One of the things that has bugged me for at least three years is the fact that other independent “news” and content sites have garnered far more attention and publicity while achieving far less in the way of results and far fewer readers than WorldNetDaily.
That may be changing – finally.
Recently, Business Week Online, the prestigious financial site, profiled some of the Internet content sites that are making it despite the disastrous dot-com slump. Leading its coverage was the WorldNetDaily story.
Now, I could nitpick some of the characterizations in that piece – and some of them do deserve clarification for our audience. But to say I was pleased with the overall tone and accuracy of the piece would be an understatement.
“On any given day, WorldNetDaily, an investigative-news website, serves up an array of stories that you won’t find anywhere else,” the story began. “Think of The O’Reilly Factor online.”
I can also tell you that this is the first of several positive stories currently being prepared about WorldNetDaily.
The Business Week article noted that WorldNetDaily is No. 1 among all news sites in time spent per user – and has been for several years.
It pointed out that, according to Neilsen/Net Ratings, WorldNetDaily attracts 462,000 unique visitors, who spent an average of 40 minutes on the site.
“That’s almost double the time that newshounds spend on the top 10 news sites – a typical visit to MSNBC, for example, averages about 23 minutes, while CNN.com averages 26 minutes,” the article said.
It should be pointed out that WorldNetDaily’s actual numbers are quite a bit higher than that. All of the major ratings agencies use samplings to make estimates of readership and viewership. Most of them exclude users who access sites at work. Most exclude users overseas. Most exclude users on Macs.
According to WorldNetDaily’s own monitoring software, it attracts some 2.5 million unique visitors a month who spend far more than 40 minutes on the site.
“WorldNet Daily is also racking up nice revenues for an operation with a staff of just 20,” the article continued. “It brings in between $250,000 and $300,000 a month from advertising, subscriptions, and book sales, says WorldNetDaily Editor in Chief Joseph Farah. It breaks even most months, he claims, and the site projects a profit by 2002.”
All true – and hallelujah that someone else in the media has finally recognized this accomplishment.
“Sites like WorldNetDaily offer a glimmer of hope to the depressed world of online content, where, for the last six months, the only news has been of layoffs and closures,” the Business Week article continued. “Salon.com, the much-vaunted online magazine, came within inches of its financial life last week before obtaining a $2.5 million injection of funding.”
Oh, how I love that Salon comparison. With $2.5 million, WorldNetDaily could conquer the world. Yet, no one is throwing money at this lean, mean content machine.
And it’s not that we are so much smarter than the other guys. As Business Week points out, we made plenty of mistakes at WorldNetDaily, too.
“WorldNetDaily recognized last summer that, though it published online, it wasn’t really a tech franchise,” the article said. “So Farah closed down the technology division and partnered with a software company to provide WorldNetDaily with publishing tools. The company also shut down its retail sales operation, which had employed 17 people.”
And here’s the best part: “Moreover, niche sites’ long-term success could eventually threaten big media’s domination – a concept that has been all but discredited since the Internet bubble burst. That’s because gaining access to small sites is no more difficult than going to a mainstream newspaper on the Web. Before the Internet, bundling all kinds of content into one general newspaper was the only cost-effective way to serve an audience. Now, niche sites that define a passionate target audience can play in the big leagues.”
Keep in mind, we believe our niche is as big as the Grand Canyon.
“The little news sites are stripping away pieces of what a newspaper does,” said one source interviewed by Business Week. “Mainstream news isn’t dead in the water. But I’m troubled about how it will survive in the future.”
That prospect doesn’t trouble me one bit. How about you?