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Study reveals why most local news sites fail

A new study claims to have learned why most local news websites fail. Online news sites have failed to take ownership of the images that are most important to online news consumers—whether it’s top headlines, traffic, weather, sports, deeper analysis, local events or some other offering.

Called “Challenges in News Migration to Digital Media,” the study was conducted by the research firm, knowDigital, based in Lafayette Hill, PA.

“These sites would benefit,” knowDigital president Sam Milkman said, “from a greater understanding of the images that matter most to their target consumers — and greater focus on these attributes both on the sites themselves and in how they are marketed.”

Milkman authored the study.

The study included insights on how traditional news media outlets must build, mold and image their enterprises into profitable digital businesses going forward. The study is part of an ongoing effort by knowDigital to provide research-based “Quick Looks” at various new media issues of interest by conducting interviews and surveys with “real” consumers.

Among the study’s key findings are that most online news sites are not getting credit for the images that matter most to the online news consumer. Focusing on page views as the single metric to evaluate success appears misguided at this stage in the development of this category, the study said. Page views statistics provide no measure of the level of consumer engagement in any particular page, or whether those views help or hurt a site’s long-term brand image.

Simply reformatting or repurposing existing content incorrectly assumes that consumers want the same content in these digital environments as they do on TV or in print, it said. Consumers view online news sites as utilities, lacking entertaining design and production elements.

Users have not yet formed a deep connection with overall news sites, therefore their ability to form a bond with another vertical or sub-brand within these sites is very limited.

A streaming video presentation and the summary report from the study are available for free at the company’s website,