New publication: the hyperlinked news ecology

It’s been in process for around two year, so I’m very please to announce that Digital Journalism has just published the article “The Hyperlinked Scandinavian News Ecology. The unequal terms forged by the structural properties of digitalisation“. I’ve co-authored the article with Helle Sjøvaag, Eirik Stavelin, and Michael Karlsson (and I sure shouldn’t claim that the majority of the contributions were done by me).

Here’s the abstract:

The article presents a network analysis of 22,861,013 geocoded external hyperlinks, collected from 230 Danish, 220 Norwegian and 208 Swedish news websites in 2016. The analysis asks what the structural properties of the Scandinavian media systems—including its geography and ownership structures—mean for news outlets’ centrality within the hyperlinked news ecology. The analysis finds that whereas incumbent legacy media occupy central positions, about one third of the network is absent from the hyperlinked interaction, primarily local, independently owned newspapers. A multiple linear regression analysis shows that national distribution and corporate ownership correlates to network centrality more than other predictors. As brokers in the network consist of the large, legacy, capital-based news organisations, hyperlink connectivity is primarily characterised by proximity to the centres of power, corporate ownership, agenda setting incumbency and national distribution.

The study is the first published result from the research project ““The Hyperlinked News Network in Scandinavia” (2017-2020), which is headed by Helle Sjøvaag and funded through a 10 m SEK grant from the Ander Foundation. We are currently working of several studies that pursue similar ideas to the ones in this article.

My PhD dissertation available now

Just a public service announcement: I have now made my PhD dissertation News on the Web: instantaneity, multimodality, interactivity, and hypertextuality on Danish news websites available here on my website. As most of it is already published and the data aren’t getting any younger, there really is no point in not having it out there.

A large part of the dissertation consists of research articles, and most of those are now published in academic journals (in more or less revised versions):

Furthermore, parts of the theoretical introduction is commissioned as a book chapter for publication next year. I’ll post more on that here on the blog later.

If you want the printed-book version, it is for sale at Publikom at the price of 172.50 DKK (approx. 32 Euros/31 USD). For some reason, they haven’t added the dissertation to their online catalogue even though they sell it, so you’ll have to send them en email.

Jimmy Maymann, bringer of good news

This week, a superstar toured the Danish media organizations: Jimmy Maymann, the CEO of the Huffington Post. I had the privilege of attending his talk at the Centre for Journalism at the University of Southern Denmark (where I work) and of spending nearly one hour in an exclusive conversation with him and Gerd May and Filip Wallberg from Fynske Medier (an organization I’m currently researching).

Maymann, who is born and raised in Denmark, has a convincing case for what news organizations should do in order to make it in the digital age. While most of the news industry struggles (some even for survival), the Huffington Post thrives. The company currently has 10 national editions outside of the US, has more than 100 million unique visitors per a month, and is making money. In 2012, the Huffington Post was the first online-only medium to win a Pulitzer Prize.

From my point of view, there are a couple of reasons why Huffington Post performs extremely well.

  • They use data – a lot. It’s not that they only produce the journalism the readers want, such as slideshows of puppies and celebrities in awkward situations, but the presentation and the timing of the content is highly informed by user metrics. All journalists have dashboards to follow how their stories perform and are expected to use that information. Headlines are tweaked through A/B testing (or actually rather A/B/C/D/E/… testing).
  • They understand digital media. And have (so far successfully) thrown a large part of their chips into the baskets of social media, video, and mobile, and they acknowledge the importance of search-engine optimization even of the micro-level of the individual journalist’s everyday work.
  • They have momentum. They are expanding internationally (and enter the Indian market later this month). The Huffington Post is one of the places to be in the media business right now, so they are able to attract the best journalists whose mindset match the organization’s.
  • They get a lot of high-quality content for free. According to Maymann, the Huffington Post currently have around 80,000 blogs where, for example, experts and politicians contribute with content. That’s a very good base for generating traffic.
  • They “fail fast”. In its organizational mindset, the Huffington Post is intent on testing things – and that means that sometimes, things don’t work as well as expected. What the Huffington Post does right here is to accept such failure quickly, adapt to it, and move forward with that lesson learnt in the organization.

During the first two days of his visit in Denmark, Maymann had (recounting from my memory) at least six or seven professional engagements where he would talk about the success of the Huffington Post. In one sense, he’s an evangelist in a media business under pressure. ‘Evangelist’ comes from the Latin word ‘euangelion’, which means ‘good news’, and so an evangelist is, in the original meaning of the word, a bringer of good news.

If anything, Jimmy Maymann is considered by the Danish media a bringer of good news. He represents the hope that the current demise of media organizations can be turned around and that they can succeed. This perception of him – combined with the general tendency of Danes being interested in other Danes who have made it big abroad – means that Danish media have had a lot of interviews with Maymann on the news business, career, and entrepreneurship.

Ekstra Bladet uden for citat – a recent documentary about Danish tabloid Ekstra Bladet – illustrates just how much influence Maymann (direct or indirect, willingly or not) has on the Danish media business.

Like all other print newspapers, Ekstra Bladet does not find itself in a good situation these years, and it’s struggeling to find out what to do. However, the documentary shows, on the basis of more or less only a one-hour meeting with Maymann (where he lays out the reasons for the success of the Huffington Post), editor-in-chief Poul Madsen and a couple of colleagues in the newspaper’s top management quickly decided that much of what Huffington Post does should also be the way forward for the newspaper. Video, mobile, and social media become central components in the new way of doing things. So strong is the belief in Maymann’s approach – or the willingness to believe – that one inspirational meeting was enough.

This anecdote is not unique to Ekstra Bladet. More or less every Danish media organization wants a piece of the Huffington Post and Maymann, of learning what they do.

What Ekstra Bladet and other Danish legacy media must remember is, however, that they are not in a position to just copy-paste the Huffington Post’s way of doing things. They operate in another market with a quite small language community, the employment and union structure and tradition in the Danish labor market is radically different, and – most importantly – they cannot just import the necessary mindset and culture from another organization.

There is no quick fix to the challenges currently facing the news industry, no matter how convincing the bringer of the good news is.

Disclaimer: I have not yet watched Ekstra Bladet uden for citat myself but have had this sequence retold by several people.

Hard times and a hard paywall in Kerteminde

On Saturday, one more Danish news website went from free to fee and launched digital subscription. The news website in question is that of Kjerteminde Avis, which is a hyperlocal one that serves the public of Kerteminde in the north-eastern corner of the Funen (approximately 24,000 citizens).

The outlook for the subscription model bringing economic salvation to the pressured local could be better, but American research as well as the development i Northern Norway can lead to cautious optimism.

Like other local or regional news websites, Kjerteminde Avis uses the hard paywall. Subscription now costs 20 DKK per month or 50 DKK for three months.

Being founded in 1879, Kjerteminde Avis has a long history. However, the last couple of years have been characterized by a transition to web-only publication, frequent shifts of editors-in-chief, and serious economic challenges; last year, the news website asked its readers for donations in order to make ends meet. The news website carries ads, predominantly from local businesses.

Donations and advertising, however, seem not to have been sufficient, and so the time has come for implementing proper digital subscription. In a situation of intense economic stress, that decision is understandable.

The news website aims at reaching 1,600 digital subscribers. That’s approximately seven percent of the population, and it’s an ambitious goal. Even if the news website succeeds in reaching that goal, however, it will be difficult to make the news production in Kerteminde economically viable. According to an earlier article in Kjerteminde Avis, the costs of producing the news website is a little more than 60,000 DKK per month. 1,600 subscribers and the current level of advertising will find only barely cover that expense. It will be an extremely tight budget where there’s no room for unexpected expenses or editorial development.

However, Kjerteminde Avis can find support in an experimental study from 2012. Here, Cook and Attari compared news users’ attitudes to the launch of digital subscription when told, respectively, that the subscription was justified in terms of building profits or of securing the survival of the news website in question. The results of the study suggest that users are more likely to accept digital subscription when the news medium communicates that it’s caused by questions of survival.

In its campaign leading up to the launch, Kjerteminde Avis has mentioned its dire economical situation repeatedly.

Furthermore, the small Funen news website can find comfort by looking north. In the Northern parts of Norway, hyperlocal thrive to such an extent that you can speak of a divided media marked.

On the one hand, there are the large newspapers published by national and transnational corporations. And on the other hand, there are small, hyperlocal newspapers that are only published to a very geographically limited audiences and that are owned locally. In their constellation, size, and target groups, these newspapers are very much like Kjerteminde Avis. In a study of this divided media market, Holand argues that the success of the hyperlocal newspapers is caused by support from the local community as well as public subsidies.

And that leads me to the reason why there could be hope for Kjerteminde Avis. The two sources for revenues used by the Norwegian newspapers are namely also the ones that it pursues: the support from local citizens (in terms of subscription) and local advertisers, and support through public subsidies. Later this Spring, the Danish Agency for Culture will announce who gets these subsidies in 2014, and Kjerteminde Avis has applied.

A few years ago, I interview the then editor-in-chief of Kjerteminde Avis for my PhD dissertation. He compared Kjerteminde Avis to the small village in the Asterix cartoons – the village that kept on fighting despite bad odds and a changing world order. The odds have not improved since then, and the hyperlocal news website might not get any more second chances it the economy does not get better (or at least stabilized) now. But as the research shows, that might not be impossible.

This post was written before the launch of the digital subscription on Saturday. However, Saturday afternoon, Kjerteminde Avis announced that it had reached 150 paying subscribers.

This post was originally published on my (now defunct) other website Paywall Watch. A Danish-language and slightly edited version was published on MediaWatch today.

New website maps free-to-fee transition

These years, the news industry is in a transition period, moving away from the online business model based on offering news free of charge on their news websites. Instead, different subscription models are introduced across the board – on national as well as regional and local news websites. This transition is of most importance to the news industry as it is of vital economic importance for the news organizations that they manage to generate some sort of revenue from their online presence.

However, the knowledge of the consequences of this transition from free to fee is, at best, limited. There seems to be a lot of gut-feeling and guessing involved in the pricing of online news, and it is hard to pinpoint exactly what constitutes a reasonable number of subscribers. This paradox (between high importance and low knowledge) is at the core of my current research project on the digital business models of the press.

In connection with this project, I’ve now launched a new website called Paywall Watch. It will be a site for mapping and documenting the implementation of digital subscriptions on news websites, and my hope is that it will be a most useful resource for researchers, students, analysts, and practitioners within the news industry. The inspiration for the site is to websites is the online work conducted by Dr. Piet Bakker at his blogs Newspaper Innovation and Newspaper Statistics. On those sites, he continuously, meticulously, and thoroughly maps developments and statistics related to two quite specific areas – free dailies and newspaper readership, respectively. The ambition of Paywall Watch is to do the same, only with subscription models on news websites.

For now, the site will focus on Danish news websites only. It’s a question of resources, really, but hopefully it’ll expand its scope and have an international dimension. There is also a blog section which I expect to use down the line; but for now, my focus is on the mapping and documenting effort.

Paywall Watch is live now on . Enjoy.

Update January 21, 2014: Two of the most important Danish sites with news on media and journalism have articles about Paywall Watch today. Click here for the articles on Journalisten.dk (actually a blog post written by me) and MediaWatch.

Update March 19, 2018: I’ve closed Paywall Watch. Some of the same issues will be covered here on this website in the future. See, for example, my timeline of online subscriptions.

New publication: terrorism in real-time

As I hinted in an earlier blog post, I’ve had an important publication coming up.

Now, I’m happy to be able to announce that “Terrorisme i realtid: 22. juli 2011 i danske og norske netaviser” [Terrorism in real-time: July 22, 2011, on Danish and Norwegian news websites] has just been published in academic journal Norsk Medietidsskrift. It’s the second research article of my PhD dissertation on news on the web.

Here’s the abstract:

In cases of emergent crises, news media undertake an important societal function by providing the public with timely and correct information. Using the terrorist attack in Norway on July 22, 2011, as case, this article analyzes how Danish and Norwegian news websites cover emergent crisis in real-time. First, the article analyzes whether this coverage made use of the affordances of news websites (instantaneity, multimodality, interactivity, and hypertextuality). Second, it analyzes the accuracy of the coverage. The conclusion is that the real-time coverage both used the affordances and was accurate, suggesting that digital journalism managed to undertake its societal function during the terrorist attack.

The article is in Danish, but an early, English version can be mail available upon request.

Defending my PhD tomorrow

Tomorrow, I’ll publicly defend my PhD dissertation News on the Web: instantaneity, multimodality, interactivity, and hypertextuality on Danish news websites. The defense will take place in auditorium 22.0.11 at the Southern Campus of the University of Copenhagen, and I think it’s going to be quite interesting; at least, it will be very satisfying for me. The dissertation is the result of three years of work, and even though I still think the subject – digital journalism and how it’s changing, transforming, and maintaining institutional arrangements – is highly interesting and relevant, it will be good to achieve closure on this project. I need to move forward to something new (but, of course, related) in terms of research work, and the defense marks the first step in such a transition.

I’ll provide a write-up of the defense in a later post. With this one, I actually just wanted to invite everybody to the defense (it is public, after all, and I’d like the results of my work to reach as many people as possible), to show a picture of the dissertation fresh from the press, and to publish the following summary of my work. The summary is taken from the dissertation, and it goes through the main points of it very briefly.

Compared to traditional news media, news websites hold a unique set of affordances in relation to news workers, namely instantaneity, multimodality, interactivity, and hypertextuality. This constellation of affordances constitutes a particular condition for the production and presentation of news. This dissertation is an enquiry into how institutional actors (news workers) appropriate these potentials afforded by new, digital technology (news websites).

The enquiry is conducted with an integration of quantitative and qualitative methods, and the analyses generally support the hypothesis that news workers working on Danish news websites do, indeed, make use of the four affordances, and that they do so in ways so that they maintain journalistic control in the process. The analyses include a content analysis of formal features on 93 Danish news websites, a qualitative case study of real-time coverage of emergent crisis, and a theory-building case study of audience participation in news production for news web-sites. The dissertation propose mediatization theory as a means for contextualizing the current developments within the institution of journalism, arguing that it is an institution which is accommodating the logics and formats of the media institution – but not without some resistance from its actors.

The dissertation consists of introductory chapters (Introduction, Terminology, Theoretical framework, and Research design), four research articles, and a concluding chapter, which outlines the conclusion, identifies the most important contributions to existing knowledge, and points to future research in continuation of this dissertation. Except for one of the four research articles, this dissertation is written in English; the research article in question is Danish-language.

If you want to read the entire dissertation, drop me an email and I’ll forward it to you.

News websites without news

Very recently, a new news website launched in Denmark – or at least, it calls itself a news website. The name of the site is Netavisen Pio [The News Website Pio], but “news website” might be overstating it. Rather, it looks like a debate site with a clear political bias.

Pio, however, is not the first Danish self-proclaimed news website of that kind. Earlier such websites include, most prominently, 180grader [180 degrees], launched in 2007. Pio is edited by the former press officer of a Danish labor union, and one of the central persons in its instanciation is Henrik Sass Larsen, a Member of Parliament for the Danish Social Democrats. 180grader is edited by Ole Birk Olesen, a Member of Parliament for the right wing party Liberal Alliance.

Pio and 180grader call themselves news websites, but what they have in common is an absense of news and a high priority given to opinion, commentary, analysis, and debate. There isn’t much journalism on these news websites, if any. Don’t Pio have proper news? Sure. But its newsy headlines lead to articles on Avisen.dk, a news website owned partly by the Danish workers’ unions… – So why do they call themselves news websites? Most likely to tap into the legitimacy of the institution of the newspaper, providing some aura of credibility and objectivity to websites which are first and foremost blog universes that act as mouthpieces for certain political positions.

It’s not at all a problem that websites such as Pio and 180grader exist. On the contrary, I think they constitute an important part of a well-functioning digital public sphere as they provide platforms for political engagement and discourse (even if their obvious political inclinations might make them “echo chambers“). But calling these websites news websites is a misnomer. The use of that term (news website) implies journalistic ambitions and work and some actual news, and neither Pio nor 180grader have very much – if any – of just that. News website is simply a misleading trade description in this context.

In Danish, the word ‘avis’ means newspaper. In French, the word ‘avis’ means view or opinion. As far as I can see, 180grader and Pio are avis only in the French sense of the word.

Disclaimer: one of the main contributers to Pio, Rasmus Lynghøj Christensen, is an acquaintance of mine and was for several years a fellow student at the university.

Article in today’s Politiken on interactivity

In a short article in today’s Politiken, I present brand new research results about how Danish news websites use the interactive potential of web technology. The article is apparently not available online, so you’ll have to buy the newspaper or visit your public library to read it in its entirety, but here is a translation of the most important paragraphs:

Journalists and editors on the Danish news websites might be interested in using the interactive potential of the web and involve the public in their work. But first and foremost so in ways that support the news organizations and don’t leave much control to the audience.

[…]

Summing up: it seems that interactivity on Danish news websites is first and foremost a possibility for readers to distribute that material, which journalists have already produced, and to contact journalists. Opportunities for writing yourself are, however, rare.

The article is a spin-off from a large-scale analysis of the use of technological potentials on Danish news websites which will hopefully be published in an academic journal soon. The analysis was generously funded by Dagspressens Fond.

Great hourly archive of online news front pages

Researchers of online news and journalism (such as myself) face a serious problem when it comes to our empirical domain: because websites can be continuously updated and the front pages of news websites rarely stay unchanged for longer periods of time, our object of study is transient. When a news website is updated, the old version from before the update is practically gone and cannot be studied.

It goes without saying that the methodological consequences are serious. How do you study an object that no longer exists (or is close to impossible to recreate)? How do you deal with your object of study vanishing into thin air? Existing archiving websites such as the Internet Archive: Wayback Machine and netarkivet.dk do a great job at saving copies of websites for future use and are valuable resources for researchers, but for various reasons I find their usefulness limited. Today, however, an article on Journalisten.dk made me aware of a website that may help dealing with this issue, even if it doesn’t solve the problem.

The website is www.PastPages.org, and it captures the front pages of 67 news websites every hour (the captures are available as image files in the .png format). The websites PastPages is currently capturing are primarily from the US but there are also front pages from Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Egypt, France, Germany, Great Britain, India, Israel, Japan, Mexico, Norway, Qatar, Russia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, and Turkey. We still wait for Danish news websites to enter the sample, however…

I think this website can be an extremely helpful resource for both myself and everybody else who works with online journalism. The access to the front-page captures is easy and free, everybody can do it without any bureaucratic ado, and the logics and schedule of the data collection are transparent and easily understandable. The most obvious limitation to the website is that it only captures front pages but not articles. This choice put some limitations on what you can do with the material on the PastPages, but for future studies of how frames and news agendas change and of the forms of online news, it has the potential of becoming a key resource for researchers and students.

PastPages is still a quite new site, and its future value depends entirely on its continued existence and capturing of enough material to reach a critical mass suitable for studies. You can support PastPages financially here: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/651552740/keep-pastpages-alive (the fundraising campaign closes on July 6, 2012). I consider the $20 I donated a good investment in both my own research and, more importantly, the preservation of today’s news for tomorrow.

Different news websites, different agendas

Every once in a while, you hear people complain that while printed newspapers shapen their profiles and address certain segments and target audiences, you cannot tell the difference between news websites because most of the content comes from the same wire services. It’s all the same, the argument goes. But is it really so?

The short answer is: no. As this small analysis of the agendas on five Danish news websites show, there are noteworthy differences in the priorities, selections, and presentations of news across different kinds of news websites. Using the free and highly recommendable online service Wordle, I have created word clouds of the most frequent words on the front pages this morning. I have done my best to weed out words such as “read”, “more”, “about”, “this”, and “that”; what I’m interested in is what keywords dominate the content on different kinds of news websites. This quick-and-dirty analysis is not academic work but I think it gives a quite good idea of how the agenda differs. (You can enlarge the word clouds below by clicking on them.)

The tabloid: Ekstra Bladet. This is the most popular news website in Denmark with approximately 1.5 m unique visitors each month. The tabloid newspaper has the reputation of being the “badboy” of Danish news, and in its own self-perception, Ekstra Bladet is the newspaper that dares speak truth to power. This Friday morning, however, it seemed that the badboy inclinations manifested themselves in carnal rather than anti-establishment interests as “bryster” [‘breasts’] is the most frequent word while the second most used is “Side” – as in “Side 9-pigen”, the Danish equivalent of the girls on Page Three…

The broadsheet: Politiken. This newspaper is primarily read by people from the capital and it puts special priority on culture and lifestyle issues. This identity is reflected in “København” [‘Copenhagen’] and “kultur” [‘culture’] being two of the most frequent words, and the website doesn’t appear to have a lot of content for Danes outside the largest cities. – Note: The word “storkreds” [something like ‘big constituency’] features so prominently because numerous links to a database contained that word and I missed it when discarding noise.

The specialist newspaper: Information. Information is the most high-brow newspaper in Denmark, and I think it’s fair to say that it’s also the most leftist in terms of political bias (except of course of the fullblooded political papers such as Arbejderen [‘The Worker’]). The social engagement and opposition to system domestication of the lifeworld is clear from the word cloud of the news website: “svage” [‘weaks’] and ACTA (the now infamous Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement) are the most used key words, both implying content concerned with the fairness and political structuring of modern democracy.

The local newspaper: Kjerteminde Avis. When the printed newspaper closed by the end of 2010 after no less than 131 years of publication, the editors and journalists continued their work on this news website. Last week, I interviewed the editor-in-chief Allan Aistrup who told me that the mission of the website is exclusively to serve the public of Kerteminde municipality (approximately 24,000 citizens) through nothing but local news; this is clearly reflected in their word cloud where “Kerteminde”, “Langeskov” (another big city in the municipality), and “kommune” [‘municipality’] are among the most frequent words.

The public service broadcaster: DR Nyheder. As a public service broadcaster, DR has to serve all segments and cover all subjects – they cannot just stick to breasts or Kerteminde. It’s probably for this reason there isn’t really any patterns in the keywords of this news website which on the contrary seems to cover a large number of issues somewhat equally. The most used word, however, is “kulde” [‘cold’], and the sudden drop in Danish temperatures considered it’s no surprise that this issue is on the agenda. As such, the most interesting finding from this website is that there isn’t a clear profile to identify.

Keeping in mind the very limited empirical grounding of this analysis, we can make two observations on the basis of the word clouds. First: next time someone brushes news websites aside claiming it’s all the same rubbish, one can argue that while a part of the content is indeed rubbish (as it is in printed newspapers and on the radio and television) it’s certainly not all the same. Second: the content of news websites of course reflects their institutional backdrop and its identification of its target audience. The news websites and their selection of content are also a product of media professionals aiming at certain segments rather than the entire population.

Pastry, a lamp, and little Holger – 2011 on news websites

New Year’s Eve is always a good opportunity to look back at the old year and evaluate – accordingly, lists of the best and the worst, the most memorable, popular, forgetable, admirable, embarrasing, etc., of year X constitute a popular genre in the last days of the year.

On news websites, this kind of evaluating lists often appear in the shape of articles about the most-read articles of the year that passed. And for a researcher on web-based news and journalism – such as me – these lists provide an interesting overview of what people actually read when they go online for news. That being said, I must stress the un-academic nature of the following reflections on readership on Danish news websites: the sampling is close to random as I have looked only at the top lists on the Danish news websites that I found searching for “mest læste i 2011” (‘most read in 2011’) and “mest læste 2011” (‘most read 2011’) on Google; the analysis is descriptive and explorative at best; the statistical significance is not calculated (and probably non-existing)! Nevertheless, the lists of most-read articles do give an indication about the patterns of online readership.

On Politiken, the online editor claims that “There is a clear tendency that the readers click on to the more serious news” (my translation). Even though there are indications of this pattern on Politiken’s websites, it is certainly a qualified truth when you look across the different news websites. It is true, that many of the most popular events in terms of readership on news websites were of a serious kind: the Arab Spring, the benchmarking of public schools in Denmark, the terrorist attack in Norway, the earthquake and subsequent tsunami in Japan, and especially the election of a new parlament and appointment of a new government in Denmark were events that readers were very interested in. Those events are all the kind of hard news that journalists, scholars, and concerned citizens agree are important for a functioning public sphere and society.

The most popular event, however, seems to be the disappearence of the little boy Holger which generated numerous articles on the news websites. Readers followed this story intensely and many – among them one of TV 2’s reporters who started crying – must have felt sheer relief when the red-haired boy was finally found and returned to his parents; the articles about the happy ending of the searching were among the most-read on many news websites. The Holger story was only the most prominent example of soft news reaching a large audience.

The 2011 readership of Danish news websites, however, also substantiated and confirmed some of the prejudices about content of online news and the people that reads it. Stories about sex and nudity (quite often with pictures…), celebrities (e.g. the deaths of Amy Winehouse and Danish singer Flemming Bamse Jørgensen), and quirky, uncommon events were popular everywhere. And on Politiken, the most-read article was about TV-gardener Søren Ryge and the best pretzel-shaped pastry in the world; it appears that the turn towards more serious news still has at least some way to go…

When it comes to the websites of local news media, it is clear that the local stories constitute the most popular content. The most-read article from Dagbladet Ringkjøbing-Skjern was, for example, the exciting though very short piece “Lampe revet af væg” (‘Lamp torn of wall’); likewise, in Esbjerg Ugeavis the ultimative click generator of 2011 was about three local pranksters, and almost the entire Top 10 list consists of local news. The same pattern occurs on DR P4 Trekanten where an article about the European Union was among the most-read – but of course with a local angle (about gingerbread). And on the website of Fyens Stiftstidende – Fyens Amts Avis, articles about the sudden illness and death of a prominent local politician constituted seven of the 27 most-read articles.

Departing from the broad overview, I will end this account of the year with an honourable mention of the headline on the front page of a news website in 2011 that I liked the most: “Denne tablet spiser æbler til morgenmad” (‘This tablet computer eats apples for breakfast’) on Ekstra Bladet – about a tablet computer that was apparently way better than Apple’s iPad.

Sources: using Google, I found the following lists of most-read articles:

Did I miss out any mainstream news websites? Add them in the comment field below and I will take a look at them later.

Until then: Happy New Year!

Update January 2, 2012: I’ve found some more lists. Apart from the lists of Børsen and Kristeligt Dagblad which reflect their specialist character (related to respectively financial and religious matters), the news lists generally support the agenda I have outlined above:

Update Feburary 3, 2012: Some of the webpage are now offline. I’ve removed the link but kept the titles for the sake of documentation.