News Leaders and the Future
We also asked about the way in which online content is managed and distributed.
The news organizations are experimenting with new modes of delivery and display, but overall the survey results suggest they remain fairly traditional in their approach to the Web. Even as consumers are increasingly following individual stories of their own—accessing stories through search and e-mail alerts, clicking directly to the story they want to read—home pages remain essential. Three-quarters of news executives listed homepages as essential—more than double most other options.
Executives listed mobile applications as the next most important element in news delivery, but to a much lesser degree (41% said it was essential). It was followed by e-mail alerts at 33%.
Social media—postings to social media sites—carries some importance as well for executives. Just less than a third (29%) said it was essential. Another 35% said it was very important. There were some differences by medium. About a quarter (23%) of newspaper executives and 32% of broadcasters call these posts to sites like Twitter and Facebook “essential.”
Still, that puts social media ahead of RSS (rated essential by 22%), widgets and other syndication (11%) or YouTube and other video sites (11%).
How Important News Executives Find Different Content Features
Question: “When it comes to displaying or delivering your site’s content to users, how important is each of the following?”
A good deal of where news organizations are putting their emphasis depends on what they know about their audiences and where their traffic comes from.
For these news operations, which are heavily local, the results appear to be somewhat different than for some of the better known national news websites. While outside searches draw some users, it does not make up the majority of Web traffic to news sites, according to the news executives surveyed. Most responded that half or less of their website traffic came from outside searches or external sources. Almost half (48%) of newspaper executives said that a quarter to a half of their website traffic came from outside searches, and 37% of broadcasters said the same. A quarter (24%) of all respondents said that less than a quarter of their website traffic came from external sources.
Percent of Web Traffic from External Searches/Sources