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Readers' response to online newspapers
The age of the internet has revolutionized the methods of communication and information exchange. A great deal has changed in the last decade with the information technology explosion. With more accessibility and economical port charges internet has made its presence felt in a number of avenues ranging from corporate desks to common households. This has enabled speedy communication procedures such as email, conferencing, instant messaging, web telephony, video conferencing and so on. Information that was hitherto difficult to access and obtain suddenly became available a click away. With increased usage and application of the internet and other virtual private networks (VPN), information was readily and easily available on the desktop. A user had little or practically no need to leave the confines of his home or work place to source material that was otherwise complex to access, store and retrieve.
Thus began the era of information explosion combined with internet liberalization. This has also promoted a great deal of news proliferation on the internet. Large newspapers such as the Washington Post, the Tribune and so on have hosted web sites that flash daily news papers from their publication stables. Thus began the culture of online newspaper readership that made 'news reading on the go' possible for internet users across the globe. This had a great impact on media and mass communication as the level of penetration of the internet was far superior in number and manner when compared to the daily newspaper.
With the liberalization and proliferation of the internet, the penetration of online newspapers has soared sky high. On May 2003, an independent media audit initiated by the website 'townnews.com' reported a huge growth in online newspaper readership. According to statistics released by the audit, the online readership seems to have gained more penetration that the printed newspaper signifying a possible outranking of the market share of conventional newspapers. It pegged the data at more than half of the printed newspaper circulation figures. It is estimated that with this kind of sky rocketing rise in the online news readership, the conventional newspaper would lose out its relevance and very existence in a very short period of time.
The alarming rate of online readership is attributed to the work patterns and the demandingly tight schedule of an average individual. With the passing day, there is a marathon collection of tasks that need to be accomplished by individuals within a very short span of time. This has indeed put a cap on the amount of time a person spends under the head of leisure. Mounting pressure has thus made the average working individual to club his daily routines at the ever buzzing workplace. This has given birth to online newspaper reading which can be done with the click of the mouse in the confines of the workplace.
Coincidentally, the Newspaper Association of America reported that "online newspapers ate the No. 1 source of local news and information online." The open and alarming declaration is nothing more than a factual indication that more and more people rely on the internet for sourcing news whether it is related to business, politics, social aspects, stocks and shares, logistics, technology, classifieds and so on. Primary beliefs indicate that online newspapers are accessible at any time and at any place without any hassles whatsoever. Thus internet has become a broad medium for not mere exchange of data and communication but also a platform for sourcing up-to-date news related information.
Is it becoming increasingly easy and feasible to access newspapers and other news material on the internet without having to consider the otherwise nasty hindrances of time, place and most of all accessibility? The online newspaper industry is here to stay. It is a phenomenon that is well on its way to monopolize the method of sourcing real time information. It is also an avenue to ground breaking business ventures and needless to mention stiff and hard pitted competition among the various players involved in the industry. The ball has been set to roll and the operations of business are well on track. (Demosite: Townnews.com - Page I)
With the heavy penetration and the liberal usage of the internet, there have been a good number of milestones that have taken place worth being regarded as historic and highly significant. The growth of internet usage and the user base in itself is very significant and remarkable. Despite the burst of the dot com bubble, internet usage and user base across the world has surged upwards. In the year 2002 alone the estimated growth in user base was pegged at 241.4 million which is a whopping 18%. Furthermore usage itself has peaked a great deal. The spurt in online time and usage is a clear indication that net surfers across the world are accessing a wide range of information and media that include news reading and information sourcing.
A report published by Media Audit in May 2003 indicated that about eighty five large markets of the United States of America, newspapers reach one-third of their audience through online products. It is estimated that penetration of online newspapers is about 20% in those markets. Penetration of printed newspapers in those markets account for a clear 40-45%. This means that the penetration of online newspapers is tagged at half that of the penetration of printed newspapers. The internet has dealt a significant blow to the conventional newspapers' cash cow of advertising.
The Newspaper Association of America (NAA) quoted that the drop in employment advertising in the first quarter of the year 2003 was extremely severe, tagged at 38.4%, that it tremendously upset gains in all other newspaper classified categories. According the Newspaper Association of America (NAA), Auto classifieds went up by 4.7%, real estate classifieds zoomed up by 2.8% and all other classifieds were up by 6.6%. The overall classified category however, was down by a hefty 13.6% owing to the downfall in the employment figures. Several experts do agree that a great deal of the employment advertising decline was caused due to the Internet.
Real estate advertising is another area that is soon to be monopolized by the internet. In truth, this was an avenue which has been a long standing source of revenue to the conventional newspaper market. In a private study conducted and released by the National Association of Realtors (NAR) to its members, it has been quoted that "the Internet has caught up with newspapers as a preferred method of searching for homes by homebuyers." An independent news reporting agency, the Reality Times in its review quoted that "Forty-one percent of homebuyers used the Internet as an information source, neck and neck with newspapers for the first time in history. Eight percent of homebuyers first learned about the home they purchased using the Internet, while seven percent found the home they purchased through newspapers." This not only indicates the usage of the internet as a commercial medium, it drives home the fact that the internet is becoming a rapid pacing competition that is a force to reckon with. (Demosite: Townnews.com - Page II) survey indicates that as of May 1, 2002, more than 1300 online newspapers were launched. The figure total of the world is staggering. Globally, there are more than 5000 daily, weekly and other newspapers online. It is estimated that 62% of users who look for local news items and articles use the internet to locate them. It has also been pointed out that online newspapers attract more visitors than any other local media site in the United States of America. An independent survey indicates that those net users who access online newspaper sites are more likely to have high speed internet connections and use the net twice as much as any average net users. More than half of these users access the internet from home on a daily basis. It is also estimated that more than 50% of online newspaper readers access the internet five days in a week during their work hours as compared to 24% of general internet users.
When compared to general internet audience, online newspaper readers are younger, more affluent and better educated. A notable fact here is that nearly eight out of every ten online newspaper readers purchased material from the net compared to about half of the general internet users online. This indicates the popularity of those sites and the dominant presence of online newspapers on the internet as an all encompassing solution to sourcing quicker and better information at any time from any place merely by a few clicks. Another independent study indicated that Sixty-five percent of local and national marketers mentioned newspaper Web sites as being well-organized and resourceful at meeting marketing goals and objectives more than any other local online choice.
Seventy-five percent of advertisers in general believed that the online newspaper websites' advertising was…