The most-visited newspaper websites — errantly labeled the "top sites" by the Nieman Journalism Lab — all posted big gains in readership in 2008. While the absolute numbers from Nielsen Online guesstimates aren't worth much (and don't work at all for small sites like LAO) the trends and ordering seem solid enough. The New York Times is out front by a huge margin, followed by USA Today and the Washington Post, then the L.A. Times and the Wall Street Journal are neck and neck. Here's an accompanying chart on the top 5, also via Romenesko.
Meanwhile at the LAT: The Times debuted a new design for the L.A. Now blog that adds news feeds from competitors such as the Register and Daily News, local TV news stations and two blogs: LAist and CurbedLA. The billing also gets away from the exclusivity of old: "from the staff of the Los Angeles Times and KTLA 5 [and] Fox 5 San Diego." Still missing are the names of the journalists posting. Sometimes you want to know, before deciding whether to click, if it's an original item from a reporter such as David Zahniser at City Hall or Evan Halper in Sacramento, or a rip-and-read by the blog editor cribbing from Twitter or the web. Looks as if L.A. Now has relegated the reporters' names to a credit line, unlinked, at the end.