The state of newspaper Web sites

Newspapers are expanding their Web site’s features, but most of the additions have been marginal and have done little to affect the core operation of news online, according to the 2008 edition of “The Use of the Internet by America’s Largest Newspapers,” issued by the Bivings Group earlier this week.

RSS feeds, user comments, social network sharing, PDF editions and user-generated content are on the rise in almost all of the nation’s top 100 newspapers. The number of newspapers that require registration to use their content has declined, which is predictable, but the meat of the report’s summary comes in these sentences:

However, having actually reviewed all these newspaper websites it is hard not to be left with the impression that the sites are being improved incrementally on the margins. Newspapers are focused on improving what they already have, when reinvention may be what is necessary in order for the industry to come out of the current crisis on the other side.

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