New Yandex.ru report [ru] “Media sphere of RuNet. September 2010 – January 2011″ suggests that Russian online media are growing but still have a long way to go to become a truly developed reporting platform.
Unlike several years ago, Russian have much wider selection of news on the Internet. Russian online media publish around 50,000 news pieces on a weekday. But the news agenda remains pretty narrow with only 20 percent of online media outlets generating 80 percent of the stories. Russian best-selling tabloid “Komsomolskaya Pravda” [ru] is the most “productive” outlet in this regard with 900 news articles per day. The Internet provides almost infinite space for all sorts of news stories and doesn't impose many limitations on the type of information that can be published. That is why the selection of stories available on the websites of traditional media outlets is much wider than the amount of news in their conventional forms of broadcast (radio, TV, newspaper, etc.). Along with “Komsomolskaya Pravda,” big information agencies also lead in the amount of of daily news. They publish 300-400 articles a day.
According to comScore, an Internet marketing research company, monthly audience of Russian online media is 40 million. The whole 30 percent (12 million) of people reading Russian news are located beyond the country’s borders (mainly in Europe). This makes sense since Europe hosts several largest Russian communities.
The report also showed that Russian online media are still far from practicing multidimensional reporting. Only 39 percent of the outlets use pictures in their stories and disappointing one percent use audio and video. This goes against the main reason (beyond an economic one) for traditional media outlets to go online: expand their opportunities for reporting with a wide selection of multimedia tools to enhance the presentation of news and provide opportunities for better and deeper understanding of different issues in a society.
Unfortunately, the speed is also not the strongest characteristic of Russian online media. It takes 20-30 minutes for breaking news to appear online. Less important but still pressing events become available to online audience after several hours. Of course, the report doesn't cover the tools “designed” for speedy presentation of the information (Twitter, forums, blogs, etc.) and, as GVO reported several times in the past, traditional media usually take the information about breaking news from those online platforms.
One forth of all online news contain links to other sources of information. Ten percent of those are exact copies of the original articles published somewhere else. This became one of the main characteristics of Russian online media. As popular newspaper “Kommersant” wrote [ru] last year, “At the present turn of its development, the media, particularly online, seem ready to drown a reader in the sea of information. However, this is just an illusion. In fact, there is no more information online, and the lion's share of the content fed to consumers is nothing more than repeatedly rewritten stories or just an information void.”
The most cited and “plagiarized” media outlets are information agencies RIA -Novosti, Interfax and ITAR-TASS. This is very different from traditional media that, according to company “Medialogiya” mostly cite “Kommersant” newspaper, “Forbes” magazine and radio “Echo Moskvy.”
On media consumption front, the reports says that 38 percent of online news consumers go directly to the websites without using links or search engines. It is an eight-percent increase from 2008. Yandex.ru explains that people are getting used to finding about news online and bookmark or memorize their favorite news sites for quicker access.
There is also a trend of social networks playing their role in news distribution. Almost all online media have incoming visits – although only one percent of all traffic – from social media consumers. Vkontakte.ru, the most popular social network in Russia, and Livejournal.com, the most popular blogging platform, lead the trend.
As can be seen from the report, Russian online media, in a lot of ways, are still in their infancy. Many traditional media outlets in the country are supported by external funding (be that Kremlin-friendly oligarchs or the Kremlin itself) and, so far, do not need to worry about economic media crisis like their counterparts in the United States and some European countries. But as more and more people go online and abandon traditional sources of information, we will probably see how Internet media mature and begin using the full potential of online world.