Server wars: Usage statistics on the Web servers and widgets of newspaper sites

The previous Tools We Use post examined the content management systems of U.S. newspapers. This report focuses on the servers and widgets that power their sites.

I checked the websites of 1,506 U.S. newspapers (1,303 dailies and 203 alternative weeklies), via the tech-decection services of BuiltWith and W3Techs (see methodology below).

A Web server is the software that handles and fulfills incoming requests (e.g., someone clicks on a link and gets an article). The tech-detectors got good data on the Web servers of 1,025 sites (of 1,506 checked). Here are the server statistics for U.S. print newspaper sites:

Servers used by U.S. Newspaper sites

Like the rest of the Internet, most news sites run on either Apache or Nginx — both free, open-source servers — or on Microsoft's proprietary Internet Information Services (IIS). But websites aren't just servers and CMSs. Much Web widget-ry drives modern news sites. Here are some widgets newspapers prefer (with percentage of the 1,506 papers using them):

Top 10 ad widgets:
  1. (80%)
  2. Google AdSense (74)
  3. Google Publisher Tag (64%)
  4. AppNexus 1002 (61%)
  5. Openads/OpenX (56%)
  6. Turn (53%)
  7. Criteo (49%)
  8. (48%)
  9. The Trade Desk (47%)
  10. BlueKai (47%)
Top 10 analytics tools:
  1. Google Analytics (70%)
  2. Quantcast Measurement (61%)
  3. comScore (59%)
  4. MediaMath(57%)
  5. Google Webmaster (53%)
  6. Lotame Crowd Control (52%)
  7. Rapleaf (49%)
  8. Everest Technologies (45%)
  9. Efficient Frontier (44%)
  10. DoubleClick Floodlight (43%)
Top 5 social sites widgets:
  1. Facebook for Websites (73%)
  2. Facebook SDK (68%)
  3. Twitter Platform (59%)
  4. Facebook Domain Insights (58%)
  5. Facebook Like Button (44&)
Top 5 mobile adaptations:
  1. Viewport Meta tag (72%)
  2. max-width CSS (71%)
  3. min-width CSS (60%)
  4. Apple Mobile Web Clips Icon (50%)
  5. Device Pixel Ratio (48%)
Top 10 JavaScript libraries:
  1. jQuery (90%)
  2. SWFObject (65%)
  3. jQuery UI (53%)
  4. html5shiv (46%)
  5. Modernizr (45%)
  6. Google API (44%)
  7. RequireJS (40%)
  8. Backbone.js (40%)
  9. jQuery Cookie (39%)
  10. matchMedia (35%)
Top font sources:
  • Google Fonts API (67%)
  • Font Awesome (29%)
  • Typekit (0.4%)
  • Adobe Edge Web Fonts (0.001%)

At U.S. newspaper sites the social-sharing widget AddThis (34 percent) is beating competitor ShareThis (15 percent). Akamai, a content delivery network (CDN), runs on 66 percent of the news sites. CloudFront, Amazon's CDN, runs on 42 percent. Only 42 percent had a detectable RSS feed. And 46 percent use Varnish Cache to speed up their site. Tube Mogul and TidalTV are video ad services. I'd never heard of either but newspapers have: their widgets run on 37 percent and 32 percent, respectively, of the sites checked.


The name of the server can often easily be determined from the HTTP header information a site sends in response to a URL request (e.g., a visitor clicking a link to a webpage).

BuiltWith was the source of all the widget data. A huge thanks to them for donating an account to the Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute.

The list of U.S. newspaper sites comes mostly from the Editor & Publisher's Data Book, with about 200 more added from the databases of Cision and the Alliance for Audited Media, Wikipedia's list of newspapers and alternative weeklies, and the members directories of the Association for Alternative Newsmedia and the Alternative Weekly Network.

This report includes data only from U.S. print newspapers with active websites, and only dailies and alternative weeklies. This study does not include community weeklies, which are mostly smaller operations with much less circulation.

The top image is the 1977-1978 staff of the Christian College Microphone, the student newspaper of Christian College, setting up their printer. The school is now named Columbia College and its student paper is The Columbian. (Photo courtesy of Columbia College.)

Tools We Use series

  1. Publishing print newspapers online: CMSs
  2. Publishing print newspapers online: Servers
  3. Newspaper names

Need for Speed series

  1. Newspaper load times give 'slow news days' new meaning
  2. Newspaper data diving, metrics and methodologies
  3. A news diet for overweight newspaper sites

Barrett Golding  
Residential fellow


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