Despite decreasing newspaper readership, many newspaper Web sites are showing an increase in the number of unique visitors, according to the most recent data from Nielsen Online. The trend seems to buck advertisers’ growing impression that news sites are no longer profitable ventures, with 18 of the 30 most popular sites generating noticeable increases. Though readership was down for NYTimes.com, The Boston Globe, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and the New York Post, LA Times saw a 66 percent increase, and SFGate, the online site for the San Francisco Chronicle, posted an increase of 19 percent.
SFGate’s VP for Digital Media told BayNewser she attributes the increase to a homepage redesign and the site’s decision to feature links to other news sites and blogs like TMZ.com:
We see it as providing a service to our readers…They can depend on us instead of having to go to multiple sources for what is going on in the Bay Area.
But AP’s proposed licensing agreement for link use may hurt this upward trend, leaving news sites scrambling to generate readership and convince advertisers they are worthy investments. Or they could launch pay walls and hope subscriptions from readers compensate for decreased ad revenue as their readers go to the other sites they wanted to visit in the first place.