Channel 12 News (KPNX-TV) has split off from AzCentral after a 14-year partnership, and now hopes people visit its own site.
The station will clearly struggle to draw a respectable amount of traffic to its site, 12News.com, for years to come.
One big help would be an immediate improvement to the watered-down news the site is now offering.
The de-merger follows the announcement last summer by Gannett Corporation that it would split into two companies, one for newspaper publishing and the other for TV stations and non-journalistic Internet sites like cars.com. The move was widely seen as a way to placate investors worried about long-term negative trends in the newspaper industry.
While those trends are real, Channel 12's website will likely never gain the pull of the Arizona Republic's newspaper-based site, azcentral.com. The latter site started in 1995, when the World Wide Web was in its infancy. On the Alexa.com traffic-ranking site, azcentral.com comes in at 1,004 in the United States. That's not as good as nytimes.com -- No. 29 nationally -- but it's still pretty good.
Alexa's ranking for 12News.com is 71,258 for the United States and does not score high enough for the traffic site to record historical data. While not a perfect indicator of how many people are going to the site this week, it gives an idea of the hurdles faced by the station.
Internet records show that Gannett purchased 12News.com in 1998. However, instead of promoting the domain name, the station partnered with the Arizona Republic in 2001 and put its content on AzCentral. Over the years, anyone who typed in "12News.com" on their browser would be redirected to azcentral.
No Arizona Republic content is on the 12News site. But if you scroll down on azcentral, you'll find a clickable box asking, "Looking for the new 12News.com?" It's unclear how many actually are looking for it, though, or how many realized the 12News content was missing from AzCentral.
"I think it's a huge opportunity," John Misner, president and general manager of KPNX-TV, says optimistically of the website split. "As soon as consumers understand they can access our brand of local news on their computer, it's going to be very popular."
The 12News site launched formally last week, Misner says, confirming the move was part of the split between Gannett's broadcast and publishing divisions. Promotions starting this week will let consumers know the site is available on their tablets, smartphones or home computers. News broadcasts -- both regularly scheduled and breaking news -- can be accessed on the site immediately as they go live, at no cost, he says.
As news consumers who prefer getting TV news on a station's website because it's convenient and saves time, we're trying to train ourselves to check the Channel 12 site. The station has several broadcast journalists we like and occasionally breaks important stories.
But as we've seen from perusing the site in the last couple of days, the difference in newsiness between it and azcentral is striking, as the two screen-grabs below show. The station features nothing on the Sheriff Arpaio contempt hearing this week, for instance.
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