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Publishers publish their articles at these peak times

Despite the possibility of being able to publish articles at any time, there are factors that influence peak times. In addition to traditional user behavior, this is above all: core working hours, which with shift work in journalism extend from the morning into the evening. However, our analysis shows who, for example, also produces at night due to extended shift systems or foreign offices - and where online activity is still influenced by print rhythms.

For this purpose, the data startup azernis, together with Medieninsider, examined the publication times of eleven national online publishers. In the four weeks from January 9, 2023 to February 5, all articles published within the top 20 positions on the front pages of Bild, FAZ, Focus Online, NTV, RND, Spiegel, Stern, SZ, Tagesschau, Welt and Zeit were analyzed.

Overall, it can be seen that the day starts early in the editorial offices. The first articles appear between 6 and 7 a.m., but the majority appear after 9 a.m.. The fact that publications follow core working hours becomes apparent from the fact that most articles appear between 4 and 5 pm. This does however not really correspond with the usage behavior of readers, who mainly catch up on the news between 7 a.m. and 9 a.m. in the morning (and in some cases even earlier for some user groups). This is where Focus Online stands out. Here, alot articles appear before 6 a.m. - in our study period, only in the hour to 11 a.m. do more articles appear. However, from 4 p.m. onward, the number of articles published per hour decreases continuously. At the Süddeutsche, on the other hand, editorial operations only really seem to start from 10 a.m. onwards. For morning readers, there is more content from the previous day and less news, similar to a printed edition.

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The output at Zeit Online is more clearly distributed. Here, roughly the same number of articles appear per hour throughout the day, with peaks in our study period at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m.. What is striking is that output then drops significantly until the early morning. The separation of the editorial teams in print and online seems to pay off in this respect. At Zeit Online, new articles are published almost around the clock. Only between 9 p.m. and 4 a.m. does the number of new texts drop noticeably.

Out of all the grids, Bild falls out. While the number of articles increases from 8 a.m. onward and holds steady per hour throughout the day, the graph strikes out at 9 p.m.. A total of 300 articles appear around the 9 p.m. hour during the study period. This continues to show a large dependence on the printed edition. The publications are mostly articles produced for the next day's newspaper.

It stays silent at night at Stern and RND

Many publishers operate differently during the night. At Bild, a pattern can be discerned in January. Here, the focus is on the ratings-boosting TV show "Ich bin ein Star" and articles on games in the American Football League NFL and talk shows such as Anne Will or Maybrit Illner are also published at night after the TV broadcast.

Bild shares this mix of sports and TV program coverage with many other publishers. The “jungle camp”, in particular, is reported on in a timely manner. Overall, 34 percent of articles about the show go online at night. Of the publishers studied, only Tagesschau, Welt and Zeit Online did not report on the reality show. These four publishers, along with Spiegel and SZ, on the other hand, report more on political news from the U.S. at night. So the publishers' foreign studios are paying off in this respect, with online reporting immediately after the events.

The total share of all articles in the nighttime hours is 28 percent. The most active publishers at night between 8 p.m. and 8 a.m. are Bild, Spiegel, FAZ, Welt and Zeit. Stern, SZ and Tagesschau publish the fewest articles. At RND and Stern, no new articles appear at all during some hours of the night. Tagesschau shows a strong focus on a core time between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m., which can probably be explained more by working time regulations than by user-centeredness. At night, the number of new Tagesschau articles is in the midfield of the publishers studied.

These are the days when the most happens

The number of new articles per weekday also differs greatly in some cases. Here, too, the adherence to old patterns of the analog newspaper world without weekend editions is evident. On average, the number of articles drops by around 30 percent from weekdays to weekends among the publishers studied. The difference is greatest at Süddeutsche Zeitung and Welt, each with around 43 percent. At NTV and Bild, on the other hand, the difference is much smaller. There, only about 14.5 percent fewer articles are published online on weekends.

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Most articles are published on Thursdays and Fridays, the fewest articles on Saturdays and Sundays. During the week, the fewest articles are published on Mondays. However, one possible explanation lies not only in the editorial offices themselves. Upstream processes in the tickers of news agencies and politics, which is supposedly less eventful on weekends, also contribute.

Overall, it can be seen that some publishers are adapting more to the usage habits of their audience than others. Nevertheless, behaviors and patterns from the analog newspaper world are still visible online, which cannot be explained online by the users, but more by habits of the editorial staff.

About azernis: azernis enables editorial offices to perform data-driven competitive analysis, digitizing and accelerating manual processes. Some interesting facts from the start-up's database are published here monthly in cooperation with Medieninsider.

This article was first published on on 14.02.2023 in german.The original can be found here.

About this article

Written by Stefan Paulus

Published at: 8/23/2023, 3:00:00 PM

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