How many people read their newspapers online?

My name is Shaun and I’m a newspaper whore.

There I’ve said it. I’ve been addicted to them for as long as I can remember, flirting with each one in turn until the day came when I discovered I’d bought them all.

I pity the shellshocked look on the face of my poor, long suffering wife who pointed out how I actually used to spend more on gobbling up the tabloids and broadsheets than groceries.

Sunday was always the worst.

Supplements, business sections, magazines and a higher cover price. Confused frowns from bleary eyed newsagents were a common sight.

I’d come up with all sorts of excuses, no, reasons why I had to have them.

The most obvious was “it’s my job” followed by the “I need to keep in touch”.

But slowly, surely, I’m being weaned off them by their online versions.

Sure, only a handful have their new content up on site at 5am.

Once the morning rush is over, though, you can get clicking aplenty. All the news that’s fit to print, or in this case, upload.

It’s no coincidence that this blog has all the newspapers linked in the left hand sidebar. It makes it easy for me – and others I’m told – to find them in one place.

With falling newspaper sales all around, I did on occasion feel guilty about turning to this new medium to slake my thirst for news, as if betraying my former colleagues.

But nothing could be further from the truth.

Because newspaper websites are going from strength to strength, adapting, continuing an evolution for our newspapers that has been developing for hundreds of years.

The excellent My Trade by Andrew Marr charts much of this history. But as new delivery systems develop apace, he could well do with updating a few chapters.

Over at Guardian Unlimited, they have been celebrating a record month that has seen it receive 18.4 million (yes, million) unique users in the month of October alone.

That is up a staggering 44% year on year, and dwarves sales of the actual newspaper.

The figure – 18,407,758 – is also up 10% on the previous month, vindication if any is needed of The Scott Trust’s recent huge investment in the web platform which now boast fully functional radio and TV studio and beefed up operations centre and new staff.

And they are not alone.

The Mail Online team recorded 108,289,340 page impressions from more than 13,500,000 unique users – which saw a 15% leap from September

While, still developing its own web presence, was also up 4.4% to 11,108,025 – and the first time it has ever had more than 100m page views at 102,028,293.

Admittedly, these figures recorded by ABCe do not just take into account UK readers, but global audience, and may account in part for the dominance of The Guardian who has a strengthened its base in the US where it has a significant, dedicated staff.

In fact, more than 60% of its unique users hail from outside the UK.

And maybe why Rupert Murdoch was so keen to get in on the act over at the Wall Street Journal, giving him a huge area to exploit.

Back in Blighty, the Sun editor Rebekah Wade was enthusing about the main paper and its Online team finally becoming fully integrated – a huge development for Murdoch’s jewel in the crown.

Not a moment too soon, it would seem.

Because unlike its super soaraway rivals rivals, the Sun Online suffered a 16% drop month on month, falling under 10 million unique users to 9,194,006.

Again, most are readers viewing from abroad, just 4,561,777 are in the UK.

So clearly with newspaper sales down and online visitors up – with the lion’s share coming from abroad – editors will have to think that bit smarter about how they make their products work.

The good news is there remains a growing audience to tap into. The bad news is they are even more fickle than ever to retain.

Unless, of course, they are simply news junkies like me.

Categories: Blogs, Media philosophy & trends

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