It's been a week or two since our last round-up of all things web publishing, and it is with pride that we announce that newspapers are still alive.

Setting Records

Earlier this week, newspaper pros gathered in Las Vegas for the Newspaper Association of America's first annual mediaXchange conference. Data from Nielsen Online was presented to indicate that average monthly unique audience figures for newspaper Web sites grew by over 7.9 million in January to 74.8 million visitors -- an increase of 11.9 percent over the same period a year ago.

These figures, which comprise home and work Internet usage, are the highest for any month since NAA began tracking the numbers in '04.

January also set records for active reach and pageviews. 44 percent of all active Web users visited newspaper Web sites, an increase of 7.3 percent over the same period last year. Those visitors generated more than 3.7 billion page impressions, an increase of 15.4 percent over January 2008.

Bring on the Techies

A recent article published by Paid Content suggested that:

The very companies that are ensuring newspapers’ online traffic/existence should be leading the dialogue on their survival. Yahoo, Microsoft, Google and AOL— not the editors, journalists and cadre of analysts who have led the newspapers to the brink—should be put in charge of identifying ways to keep a select number of news outlets viable.

Techies have some options. They could simply buy the top three newspapers and create an editorial trust. Or they could host an online “upfront” for marquee media businesses -- much like the TV upfront, which has become a planning and pricing guide for the networks and TV advertisers.

Better yet, they could agree on standard cost-per-click rates to be paid to publishers, which would save newspapers money; or agree to show search results only for original sources of news content, as opposed to outlets that have repurposed it.

Drupal in the Newroom

At DrupalCon DC last week, reps from Mother Jones Magazine, the New York Observer, and other high profile media organizations discussed how they use Drupal in a formal news publishing environment.

The three news orgs have been using the popular open source CMS up to two years, with MoJones having gone live merely 3 weeks ago. McClatchy Interactive -- which presides over the online editions of papers like the Miami Herald -- currently integrates as many as 50 different programs into Drupal.

Presenters covered aspects of user roles and permissions, as well as subscription management, and ways to engage their readers. Video and notes of the workshop are available.

The Great White Hope

Of course, not everything related to web publishing is newspaper-related. Some are book-related.

Kindle 2, for example, garnered its fair share of attention. The new version of Amazon.com's e-book device, recently shipped with an improved display and various other upgrades that provide good usability for reading linear fiction.

Steve Rubel called it "the Great White Hope for Monetizing Print Media" -- recommending it as an  opportunity for media companies to monetize content. He drives the point home thus:

The Kindle, like the iPod, is an emerging critical mass device that actually encourages people to pay for content rather than get it for free.

Jakob Nielsen raved about its interactive design, saying that "turning the page is extremely easy and convenient." But Nielsen also criticized its overall awkward design and the ways it displays non-linear content.

Everybody's a critic. The point is, Kindle 2's become a promising new way to perpetuate the act of reading as we traditionally understand it -- on a whole new medium, and with tasty fixin's, like access to blogs, online news sites and Wikipedia. For better or worse, it's an exciting time to be in print.