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Emergence of Internet as Marketing Channel 

News portals – Media in the making

With the growth of the Internet, life has become much more comfortable. Shopping, watching movies, listening to the newest music albums and even scrolling through the latest news! All of this can be done by the click of one button. Amazing isn’t it? 

We have often encountered the term called “portal”. What is this portal? A portal can be defined as a Web ‘super site’ that offers its consumers a variety of services – web search, shopping, news, free emails, discussion groups and links to other sites. The leading and most popular web portals are Yahoo, MSN and AOL. Some portals even permit the home page to be personalized. 

According to a survey, portals have become one of the most used news medium by the young generation. Within the age group of 18 years to 24 years, 17percent were using portals to get updated about the news at least once a week! Within the age group of 25 years to 35 years, this percent shot up to 20 percent! However, the percent then experiences a sharp drop for each older age group.

It has been noticed that portal sites are the only online news channel whose usage increases for all the young web users and newsreaders. It is an interesting phenomenon as it might represent a huge shift in the primary news preference - and therefore in the competitive online landscape for news organizations.
This survey was conducted in the year 2005. However, the steady rise in the use of portals for gathering news does not necessarily mean that all the young consumers will stick to this habit, as they get older. If this happens, then there will be a complete remake in the way news is gathered, reported and finally distributed. 

If the young audience today shows its preference for portals over time, all the news agencies might profit in future from the strategies that are aimed at attracting the visitors or consumers who use the portals to view some particular stories or pieces of information rather than the whole home page or section pages. This will make the news sites more story-centered, laying lot of importance on steering the visitors on all the pages and making it easy for them to explore the website. The study also emphasizes that the advantage of news organizations will lie with local reporting – it will be difficult to compete with the portals like Yahoo and Google for both national and International news. Nevertheless, the news agencies will score much higher on the local news front.

Even though the newspapers, television, magazines, journals (in short the whole of print and electronic media) may worry that their position might be taken over by the new age ‘news portals (my article will also contribute to this though process to a great extent), there has been arguments that however scary it might look, news portals actually pose no such threats to its offline competitors. Yahoo News portal has gone ahead to say that “There is no opposition between old and new media but a symbiotic relationship”. Google maintains that the development of news portals opens up a wider avenue for the whole media and even the newspapers can benefit enormously.