Are Long-Distance Users an Inconvenient Truth? Profiling U.S. Newspapers' Online Readership in the Dual-Geographic Market

Hsiang Iris Chyi, George Sylvie

Abstract


In response to the newspaper crisis, U.S. newspapers are seeking new business models for their online operation, but often ignore non-local readers who constitute a non-traditional niche audience with market potential. This study attempts to expand the understanding of the U.S. online newspaper readership in the dual-geographic market by empirically comparing local and long-distance users on demographic characteristics, online behavior, and satisfaction level with the newspaper site. Utilizing a dataset containing 28 newspaper Web sites' 25,964 visitors, this study performed a large-scale, in-depth analysis of online newspapers' long-distance readership unseen in previous research. Results show that more than one fourth of these newspaper sites' online users reside outside the print market. Most long-distance users have personal ties with the geographic area associated with the newspaper. Compared with local users, long-distance users tend to be male, older, better educated, and with a higher income. They are more likely to obtain local sports information from the site, but are less likely to visit the classifieds areas of the site. They also tend to be more loyal to and satisfied with the newspaper site. Newspapers should perceive long-distance users as a potential audience segment rather than an inconvenient truth when developing content, pricing, and marketing strategies.

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