The New York Times lost 80 million homepage visitors—half the traffic to the nytimes.com page—in two years. That's according to this graphic, taken from an internal review of Times digital strategy obtained by BuzzFeed.
This is the clearest illustration of the demise of homepages I've seen. (Well, not literally the clearest; it's somewhat grainy, in an apropos way.) News used to be a destination, and you would go find it on your driveway and in your browser. Now you're the destination, and "information—status updates, photos of your friends, videos of Solange, and sometimes even news articles—come at you; they find you," Quartz's Zach Seward writes.
If the clicks aren't coming from homepages, where are they coming from? Facebook, Twitter, social media, and the mix of email and chat services summed up as "dark social" (dark, because it's hard for publishers to trace). Here's the incoming traffic data from the BuzzFeed network (a bundle of popular sites including BuzzFeed, Huffington Post, the Times, New York magazine, and The Atlantic) in the first three months of 2014.
News publishers lost the homepage firehose, and gained a social media flood. This social flood corresponds with the emergence of another powerful piece of technology: audience analytics software that tells digital publishers what people are reading, and how long they're reading it, with greater specificity than ever.