The early conventional wisdom was that the irregular newspaper reader was all too pleased to get the content free online and readily left the paper behind.
The next orthodoxy was that the remaining newspaper readership was steady and loyal and used the Web site between editions to receive breaking news and several online-only features.
But a new study from the Annenberg School of Communications at USC suggests a larger body of people do give up their papers when they can get the content online.
The study was conducted last June and suggests 22 per cent of Internet users have cancelled a newspaper subscription because of the availability of the content online. What isn't clear in the study is whether these were newspaper loyalists in the first place, but the notion they were subscribers suggests they were stronger customers than many of the early departing customers.
But the numbers are interesting for online newspaper readership: An average of 53 minutes a week on the Internet, well up from previous years and 41 minutes in 2007.
The annual USC study indicates that online remains the best opportunity for newspaper success in the years ahead, but that new models will need to be built to create a sustainable operation.