Posted January 19, 2010 12:38 pm by with 15 comments

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The third annual News Users report from research firm Outsell has some interesting findings. While more and more people are going online for their news, and fewer people are getting their information from newspapers, it seems that many online news consumers are more like . . . well, “grazers.” And this might actually be good news for Germany’s Federation of Newspaper Publishers.

TechCrunch reports that 44% of US visitors to Google News do not click on any headlines, preferring instead to skim article snippets. Unsurprisingly, the Internet is becoming an ever more popular source for news, especially what Outsell calls “news right now,” with 56% of consumers turning to online news sources (up from 33% a few years ago).

Google News and other aggregators are a more likely destination than a single paper’s website, as well, with 31% going for the aggregator and only 8% picking a news site. (18% chose other. I guess, with rounding errors, that adds up to the 56ish% turning to online news sources?)

Of course, the numbers on the Internet eroding newspapers’ subscriber base aren’t surprising. Two months ago, we saw that American consumers were will to pay as much as $3 a month for their news (which I thought was kind of crappy, though many disagreed). Turns out it’s even crappier than I thought—according to Outsell, 75% would turn to a different source if their local newspaper sites put up a pay wall, and only 10% are willing to pay for a newspaper subscription to get online access. (Cough, NY Times, cough.)

The more interesting concept here, however, is that Outsell sees Google News becoming a destination for news instead of a starting point, like Google Search is. That might actually bode well for at least one competitor—Germany’s Federation of Newspaper Publishers. As we saw yesterday, the publishers are suing Google News as a monopoly for displaying snippets from their stories. (Robots.txt. Srsly.) If it turns out that many consumers are only reading the snippets and German newspapers aren’t seeing the downstream traffic, their case may have a little more merit.

And then they could just block Google News.

What do you think? Is Google News (along with other aggregators) becoming a destination for online news? Will this US data help out the German newspaper publishers’ case?