Sunday, October 01, 2006

Crains reports that Sun-Times web traffic down with Ebert out

The Sun-Times feels the Ebert effect

By Gregory Meyer
Sept. 30, 2006
The Chicago Sun-Times' Web site underwent an overhaul last week, but a redesign isn't likely to make up for the loss of the paper's star attraction: movie critic Roger Ebert.

Mr. Ebert, who is recuperating from surgery for salivary-gland cancer, took a leave of absence at the end of June. Since then the number of visitors to the Sun-Times' has fallen 65%, to 378,000 in August from 1.1 million in June.

That's a problem for the Chicago tabloid and its parent, Sun-Times Media Group Inc. After Mr. Ebert's last column, in June, the Sun-Times' overall visitors fell 25%, to 1.9 million in August.

"For every newspaper, and more so the Sun-Times, a large percentage of their traffic comes from their personalities," says Shawn Riegsecker, president of Centro LLC, an online ad buyer based in Chicago. "The Sun-Times' (leading) personality happens to be Roger Ebert."

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