Reuters is reporting today that the number of people reading the blogs of newspapers in the US tripled in the last year.
The study of online habits carried out by Neilsen went on to show that:
Unique visitors to blog sites affiliated with the largest Internet newspapers rose to 3.8 million in December 2006 from 1.2 million viewers a year earlier
So having a blog on your newspaper site, greatly increases traffic to your site, it would appear. And this at a time of plummeting sales for newspapers themselves.
Noted media consultant Jeff Jarvis sounds a note of caution when he says:
Note also that the definition of blogs is up for grabs. Many times, newspapers use blogging software as a means to get up news updates and such; it is the worldâ€™s lightest, easiest, cheapest content management system and itâ€™s a smart use. But not all these blogs link out in conversation. Still, Iâ€™ll bet this helps take the cooties off the word â€˜blogâ€™ in newsrooms.
I think Jeff is correct to point out that not all newspaper blogs allow comment but the smart ones do. Once readers realise some online publications value their opinion, they’ll be very slow to return to ones who don’t.