June 23rd, 2006

Digg vs. The New York Times

by

In a review of Digg v3, TechCrunch declares that Digg is challenging The New York Times online in terms of page views. As evidence, Mike references an Alexaholic graph. Let’s look at the actual numbers.

According to TechCrunch, Digg has 800,000 daily unique visitors and 9 million page daily views. Here are the NYTimes.com traffic stats:

NYTimes Traffic Stats

If you extrapolate Digg’s daily page views to about 270 million monthly page views, it is definitely within striking distance of the Times. It’s also possible that Digg could rival The Times in terms of unique visitors in the not too distant future — it’s already half way there based on daily uniques.

To me, the interesting question is how Digg will rival The New York Times as a source of the most important news of the day. The Digg community has a reputation for some indiosyncratic choices, but certainly on technology, Digg has a breadth of “coverage” that already exceeds that of the Times.

The real test will be on World & Business News — I go to the NYT site every day because I want to know that the Iraqi government has declared a state of emergency, that the SEC is examing a large hedge fund, and that in Congo hunger and disease are eroding democracy.

Can Digg users be counted on to surface the most important global stories (important by some reasonable measure), or will they just obsess over weird stuff?

Digg could very well become an unrivaled daily news source. But as to the source of Digg’s World news, Digg users will still be sitting in comfy chairs while other people put on body armor to report from war zones. Digg (and every news filter for that matter) is a leech on every news gatherer, from blogger journalists to institutional journalists.

I’m not saying that the news filtering role in isn’t absolutely critical in getting your arms around the bubble of content online. But as to news gathering, especially of world news, I hope that there is still an economically viable way to fund the reporting from Congo if Digg further erodes the newspaper business model.

UPDATE

Rob Hyndman shines a spotlight on the key business question for Digg vs. the NYT — Which audience is more valuable to advertisers?

I’ve banged this drum before with Audiences Are NOT Created Equal.

It would be interesting to see some audience research from Digg to put some meat on those unique visitor bones.

Comments (55 Responses so far)

  1. stats show the Times’ traffic going up a bit since its redesign. Where’s the truth between server log files, Alexa and comScore? Probably somewhere in between. In a separate post, she also points to analyses byScott Karp and Mike Arrington, who say the traffic of Digg is now within striking distance of the Times. Of course, Digg is not a content originator like the Times, it’s an aggregator. But the idea of Digg — a democratized community that determines story rank

  2. “Digg users will still be sitting in comfy chairs while other people put on body armor to report from war zones. Digg (and every news filter for that matter) is a leech on every news gatherer, from blogger journalists to institutional journalists.” (Publishing 2.0) This misses the point. First, Digg is a global community where people living in “war zones” can participate. Second, Digg is not a leech on news gatherers; Digg helps provide visibility for stories that might not get noticed otherwise. Over the

  3. (270 millions de pages vues contre 340 pour NYTimes.com, mais le trafic du site doublerait tous les deux mois) : “Et ce qui est le plus incroyable, c’est qu’ils font tout cela avec seulement 15 employés.” (A lire également sur le sujet : le post de”Publishing 2.0″, de Journalism.co.uk et de Read/Write Web) posted by Benoit Raphael at 6:12 PM 0 comments links to this post

  4. These include world, business (yay!), and entertainment news. Digg will also have a new category for videos. Digg surpassed Slashdot (and Netscape) months ago in terms of traffic. Now that it is expanding to more general news, isNYTimes.com next?

  5. These include world, business (yay!), and entertainment news. Digg will also have a new category for videos. Digg surpassed Slashdot (and Netscape) months ago in terms of traffic. Now that it is expanding to more general news, isNYTimes.com next?

  6. TechCrunch は「digg.com は pageview で New York Times に挑もうとしている」と伝えている。 これに対して慎重派からはさまざまな指摘が出ている。Scott Carp はPublishing 2.0 で「問題は pageview ではなく記事の信頼度だ」という割とありきたりで面白味のない反論を書いているが、面白かったのは Rob Hyndman が指摘した「digg.com ユーザ層と New York Times

  7. t interfere editorially. They just have anchors that flesh out the stories that lots of people want to have fleshed out. I give the new Netscape a big thumbs up. It’s smart. Of course, Digg, whose traffic now rivals the NYTCO will have an answer very shortly. Let the races begin. COMMENTS (0) VOTE (0) EMAIL THIS BLOG THIS BOOKMARK DIGG

  8. 这儿,这儿,当然最大的莫过于今天正式推出的v3版本。 粗粗用了一下,新的Digg主要加强以下三方面的功能:

  9. What is similar about their business models? Do they recognize some essential nature of the web? Any other good examples? And when we talk about new models for news gathering versus the old, and worry about how in-depth journalism will get financed, is there something related here?

  10. most popular videos, such as on YouTube. Thankfully, the new version will also improve the friends area – You can now be alerted to content that friends have “agreed on”. Digg has over 300,000 users, as written above, and it is even started to be said that Digg gets more traffic than the New York Times. I suspect that the expansion into new news topics will only increase the number of users as well as the amounts of traffic Digg receives. The key to the success of these new topics will be the community that already surrounds

  11. takes a closer look

  12. popular stories like the movement of bees aggregating around burgeoning/wilting flowers. In other Digg news: – CNet just added a Digg button to all their pages, likely the first major, traditional media outlet to do so. – Digg’s taffic is rapidly approaching comparison to that of the New York Times. – Rose made number 23 in Business 2.0 top ’50 Who Matter Now’ (alongside Wikipedia). (via Melanie) [IMG]

  13. popular stories like the movement of bees aggregating around burgeoning/wilting flowers. In other Digg news: – CNet just added a Digg button to all their pages, likely the first major, traditional media outlet to do so. – Digg’s taffic is rapidly approaching comparison to that of the New York Times. – Rose made number 23 in Business 2.0 top ’50 Who Matter Now’ (alongside Wikipedia). (via Melanie) [IMG enclose-block-text: yes]

  14. zelfs beweerd dat Digg qua traffic de New York Times nadert, met meer dan 800.000 unieke bezoekers en 9 miljoen pageviews. Dit succes is vele mensen opgevallen en het is dan ook niet raar dat de formule gekopieerd wordt. Zo heb je in Nederland een soortgelijk

  15. Theres’ so much more that’s being offered in each release – more information that can be read a number of different ways – to give people insight on the stories and to show BUZZ. Also, Digg’s numbers are compared here with the original story that inspired mine here. “In a review of Digg v3, TechCrunch declares that Digg is challenging The New York Times online in terms of page views. As evidence, Mike references an

  16. all gain historical continuity from this story. Perkins’s quote above throws an especially harsh light on the ink spilled over (Stamen client) Digg, which is one of a few examples used by writers like Nick Carr and Scott Karp to demean the quality of user-submitted Digg stories, MySpace profiles, and blog entries. The interwar years are fast-becoming one of my favorite historical periods all-around, partially because so many of the lessons of that time are being forgotten

  17. for search all pages that contain digg.com and newyorktimes.com digg.com = 17,700,000 click here to see newyorktimes.com = 23,400 click here to see According to TechCrunch, Digg has 800,000 daily unique visitors and 9 million page daily views. Click Here. And even sites critical of Digg often have that little digg it button! Say what you will, one thing is for certain, DIGG.COM is a major success story!

  18. posts

  19. popular stories like the movement of bees aggregating around burgeoning/wilting flowers. In other Digg news: – CNet just added a Digg button to all their pages, likely the first major, traditional media outlet to do so. – Digg’s taffic is rapidly approaching comparison to that of the New York Times. – Rose made number 23 in Business 2.0 top ’50 Who Matter Now’ (alongside Wikipedia). (via Melanie) [IMG enclose-block-text: yes]

  20. Digg.com is a fast mover as well: 1.3 million unique visitors (May 2006). With $ 2.8 million raised in venture capital. And what does the CEO say here? Digg.com ‘s founder Kevin Rose says in Business Week “We have a clear path becoming a profitable company, and we’re fully funded. We don’t have to worry

  21. several articles

  22. Recognizing this and exploring new economic models to support journalism are core questions of the ongoing norgs discussion we’ve been having.

  23. “Digg users will still be sitting in comfy chairs while other people put on body armor to report from war zones. Digg (and every news filter for that matter) is a leech on every news gatherer, from blogger journalists to institutional journalists.”

    Well, from that perspective, the Times editor is a leech on the same sources. And for that matter, the Times reporters are leeches on the wars and other events of human suffering they report on, living in relative comfort while those around them agonize and die.

    What we have seen is that in fact more accurate and more gripping accounts are coming from these trouble areas from the residents themselves. Take a look at the Global Voices blog as only one example of this sort of reporting.

    It is very quaint for the press to claim that aggregators are leeches. It is also very misleading.

  24. I m afraid it ‘s not the way we should read Alexa esoteric statistics. In the same way Nielsen is only counting US audience so you miss all international audience for the NYTimes (could be 20 to 40% more…). The gap is probably much better. I suggest to stop using Alexa funny toy… Would be better if Digg.com could disclose their site centric stats.

  25. Stephen,

    First of all, I’m not “the press.” This blog is my personal view — nowhere have I represented otherwise.

    Well, from that perspective, the Times editor is a leech on the same sources.

    But the Times is actually paying people to gather news from all over the world.

    And for that matter, the Times reporters are leeches on the wars and other events of human suffering they report on, living in relative comfort while those around them agonize and die.

    Tell that to Nicholas Kristof or any of the other journalists who have made it their mission to raise awareness about “”human suffering.” I knew Michael Kelly, who was the first journalist to die in Iraq, and I can tell you he was NOT a “leech” — and I can assure he was not doing it for his personal enrichment. Many other journalists have died and risked their lives to report from war zones.

    Frankly, I find this comment EXTREMELY offensive and twisted.

    What we have seen is that in fact more accurate and more gripping accounts are coming from these trouble areas from the residents themselves.

    I’m all for providing platforms for “citizen journalism” or whatever you want to call it — that type of reporting by the people living the “news” exists rightfully alongside news gathering by people who are paid to gather news.

    But that does not make valid the conclusion that all institutional news gathering is morally corrupt.

  26. [...] That is a pretty staggering number — and it has to be fairly sobering for anyone who works at the New York Times and is paying attention, not to mention anyone at a traditional media organization like the one I work for. There are issues with the traffic numbers that TechCrunch is using, of course, as one commenter on Scott’s post pointed out: Alexa’s measurement tools only track the U.S. audience, and the New York Times almost certainly has a fairly broad international readership. Still, the NYT’s online readership is likely growing relatively slowly, and Digg is still climbing like a rocket. [...]

  27. I don’t see Digg competing with NYT, I see it augmenting the NYT.

    How many times have we complained about an important story being buried deep in the paper, where it’s ignored or (worse) skimmed-over by readers? Digg provides two functions that the NYT lacks: surfacing interesting information with swarming behavior so that interesting stories see the light of day, and providing a focal point for discussion on those stories. Yes, Digg’s userbase is currently more focused on movies and XBox hacks, but Digg is an explicitly outwardly-focused site, and every page is a pointer to something with value out in the world.

    (Conflict of interest: Digg is a client – http://mike.teczno.com/notes/digg-v3.html)

  28. “fund the reporting from Congo” is so 1.0.
    You’ve got to get it in this 2.0 world – It’s about what’s POPULAR!!!
    What’s your opinion? You, yes, you! Click on the ads, consume. That’s what pays.

    [This is sarcasm, in case it wasn't obvious]

  29. Michal,

    The Times, in and of itself, doesn’t need Digg to fix the buried story problem because the problem doesn’t exist any more. The Times has “Most Emailed” and “Most Blogged” stories listed on the front page, where the community of readers are already surfacing what’s important.

    That aside, sure Digg ads value to the Times, just like Google does. My point is that the whole system depends on somebody being willing to fund the gathering of all the types of news that the Times covers. If not then we are limited to content people are willing to produce for free and or content that drives contextual ad revenue (to Seth’s point). The gathering of news from war zones and destablizing democracies will no longer be economically viable unless independently funded.

  30. No only that, but the kind of work that’s required to report on local government and business, which requires libel protection, and institutional sources, will no longer be economically viable.

    ok, let’s be honest here for a second – that kind of reporting was NEVER economically viable.

    it was the bundle and distribution channel hat such news was wrapped in and provided by.

    the net disintermediates bundlers and it has an entirely different model of distribution that enables doing without the traditional middleman.

    hence *all* traditional media businesses are feeling these pressures. from music, to newspapers, and as bandwidth and tools of creation and distribution get cheaper – video.

  31. Karl, small correction – I’d say the net re-intermediates bundlers. Digg is a bundler, an intermediary, a middleman. Except it’s not interested in reporting, it’s interested in repackaging (this is another way of expressing Scott’s point about being a “leech”).

    It’s as if someone could make a “remixed” newspaper, but with just the comics, horoscopes, opinions, letter-columns, and of course the ads.

  32. [...] Publishing 2.0 did an analysis of how Digg is doing versus the New York Times using Nielsen numbers. This came after TechCrunch said Digg is in striking distance of the Times in terms of page views. I like that Publishing 2.0 looked for another source of numbers, because frankly, I don’t know what Alexa is worth rather than simply showing trajectory. [...]

  33. Seth – your point is a good one regarding re-intermediation. And it goes to Karl’s point regarding the Net’s effect on all media and Stephen’s point about the NYT editors being leeches as well. We’ve all read about this (and as some of us have lived and breathed it) – what’s happening is that production and distribution costs have dropped remarkably, allowing true competition amongst editors, packagers, promoters, or whatever you want to call the intermediary function. With Google AdSense and other such ad networks, there’s even more competition possible. Why pay attention to the music that the record label A&R people think is cool – find bands on Last.fm or MySpace. Why pay attention to what the NYT thinks is important – pay attention to the news that TechMeme and Digg are promoting.

    The question of the role of the media brand is I believe one of the issues Scott is trying to get to through his posts. Currently, the NYT brand has permission in both original reporting and the packaging / promotion of aggregated reporting. As with music, film / video, and even consulting (see prices on Guru) the cost of getting into the knowledge / information based work business is dropping, and the way money is made in these businesses is changing.

    IMO – what the NYT and other media/information companies need to figure out is whether they’re going to be in the bundling or original content business. Sure they can try to be in both – but there needs to be a recognition that these businesses are now distinct, and as such need to be managed that way. The idea that the reporting side of the business will generate content that will then be monetized by the bundling side of the business creates inefficiencies for both groups that allow sites such as Digg (and Weblogs Inc, for that matter) to swoop in and capture value. Unfortunately, as those of us at large media companies know, the desire to protect the current model is very strong, so it’s likely that the revenue and cost pressures that media companies have been facing will continue for some time.

  34. Seth you’re right of course, it does empower *new* bundlers and intermediaries, as it destroys the old.

    Your last comment isn’t exactly fair though (well not entirely).

  35. Spot on Arul.

  36. “Gatekeeper.” The old newspaper model believes that an editor is needed to separate the wheat from the chaff and they know what’s best for their readers. Digg says the readers know best and the editors that decide what story leads are inefficient. I love Digg and find most of the time, what makes it to the front page is interesting to me. I guess it depends on if you think the masses are smart enough to decide what’s best for them or if you think some elite “knows better” and if the masses decide, they would just read the journalistic equivalent of junk food and potato chips. I’m on the side of the masses by the way.

  37. Scott-
    An economically viable way for the Times to fund news gathering is to become a news aggregator.

    Also, re this:

    The Times, in and of itself, doesn’t need Digg to fix the buried story problem because the problem doesn’t exist any more. The Times has “Most Emailed” and “Most Blogged” stories listed on the front page, where the community of readers are already surfacing what’s important.

    Actually, the Times is surfacing what’s important on the Times’ website. It’s a huge difference, one that makes writing your post even possible.

    Kareem

  38. Scott,

    Your blog is a place I look for valuable industry insights.

    However, I must complain about your choice of the NY Times as a basis of comparison, and a news source of record.

    Having been a former Times enthusiast myself, over the past 5-10 years I’ve come to realize how institutionally corrupt the organization really is. And of course this is reflected in their reporting. Their political coverage is so distorted with a liberal bias, I do not read it as actual news. Their track record on basic journalistic standards speaks for itself.

    I realize that anybody labelling themselves a liberal would likely dismiss my criticism. However, what I’ve come to know as the real NY Times has made me less liberal than most anything I can name.

    I hope you too will see through the ideological haze, and learn to judge the Times on their record, not their stature.

  39. Has Nick Carr gotten any love yet in this conversation? He’s all about this arguement. I think it’s fairly compelling. For another take on this question, http://blogswana.wordpress.com/ is worth a look.

  40. Mr. K, I’m not convinced it’s necessary to take sides, which is why the Netscape experiment with masses + editor is so interesting. With Digg, you can make the case that any individual story is worthwile, but the whole of the Digg front page is rather incoherent. There’s no context, no organization. The masses may be smart enough to spot what’s interesting or important, but when acting a collective they’ve got some ADHD issues. Information by large committee, as with any effort by a large committee, is likely to be lacking in coherence.

    Somaking, I didn’t choose the comparison, TechCrunch did — see first sentence of this post. I thought that the comparison, already on the table, was worth exploring. So your assumption that my choice was guided by ideology reflects your own “ideological haze” — it’s generally the ideologues who want to cast everything in terms of ideology.

    Marshall, thanks for flagging Blogswana — very interesting.

  41. [...] Scott Karp: Digg vs the NY Times.  [...]

  42. [...] "He cloned us at the wrong time." That’s what Digg founder Kevin Rose said of AOL’s Jason Calacanis who last week re-launched Netscape as social news site that bore an uncanny resemblance to Rose’s pioneering effort (see "Diggscape")  And that’s a point well taken today as Digg prepares to launch the next iteration of its service – one that extends its collaborative news aggregator to subjects other than tech. On Monday, the Digg team with uncrate Digg 3.0 which points the site’s editorial lens at entertainment, gaming, science, world & business, and online video. Those new content categories will undoubtedly help to grow the site’s already sizeable audience.  According to TechCrunch and Alexa’s traffic stats, Digg gets about 800,000 unique visitors a day and page views of about 9 million a day – enough to challenge The New York Times (in state-side pageviews, anyway.) And that’s a point worth dwelling on.  "To me, the interesting question is how Digg will rival The New York Times as a source of the most important news of the day," Scott Karp writes at Publishing 2.0. "The Digg community has a reputation for some indiosyncratic choices, but certainly on technology, Digg has a breadth of “coverage” that already exceeds that of the Times. The real test will be on World & Business News — I go to the NYT site every day because I want to know that the Iraqi government has declared a state of emergency, that the SEC is examing a large hedge fund, and that in Congo hunger and disease are eroding democracy. Can Digg users be counted on to surface the most important global stories (important by some reasonable measure), or will they just obsess over weird stuff? " [...]

  43. [...] Scott Karp: Digg vs the NY Times.  [...]

  44. I’m not sure if this has been hit on yet, but I think Digg would help in the NY Times traffic. The articles themselves from the sites are being linked to from Digg and the people there click on them to read them. So I think, especially with Digg upgrading next week to version 3, it will provide the NY Times and other news sites with more readers.

  45. This post recalls Dave Winer’s long bet about the NYTimes.

    Scott, I think you’re right, there isn’t a need to take sides.

    Again, getting past the hype, it is important to just recognize there is a place for both approaches to news filtering. Indeed I think there is a real *need* for both, and that you can expect many other services like Netscape that mix them in novel and useful ways.

    But answer this – who is paying for the original pieces of investigative journalism that are linked to at Newsvine and Digg, or produced at the New York Times? And who will do so in the future? What are the economic models that are emerging, if any, to support it? Because it costs serious money.

    Scott, it sounds like you’ve come to the conclusion that it is still about advertising. And the service with the most attractive demographics to advertisers wins. That right?

  46. Scott,

    I get what you’re saying about the “most emailed” feature, but it doesn’t quite fulfill the same need in my eyes. Just getting what’s popular is one thing, while getting what’s popular + a facet is another. It’s not just Digg augmenting the Times, it’s Digg augmenting the Times for the Digg user base. There are other sites that do roughly the same thing, but for varying audiencies: lefties, techies, hippies, trekkies, whatever.

  47. Dammit, hit “Submit” too soon.

    Just wanted to add something on the whole war zone / global reporting topic. Without any hard evidence to back me up, I think there’s no reason why this function of global news needs to wither or die. There is still an audience for global reporting, and not every news outlet needs to shoulder the cost (does every paper need an Iraq bureau?). Further, there are already people in war zones with Internet access who can feed information to the outside world. I can definitely imagine this function being adopted by independent entities or other involveds, e.g. soldiers or GVO’s extensive network of worldwide bloggers. Sites like Digg, Groklaw, or GVO have the same kind of advantage over the Times that open source has over traditional software development models: many eyes, high backgroun-checking capacity, and so on. What they don’t have is the reliable ability to produce lng-term narrative journalism, such as The New Yorker’s “Annals Of National Security” series.

  48. Interesting graph here: 60% of Digg’s front page is the top 0.03% of users
    http://adverlab.blogspot.com/2006/06/reality-check-community-governed-news.html

    Not the original source, but that’s where I saw it.

  49. [...] In other Digg news: – CNet just added a Digg button to all their pages, likely the first major, traditional media outlet to do so. – Digg’s taffic is rapidly approaching comparison to that of the New York Times. – Rose made number 23 in Business 2.0 top ‘50 Who Matter Now’ (alongside Wikipedia). (via Melanie) [...]

  50. [...] I’m reading this to fill in some backstory to Death And Life Of Great American Cities. Aside from being a dramatic account of urban renewal and destruction, the world of the 1920’s and 1930’s is a perfect context for similar “social architecture” taking place on the web, right now. Net Neutrality, User Generated Content, and Social Software all gain historical continuity from this story. Perkins’s quote above throws an especially harsh light on the ink spilled over (Stamen client) Digg, which is one of a few examples used by writers like Nick Carr and Scott Karp to demean the quality of user-submitted Digg stories, MySpace profiles, and blog entries. [...]

  51. [...] LeeAnn Prescott over at Hitwise takes an interesting look at stats that give a “reality check” to recent speculation that Digg’s traffic and new content areas could make it as big as the NYTimes. I like her approach, which doesn’t just look at traffic or pageviews, but also demographics (for instance, the fact that “6% of Digg’s users were in the 18-24 age bracket, while only 9.5% of NY Times users were in that age group“), and where their traffic comes from. [...]

  52. [...] It’s when you have people trying to put you on the level of powerful media institutions when you’re actually not really there yet. [...]

  53. [...] If Digg or Netscape has any hope of truly rivaling the New York Times or other “traditional” daily news outlets, they need to help AVERAGE PEOPLE find out what’s going on in the world that is important for them to know about. [...]

  54. [...] Publishing2 was quick to come up with a Digg vs. The New York Times article, denying Michael’s data. [...]

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