Monthly readership at newspaper sites overall is up 11% in the last year to 39 million.
As a result, newspapers are seeing a rapid rise in online advertising revenue, to a projected $2 billion this year from $655 million in 2002, according to media consulting firm Borrell Associates Inc. That's a respectable chunk of all Internet advertising, which is climbing 28% annually and will surpass $12 billion this year, according to Citigroup Investment Research.
But print advertising is stuck at the same $48-billion level as it was in 2000, and the bump in online ads can't fix that, said Borrell's Gordon Borrell: "It's like a helium balloon trying to lift an aircraft carrier out of the water."
Chronicle Publisher Vega, installed this year after leading the combined operations of two Detroit papers, said he wanted to increase SFGate's revenue by charging readers for whatever they value most. "What's our franchise? I've got to figure what that is," Vega said.