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Good News for Newspapers?

Turns out, all this whole World Wide Web thing might be good for newspapers, too.

Newspaper Web sites can increase readership as much as 15 percent, according to a new analysis from Scarborough Research.

Even better, those readers are typically younger and more affluent, the report says.

Scarborough studied 25 local markets with a metric called "Integrated Newspaper Audience," which combines the net reach of a newspaper's seven-day print and seven-day Web site audiences.

For those who assume the age of YouTube, citizen "journalist" bloggers and syndication technology have tempted today's youth away from old school media such as newspapers and their sites, the results might be startling.

The audience that reads a newspaper's site but not its printed version, called the "online exclusive" audience in the report, accounts for 2-15 percent of any of those 25 local papers.

In the larger markets, that number suggests the Internet is bringing hundreds of thousands of readers back to their local newspapers.

The Arizona Republic, for example, reaches 56 percent of the adults in the Phoenix area in print form alone. But include the newspaper's Web sites, azcentral.com and ArizonaRepublic.com, and the number jumps to 59 percent.

And while brand managers walk in circles wondering how to place their products on crowd-sourcing sites such as YouTube, Flickr, and MySpace, newspaper site readership is quietly growing in the demographic advertisers covet most, affluent 18-to-34 year olds.

According to Scarborough, about 30 percent of the adults who visit The Tampa Tribune sites, TampaTrib.com and TBO.com, each week are ages 18-34. By contrast, only 22 percent of the newspaper's printed version readers fit that profile.

And not only are newspaper Web site readers more likely to be in that age range where they haven't quite formed their brand identities, they also have more cash to spend after brand managers manage to bend their malleable senses of self.

While 60 percent of those who've read the print version of the Washington Post in the last month earn more than $75,000 per year, more than 73 percent of the visitors to washingtonpost.com earn as much or more.

Newspapers have faced doom and gloom statistics. Craiglist is killing their classified revenue. And syndication technologies have them wondering where they can put their ads.

But for now, for today at least, there’s some hope for optimism in the industry.