By: Jennifer Saba
Aggregator sites — especially Google — really are hurting newspapers as more people increasingly simply skim the news headlines without bothering to click to linked newspaper Web sites, a new report finds.
This alarming trend for newspapers is occurring as more people are getting their news online and through aggregators, according to the report from Outsell Research. In fact, just as many people turn to aggregators to get news first thing in the day as people who crack open a newspaper.
The ?News Users 2009? study conducted by Outsell Research affiliate analyst Ken Doctor found that 19% of people accessed Google, Yahoo, MSN and AOL News for news in 2009, up from 10% in 2006. For newspapers, 19% of those polled went there first, a drop from 23% in 2006.
The report makes a distinction between newspaper print editions and newspaper Web sites. When isolating newspapers online, 6% of those surveyed went to newspaper Web sites first thing in 2009, up from 3% in 2006. Other sites dedicated to specific subjects, such as sports or business, were up 7% in 2009 from 4% in 2006.
The study finds that together, aggregators, newspaper Web sites, and other sites account for 57% of where people turn to first for news, up from 33% in 2006.
When it comes time for people finding local news, newspapers — particularly their Web sites — still shine. The study shows that over three years, newspaper Web sites have more than doubled their share to 17% from 8%, while aggregators grew to 4% from 1% during the same period.
Outsell’s research shows that readers tend to only skim headlines at aggregator sites — specifically Google — for news.
Fully 44% of those polled said they scan headlines on Google ?without accessing the newspaper sites,? the report said. For many users, the report continues, ?headlines are enough and valuable, and that?s been the crux of news wire and news companies? increasing complaints about Google?s ?unfair? use of the news supply line.?
Meanwhile, 30% said they do not use Google to find news stories; 14% use Google to find local newspaper stories instead of using a news site’s search field; and 12% use Google to find local stores than use news site search box.
The study also breaks down respondents — Outsell surveyed 2,787 U.S. consumers — into groups including ?power users? defined as people who check in on the news at least twice a day. Power users tend to get news through digital means, more so than the total pool of respondents. However, power users rely more on newspapers’ print editions.
Outsell found that 39% of the total number of those surveyed report daily newspaper usage in 2009 (down from 49% in 2006). But 41% of power users say they read a daily newspaper (down from 53% in 2006). Fewer power users turn to newspapers first thing in the morning, but ?as news-aware people, though, they?re omnivorous, apparently coming back to newspapers later in their days for depth and breadth,? the report said.
Outsell warned that power users are just as quick to cancel their daily print subscriptions to newspapers: 18% of power users did just that in 2009, while 13% of regular users did the same. ?That?s a big warning sign as newspapers? most valuable readers are abandoning their medium.?