A recent study released by Hitwise shows an increase in UK traffic to newspaper websites. It has been reported that print readership of newspapers dropped by a staggering 5million in 15 years. This equates to nearly a 20% decrease. If readership is falling in print editions, what are newspapers doing online to make up for it? What role does social media play? We analysed the major daily national newspapers in the UK to see how well they had incorporated social media into their online editions.
In general, UK national newspapers have recognised the need to include more social aspects on their sites. All of the newspapers allow readers to comment somewhere on the site (although the comments are usually restricted to the «blogs» and opinions sections) and RSS feeds are also available on all sites.
The Telegraph, The Daily Star and The Daily Express allow user profiles, with The Telegraph and the The Daily Star making room for user blogs.
The table below shows what social media implementations UK newspapers included in their online editions.
We checked against social bookmark icons, popular stories (based on number users who visit the page), video, the ability to create your own blog or profile and the number of times each had a story reach the front page of Digg. We have not detailed how well they integrated these options and medias, this table is an general guide to the influence of web2.0 and social media on UK newspapers.
Newspapers Icons* Popular** Video Blog/Profile*** Digg FP
The Independent 139
The Telegraph 183
The Daily Express 0
The Sun 18
The Mirror 14
The Guardian 443
The Daily Mail 309
The Daily Star 1
Financial Times Planned 44
*Social news and bookmarking Icons for easy submission.
**Shows most popular, most emailed or most commented stories on the front page.
Front page content determined by users.
***Has own blog or profile
The Digg front page results were interesting. The Sun, which is the largest selling paper in the UK performed poorly, reaching the front page only 18 times. The tabloid papers, with the exception of The Daily Mail, generally performed poorly, while the broadsheets each reached the Digg front page on hundreds of occasions.
The Guardian was the most successful, reaching the front page 443 times. This probably isn’t that surprising given the fact that most social news sites tend to be more liberal in content.
The number of times that the broadsheets reached the front page might also indicate that those online editions are read by influencers, as the report released last year by Millward Brown suggested.
While we concentrated on looking at the national daily newspapers, local newspapers can also use social media in an innovative and engaging way.
A recent MIT podcast looked at one local newspaper who used a form of collective intelligence to determine what the front page of the newspaper should be.
There’s also no reason why regional newspapers can’t follow the example of KPBS and use social media tools to keep locals informed about breaking news or events. Despite the many debates that newspapers are dying, it appears that the people still want their news from trusted mainstream sources.
We will be continuing our analysis into print media by looking at the impact of social media on UK based magazines in the near future, so subscribe to the RSS feed link below to keep up to date.