Web Cartoon Bolsters Visits to Newsday

The audience for newspapers
may be getting older but if the success of Newsday’s Web site is any
indication, there may be a silver lining in the graying cloud.

Many people in the industry expressed surprise when, for the second consecutive month,
ranked in the top five of the most visited newspaper Web sites, with
6.45 million unique visitors in December, an increase of 183 percent
from the previous year, according to data from Nielsen Online.

Newsday’s online audience even surpassed The Wall Street Journal’s
last month. For most of 2007, had two million to three
million unique visitors a month, Nielsen Online data showed.

The huge jump was in large part attributed to the popularity of an animated cartoon by Walt Handelsman, an editorial cartoonist at Newsday who has won the Pulitzer Prize twice.

One cartoon that recently attracted viewers featured a baby boomer
couple coping with aging problems like knee replacements, using the
song lyrics “Bored, tubby and mild” sung to the tune of “Born to Be

Mr. Handelsman, who is 51 and falls into the baby boomer demographic
himself, began using an online technology in 2006 to create animated
video snippets and now has his own blog on the Newsday site.

“Showing his cartoons on the blog makes it a lot easier for users to
share or send his cartoons around,” said Debby Krenek, managing editor
at Newsday who oversees interactive efforts.

The newspaper, based in Melville, N.Y., has also been increasing its
overall online efforts by using new technology to draw search engines,
she added.

“We are creating Facebook widgets for news headlines and other sites to target particular types of traffic increases,” Ms. Krenek said.

Since November, the baby boomer animated video has drawn more than
3,000 comments on Newsday’s Web page and many more on other sites.


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