December 4th, 2008
The New York Times today launched “Times Extra,” which is an alternate front page that links to stories that are NOT produced by the Times.
In the past few months, more and more mainstream media outlets have warmed up to the idea of linking to material outside their own sites. This in effect could turn old media, which is used to being the source of news, into news aggregators, at least sort of like the Drudge Report. The idea behind it is that although you jettison your readers off to other material, they will keep coming back to your site because you are a one-stop shop.
The Dallas Morning News has also waded into this by hand-picking opinion pieces from around the Web and posting them on their opinion page. The material is posted along side their own work — they often even play up material from outside the Morning News above their own.
It makes for a much better user experience, and it is likely to make their opinion page a destination site for people who are looking for smartly chosen opinion pieces from around the Web.
If you maintain a hand-chosen Twitter account (as opposed to dumping RSS onto Twitter) for your news organization, you should also link to outside material. Colonel Tribune and the @statesman do it as a matter of practice. Why not be the place to go to for news, no matter where it comes from?
By new media standards, old media has been very slow to pick up on this idea. Even the Times, which is ahead of most mainstream media in trying Times Extra, isn’t making it the regular home page — users have to click on a tab to get to it. (To find it, click on “Try our extra home page” tab near the top of the paper’s standard home page).
The open exchange of links is what drives information on most of the Web, outside of mainstream media. We doubt this idea will still be embraced at least right away by all in the old media — after all, it is hard for some to believe that sending folks away from your site is a good thing. It’s hard to argue with the numbers, though …
Check out who is on top of the Nielsen Online ratings for news sites for February 2008:
The following is data from Nielsen Online on the top 30 sites in the “News” category based on February 2008 traffic. This data takes into account U.S. home and work Internet usage, and it shows both unique visitors to each brand or channel and sessions per person. For more information about the sourcing of this data, please visit www.netratings.com.
Brand or channel; sessions per person; unique audience (000)1. drudgereport.com; 19.9; 3,4452. Daily Kos; 8.9; 1,2043. Fox News Digital Network; 8.3; 10,177
4. CNN Digital Network; 7.9; 37,1815. AOL News; 7.7; 21,1196. Yahoo! News; 7.4; 35,2747. MSNBC Digital Network; 6.4; 34,0138. ksl.com; 6.0; 7969. Breitbart.com; 5.3; 2,67410. Google News; 5.3; 12,05011. Gannett Newspapers and Newspaper Division; 5.1; 13,99812. NYTimes.com; 4.9; 18,97513. Netscape; 4.8; 2,70914. Townhall.com; 4.7; 1,15215. Media General Newspapers; 4.6; 1,76116. GTGI Network 4.5; 1,34517. Star Tribune; 4.3; 2,10818. TWC News Websites; 4.1; 84019. NewsMax.com; 4.0; 4,05420. Zwire; 3.9; 1,08921. Cox Newspapers; 3.9; 5,19722. washingtonpost.com; 3.8; 10,44123. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel; 3.8; 1,25924. The Buffalo News^; 3.7; 50225. Pittsburgh Post-Gazette; 3.6; 1,47226. MediaNews Group Newspapers; 3.5; 5,85027. USATODAY.com; 3.5; 10,57128. WorldNow 3.5; 10,58829. IB Websites; 3.4; 7,56530. St. Louis Post Dispatch; 3.4; 1,022