Wednesday, March 12, 2008

how the Web's changed our reading

How has the Internet changed reading habits? A trio of reports out this week offer a few surprises in how the Web has affected readership of blogs, newspapers and yes, the print encyclopedia:
  • Political blogs gain the most attention--and fewer readers than you may think. The latest Harris Interactive poll on the topic notes that only one in five Americans read political blogs regularly, with the vast majority avoiding them or reading them several times a year. Another surprise: The poll found that blog readership rises in older age groups, and that blog readers generally feel that blogs are as credible as mainstream media or more so.
  • For its part, mainstream journalism's shifts due to the Web also yield some surprises, in the Project for Excellence in Journalism's annual State of the News Media report. The study suggests there's more repackaging and less "new news" in circulation, as most sites are recycling news produced elsewhere. As for citizen journalism and blogs, they're reported as less welcoming to outside comments, compared to mainstream media sites.
  • And the print encyclopedia may need a writer for its obituary soon, according to an article in the New York Times this week. But in the meantime, prompted by the rise of Wikipedia among the 10 most-visited sites, encyclopedia publishers like Britannica are updating entries every 20 minutes or expanding their online content with more photographs, links and other features.

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