Gannett Internet usage stat questioned

Letter to Romenesko
From DUANE MARSTELLER, former Gannett employee: In celebrating its first day on its own, the “new” Gannett has been touting a stat that claims that it accounts for 40% of Internet usage.

The company also has made the claim in earnings reports, on its web site and I also saw it included in one USA Today story on company earnings. There was no attribution for the figure, which seemed rather high to me, so I looked into it.

I found a comScore report from January that said Gannett sites have 105,237,000 unique visitors/viewers, which is about 40 percent of the total of some 252 million.

My question is: Is this the source of Gannett’s claim, and if so, is the company representing the data accurately? To me, the comScore figures are a measure of audience reach, not internet usage as Gannett is claiming.

If I’m wrong, then it’s staggering that a news company could so dominate an Internet full of porn sites and cute cat videos. If I’m right, then it’s ironic that a company whose newspapers take glee in calling out others’ misrepresentations is guilty of misrepresentation itself.

* “Here’s a #NewGannett stat that will blow your freaking mind” (@Riley_Sarah)

New: “It’s reach, not usage – and those are different things” (

STATEMENT FROM GANNETT SPOKESPERSON AMBER ALLMAN: “The stat is via comScore per multi-platform visitors and speaks to the fact that Gannett sites REACH 40% of the U.S. online internet population. It is saying 40% of internet users access New Gannett (USA TODAY and our domestic publishing assets) content via their PC, phone or tablet devices. 40% of total internet visitors (according to comScore universe).”