Jupiter: News sites flourish after attacks

Reflecting the public's insatiable hunger for news following the Sept. 11 attacks in the U.S., the most-visited sites on the Web last month were news sites, according to a report released Monday by Jupiter Media Metrix Inc.

News sites experienced a jump in activity last month as the public scrambled to keep abreast of breaking developments after terrorist attacks rocked New York and Washington, D.C. More than 50 million people visited news sites in September, spending significantly more time online than in the previous month, Jupiter reported.

CNN.com was the top news site, with 24.8 million unique visitors last month, up 141 percent from the previous month. Users spent an average of 33 minutes on CNN.com in September, 39 percent more than the average 23.8 minutes they spent in August.

MSNBC.com was the second most popular news source, with 22.2 million unique visitors in September, up 66 percent from August. Users spent an average of 32.1 minutes on MSNBC.com last month, 46 percent more than the average 22 minutes they spent on the site in the previous month.

These two news powerhouses were followed by Time.com, with 9.5 million unique visitors in September, and ABC News (abc.go.com), with 8.9 million unique visitors.

Although the anthrax scares currently gripping the U.S. were not known in September, the top online newcomer for the month was a pharmaceutical site called Abpharmacy.com, which boasted 10.1 million unique visitors in September, with a majority of traffic spurred by pop-up ads, Jupiter analysts reported.

Other newcomers that were driven by the attacks included Doubtlessdesigns.net, a documentary-style photo essay site, and fundraising sites Tributetoheroes.org and Libertyunites.org. Doubtlessdesign.net had 2.6 million unique visitors in September, while Tributetoheroes.org and Libertyunites.org had 2.1 million and 733,000, respectively.

Overall top-visited sites were the collective properties of the AOL Time Warner Inc. network, with over 81 million unique visitors, followed by the MSN-Microsoft Corp. sites with 70 million unique visitors.

Yahoo Inc. properties, meanwhile, boasted 65.5 million unique users in September.

The sites that experienced the most growth in unique visitors between August and September were the network of Homestore.com sites, which grew 92.7 percent from 7.3 million to 14.1 million visitors over the period. Homestore.com features real estate and home furnishing products.

Second in visitor growth were the properties of New York Times Digital, which swelled 86.3 percent from August to 10.3 million unique visitors in September.

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