Newspaper Web Sites Draw Record Viewers

A record number of readers visited U.S. online newspaper sites last year, according to figures released on Thursday, confirming the Web as one of the few bright spots for the struggling newspaper industry.

The Newspaper Association of America (NAA) reported the number of unique visitors to newspaper Web sites last year rose more than 6 percent to a monthly average of 60 million. Monthly visits climbed 9 percent in the fourth quarter from a year ago.

It said that during the fourth quarter, 39 percent of all active Web users visited newspaper Web sites, with visits averaging 44 minutes a month.

The figures come as the industry becomes increasingly reliant on advertising revenue from Web sites, with print advertising under pressure, particularly when it comes to classified ad sales.

Publishers are hoping that newspaper online growth will compensate for some of the decline from the print side.

The report, compiled for the NAA by Nielsen Online, took into account both home and work Internet use.

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