine reported. Instead, nearly 57% report first making contact with a Web site by clicking to a page buried deep inside.

Many news organizations have now realized that much of their traffic comes through search engines and blogs, not through the home page. On the flip side, more news sites are getting more comfortable with the idea of linking to outside content — creating a kind of symbiotic relationship in which sites drive traffic to each other.

The biggest challenge for online continues to be the difficulty of making money despite the growing audience.

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