Tuesday, February 22, 2005


Jay Rosen at PressThink has some more info and good thoughts on the recent New York Times acquisition of About.com:

... You rarely find New York Times articles in the top ten results of any Google search. The reason is simple: Search works by counting the quantity and quality of links to a page. In most cases, links to the New York Times expire after a week, the url's (web addresses) change, and the content moves behind a pay wall. Bye-bye Google. Bye-bye Google AdSense.

The second life of content, made possible by search, is of critical importance to journalists whose work is on the Web. (That's almost all journalists.) The very phrase "on" the Web tells us that things may land on the surface of the network and not get woven into it. These stand a very poor chance of surviving and having a second life, where there are probably more readers available than in the first.

A PressThink reader, Jakob Nielsen, is a PhD, an engineer, and a student of Web usability; he writes a column on the Web. "Most columns get about 200,000 readers," he observes. "Of these, about 40,000 readers see the column while it's new and featured on the useit.com homepage. In other words, most articles get 80% of their total readership after they're archived." This, he points out, is "a compelling argument for maintaining content archives." (Here's a BBC report about Nielsen.)

In "The Importance of Being Permanent," a previous piece at PressThink, Simon Waldman, head of The Guardian online, wrote: "Web permanence is, I'd argue, one of the main things that journalists can learn from the more successful bloggers. The whole concept of the permalink allows blog posts to become part of the Web in the way that very few traditional media owners stories do. This is why they get linked to and why they often come to the top of search results." (full post)

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