Newspapers had to hear a lot of bad news about their business last year, so new findings from Nielsen//NetRatings should come as a welcome change.

Nielsen reported that Web traffic to the blog pages of the top 10 online newspapers grew 210% year over year in December.

The overall unique audience growth for these online newspapers was 9% year over year, but visitors to blog pages accounted for 13% of their December 2006 Web traffic.

"As Web 2.0 becomes a predominant online consumer model, traditional publishers are adopting interactive forums like blogs," said Carolyn Creekmore of Nielsen//NetRatings. "It makes perfect sense for online newspapers, where responding to a blog posting is like writing an instant letter to the editor."

The overall unique audience to the top 10 online newspapers skewed male, 60%, compared with 40% women.

Among newspaper blog pages, though, the skew intensified, 66% men vs. 34% women. But both men and women contributed to audience growth, with men increasing 226% and women increasing 183% year over year.

"Men tend to be both early adopters of new technologies and avid consumers of news," said Ms. Creekmore. "That said, women make up slightly more than half of the active Internet universe and we can expect them to play an increasingly significant role in blog consumption."

Via eMarketer