The Internet is a key resource for radio newsrooms across America. Usage is up to 100%, according to a recent News Generation survey of 50 local and network radio stations. That’s a seven percent increase over the last two years, and now that the Internet has become an important tool of the newsroom trade, daily usage is projected to increase as well. One third of the stations in our survey expect to spend anywhere from ten to 20% more time on the Internet over the next two years.

Overwhelmingly, the sites most frequently visited by both local and network stations are newspaper sites. In fact, ninety percent of all stations surveyed still regard their local newspaper as the most credible, in-depth and valuable source of local information. The second most vital source is ‘the competition,’ considered to be all other radio and television stations competing for a share of the audience in any given market.

Sites that provide newsrooms with unique story ideas also get a lot of traffic. More than half of the stations surveyed use the Internet to search for attention-grabbing and unusual stories. This is where content-rich websites can distinguish themselves. Three out of every four local stations indicate they would visit a content-rich website daily, if it provides local information, contains credible content and is easy to navigate.

Without hesitation, radio reporters and producers say accuracy and simplicity are the two most important qualities of any website. They also tell us, e-mail clutter is their worst enemy. Seventy five percent do not want media sites bombarding them with e-mail and 50% still prefer to be pitched by phone or fax.

As technology improves, radio outlets, both networks and local stations, are looking forward to expanding their ability to reach Internet users. Right now, nine out of 10 of the local stations we studied and all the networks provide the ‘top stories of the day’ on their websites. This gives Internet users round-the-clock access to local and national news. Offering audible newscasts will be the next primary challenge to radio broadcasters and the next area of growth and opportunity in radio news. Stay tuned as News Generation continues to keep the pulse on radio station trends in coming newsletters. And,¬†for a taste of our own content-rich station site.