People are Actually Reading Newspapers (Online)

Ragan’s PR Junkie explains readership of online newspapers are actually up, although the number of hard copy readers continues to plummet.

Guess where 40 percent of Web traffic went each month in the third quarter of 2009?

I’ll give a second to consider it …

Give up?

The answer is newspaper Web sites.

“An average 74 million people visited a newspaper Web site each month in the third quarter of 2009, equaling just under 40 percent of all active U.S. Internet users,” MediaPost’s Erik Sass reported. The data, Sass said, comes from the Newspaper Association of America, which cited researched by Nielsen Online.

This marks the highest number of visitors in a quarter, since Nielsen began tracking this information in 2004. MediaPost noted that this milestone is especially encouraging for newspapers, because this was an off-year, meaning there were no big news events like the Olympics or a presidential election.

UPDATE: Online readership may have flourished in the third quarter, but overall sales of hard copy newspapers dropped sharply. Newspaper circulation fell 10 percent, between Jan. 1 and Sept. 30, compared to the same time last year, according to The New York Times.