Steamboat Springs The numbers don't lie. Online newspaper readership is increasing across the country, and that's certainly the case here in Routt County.
I continue to be amazed at the number of residents who tell me they supplement their print edition of the Steamboat Today with the online version. There's also a growing number of readers who no longer pick up a print copy; they get their local news exclusively from Steamboatpilot.com. A recent market survey backs up my anecdotal evidence.
Of 400 respondents to a survey we conducted last fall, 45 percent said they read only the print version of the Today. Almost 50 percent said they read both the online and print editions, and just less than 6 percent said they read the online version only.
Almost one-quarter of the respondents said they visit Steamboatpilot.com daily. Seventeen percent visit three or four times a week, and 11 percent visit the site weekly. Almost half of the people who said they visit the site at least monthly report that one other member of their household also is a frequent user of Steamboatpilot.com.
I suppose none of these statistics should be too surprising. The Internet plays an important part in many of our lives. We value its ability to provide the information we want, when we want it and how we want it. If a Web site fails to deliver what we're looking for, we simply move on to the next one. Throughout time, we develop Internet-surfing habits that lead us from one favorite site to the next. But we're also finicky. If we don't find something new or exciting, we push on.
For example: I'm a sports fan, and I usually check in with ESPN.com several times a day for sports news. If I visit the site at 1 p.m. and the featured stories are the same ones that were on ESPN.com at 9 a.m., I either close my Internet browser or move on to another Web site. I've already seen what is there, so there's nothing to keep me interested.
I assume visitors to Steamboatpilot.com behave much the same way, with one notable difference - many readers enjoy viewing the comments other users post to the bottom of our stories. Beyond that, it's up to me and my staff to keep the content on our site fresh, so visitors who log on multiple times a day find new stories, photos and other features to capture their interest.
We often fail to live up to that goal. But aided by the content-sharing agreements we now have in place with several other newspapers (see my From the Editor column from March 13 for more about those agreements), we suddenly have a wealth of new, fresh content we can post to our site. Just like my belief that readers are interested in reading about other mountain communities in our print edition, I imagine you would be happy to see those articles on our Web site as well.
Are my assumptions correct? What do you want to see on Steamboatpilot.com in addition to more local news stories produced by our reporters?
I want to make the newspaper's Web site a must-stop Internet destination for residents. Your feedback is welcome and encouraged. I can be reached at (970) 871-4221 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
From the Editor appears Thursdays in the Steamboat Today.