Another major survey shows readership habits are shifting, as newspaper readers increasingly pass over the paper to get their news online. 

According to the Nielsen//NetRatings Summer 2005 survey, 21 percent of respondents now primarily read newspaper content online. The research focused exclusively on Internet users who consume newspapers and excluded online users who obtain their news from other online news and information sources.

While the 21 percent figure is certainly significant, the vast majority, 72 percent, of online users who consume newspapers primarily still access good old fashioned print editions. Seven percent of online users who consume newspapers split their time evenly between the online and offline editions.

“A significant percentage of newspaper readers have transferred their preference from print to online editions,” said Gerry Davidson, senior media analyst, Nielsen//NetRatings. “Accordingly, many online editions now feature original content and have developed an online strategy that includes online message boards and editorial blogs, which leverage the medium’s strengths of interactivity and immediacy.”

Online/Offline Newspaper Consumption Breakdown

Primarily Print Newspaper Reading: 72%

Primarily Online Newspaper Reading: 21%

Split Between Print & Online Newspaper Reading: 7%

A slightly greater proportion of male readers than female readers access their newspapers primarily online. Men who primarily read online newspapers make up 53 percent of online readers while women comprise 47 percent. In comparison, women make up 57 percent of those who read newspapers primarily in print. led the top five online newspapers with an audience of 11.3 million unique visitors during May 2005, followed by with 9.2 million readers and with 7.4 million viewers (see Table 2). Rounding out the top five were with 3.8 million and San Francisco Chronicle ( with 3.4 million unique visitors.

“Not surprisingly, the top online newspapers tend to be located in metropolitan cities where both population and broadband access rates are higher, which correlates with greater Web page consumption,” said Davidson.