Internet threatens US local papers

A major casualty of the growing dominance of the Internet in the U.S. is the local newspaper. This is the finding of new study released by the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.

With the exception of big national newspapers like The New York Times, The Washington Post, USA Today and The Wall Street Journal, regional papers are stagnant or losing ground.

According to the study, large-city newspapers are "poor cousins to their brand-name counterparts. Their site traffic averages 1.2 million unique individuals a month - only about one-seventh of that of brand-name newspaper sites." Mid-sized-city newspaper sites are attracting "substantially fewer unique visitors in April 2007 than they did in April 2006." And the sites of small-city dailies are not growing.

These smaller papers are also losing eyeballs to news aggregator sites like Google Reader, Yahoo News and

Talking to MediaLife about the findings of the study, Thomas E. Patterson, Bradlee Professor of Government and the Press at the School of Government, attributes the phenomenon to the fact that "the internet is not a great respecter of geography." The real history of American media is the history of local media, and TV to some degree diminished the influence of geography, he says. "The internet is doing it even more. When someone in Wichita thinks news, they think local paper or local stations, but they may also think of or"