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As they shrink, are local newspapers protecting their “iron core” of local government coverage? This paper says no
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Oct. 1, 2015, 2:46 p.m.
Mobile & Apps
LINK: www.nytimes.com  ➚   |   Posted by: Justin Ellis   |   October 1, 2015

Two reminders on Thursday that publishers face an daunting battle against ad blocking technology. First, The New York Times released its analysis of homepage loading speeds for the top 50 mobile news sites, including CNN, The Guardian, The Washington Post, The Atlantic, Gawker, BuzzFeed, Elite Daily, and the Times itself.

Not surprisingly, there’s a sharp difference in how fast a site loads if the ads are blocked or not:

We measured the mix of advertising and editorial on the mobile home pages of the top 50 news websites — including ours — and found that more than half of all data came from ads and other content filtered by ad blockers.

Our neighbors across the Charles River at Boston.com performed the worst: 8.1 seconds to load editorial content and a whopping 30.8 seconds to load advertising. The Times estimates visiting the homepage of Boston.com once a day for a month would cost $9.50 in data usage on an average American cell plan. (Boston.com’s upscale sibling, BostonGlobe.com, took a more reasonable 1.8 seconds to load ads and 4.3 seconds for editorial.)

The Times’ tests are a good example of why many publishers are anxious about the long-term consequences of ad blocking on their business model.

Reactions to the analysis were mixed, with Boston.com taking its lumps for its poor performance, while others saw the tests as another wakeup call to media companies.

Meanwhile, my hometown newspaper, the Star Tribune, has introduced its own ad-blocking counter measure:

The Star Tribune joins other newspapers like The Washington Post in trying to find a way to keep ad blockers at bay by essentially denying readers entrance to the site. Others like The Atlantic and The Guardian give readers a gentle nudge to find other ways of supporting their journalism.

Needless to say, some readers of the Star Tribune were unhappy with the paper’s decision:

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As they shrink, are local newspapers protecting their “iron core” of local government coverage? This paper says no
Newspapers have all had to make cuts. But it doesn’t look like they’ve favored the beats that are most important to democracy — watchdog coverage of local governments — over other kinds of news.
Keep your pants on, everyone (and quit defending the male journalists who don’t)
Plus: The SacBee wants those sweet, sweet clicks, the Dallas News Guild wins its vote to unionize, and “when bison merit 80% of the airtime afforded to Asian American history, it calls into question not only the leadership of public television but also who gets to tell these stories, and why.”
How the Minneapolis Star Tribune made the best of a canceled state fair
Carve-your-own butter sculptures, Minnesota trivia, and cheese curd-flavored chapstick were among the Star Tribune’s virtual offerings. (Replicating the llama costume contest proved a bit too difficult.)