News organizations that are producing and offering online products include all forms of media from newspapers to magazines to broadcast productions. Several studies and surveys performed by professional and educational institutions offer us a glimpse into the growth of online journalism.
More than 500 North American dailies have launched online products as of March 31, 1997, including Web sites and partnerships with consumer services, according to figures from the Newspaper Association of America. It's not just the major dailies getting into the action either. More than 60 percent of daily newspapers on the Web have a circulation under 30,000, and 95 of the bottom 100 newspapers by circulation have online products.
Dozens of U.S. television stations and all major networks offer Web sites, although not all include news content. Many cable companies have created a Web presence as well.
According to the latest figures from Editor and Publisher's Interactive Online Database, there is a total of 2,445 online newspapers on the World Wide Web. Of those, 1,484 are daily newspapers, and 687 are weekly. Newspapers from the United States account for 1,591, while 139 are Canadian.
An annual survey by Professor Steven Sander Ross of the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism and Don Middleberg of Middleberg & Associates confirms a rapid growth in online publishing. Results from the 1996 study show that 30 percent of magazines distribute their product electronically, up from 26 percent a year before. As for future plans, 30 percent of newspapers now have no plans to go on line, which is down from 51 percent the year before.
The Ross-Middleberg study also examined the question of who, if anyone, is doing the writing for the online publications. Of those writers and editors who responded to the survey, 44 percent writes copy that ends up on its own publication's online service, another 6 percent freelance for other organizations' sites, but only a handful (1 percent of the sample) write exclusively for online services.
The numbers reveal that a small portion of the content for online news products is original and exclusive to the online service. In other words, the new and compelling technology is used more as a distribution device than as a new medium.
For detailed statistics on the studies mentioned above, you are invited to link directly to the sources.