It looks like newspapers are having as much trouble holding their readers’ attention online as well as offline. Time spent on 17 of the 30 most-trafficked newspaper websites fell last month, while the rest of the sites had minimal, if any, gains, according to Nielsen Online data cited by E&P. On average, papers keep their readers for roughly seven minutes. Among the biggest news organizations, NYTimes.com, the number-one website by monthly traffic, is still the leader: It kept readers for an average of 28 minutes per visit last month — but that’s a full minute less than the same month in ’08. The newspaper site that holds readers the least amount of time? NJ.com, which is comprised of The Star-Ledger and five other publications; users spent only 2 1/2 minutes on the site.
Most of the decreases were about a minute compared to last year. But some, like Politico, which was in the midst of the heated presidential campaign last May, lost about four minutes of readers’ time last month, while the site belonging to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer — which is now without a print version — went from 15 minutes on average last year in May to just over 7 minutes last month.
And just to show that readers don’t care if a paper is in bankruptcy, the Minneapolis Star Tribune did the best job of keeping readers glued to their computer screens in May ’09 — time spent on StarTribune.com rose more to than 47 minutes last month, compared with 27 minutes in May 2008. (The paper is looking to emerge from bankruptcy by the fall.)
Staci adds: One variable that may be at work here — ’08 was an election year with raised interest in politics and competitive races. The only place where the ’08 campaign is still going on: Minnesota, where the Senate race outcome has been in court for months. That comp may have hurt Politico and helped StarTribune.com. It will be interesting to see the numbers for June, given the news from Iran.