Researcher finds 36-hour half-life for online news

July 19, 2006

As television news departments expand their Web offerings, news directors and station Web managers may do well to keep the findings of a research paper in mind as they organize and update their sites: half of all visitors reading a news article on the Internet will have done so within the first 36 hours it’s online.

Based on a paper in the June edition of the Journal of the American Physical Society, The New York Times reported Monday that the research conclusions should give Web journalists a sense of hope. Quoting Albert-László Barabási from the University of Notre Dame, the author of “The Dynamics of Information Access on the Web,” the newspaper reported the findings can be looked at one of two ways: either “only 36 hours is the typical half-life” of an online story or “I would have expected it to be shorter.”

Barabási’s research also uncovered that online news consumers read in bursts throughout the day. Thus, a story that might be old to some will be new to others who have been away from the Internet for awhile.

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