newspapers03.31.09.jpgAccording to a report from Gartner Inc., newspapers need to do much, much more to engage the social side of their readers if they hope to compete in the increasingly difficult marketplace.

Specifically, newspaper Web sites fail to integrate social media tools effectively. As a result, while 49 percent of those surveyed use search engines to find news or content every week (and that number seems low), only 20 percent use search tools that exist on newspaper and magazine sites.

This trend mimics one discussed in Mark Bowden‘s Vanity Fair article about The New York Times that made the round yesterday. In it, the author discusses how one of the revolutions of the Web — one that newspapers failed to capitalize upon — is that news has become deaggregated.

Those who grew up using the Internet, which now includes a full generation of Americans, are expert browsers. It’s not that they have short attention spans. If anything, many of them are more sophisticated and better informed than their parents. They are certainly more independent. Instead of absorbing the news and opinion packaged expertly by professional journalists, they search out only the information they want, and are less and less likely to devote themselves to one primary site, in part because it is less efficient, and in part because not doing so is liberating. The Internet has disaggregated the news.

These latest numbers from Gartner would suggest newspapers still aren’t learning any lessons.