Google News Archive Search: Old News is Good News

Space Shuttle Challenger
Old news still has value, and can draw traffic. (Image via Wikipedia)

News is never just about what’s happening today — it’s also about context, including what led up to this moment. That’s why lately I’ve been intrigued by the Google News archive search. This feature, introduced September 2008, its worth a look — and maybe worth including in order to make more money off your historical archives, or to augment current coverage.

The Official Google Blog explains in Bringing history online, one newspaper at a time that this service presents archived news articles online — either as they were printed, preserving original format/context (including, in some cases, surrounding stories); or with a link to a news org’s paid archives. It also presents a timeline, showing how popular a search term was in news from past years or decades.

For instance, a Google News archive search for “space shuttle” yields a timeline with significant spikes in 1981 (for the first shuttle mission), 1986 (when the Challenger exploded after launch), and 2003 (when the Columbia broke up on re-entry).

An example of the early shuttle coverage I found here includes this March 24, 1982 Pittsburgh Post-Gazette story: NASA sees little problem with lost space shuttle tiles. That’s actually a jump from a page 1 story. Other stories also appearing on the page include: “Begin to stay on after Knesset vote,” “Will match missiles with subs, Soviets say,” and “Military coup ousts Guatemalan government” — an intriguing glimpse into the tenor of that time.

That archived story was available for free — but my search also pointed to several articles for sale from newspaper archives. For instance, the Christian Science Monitor is selling its July 21, 1975 story Space shuttle to involve Europe, too for $3.95.

Not every news org’s historical archives are available in the Google News archive. Apparently Google strikes partnerships with news orgs to scan and serve their archives, or to link to existing online archives.

Participating in this service could be a way to turn your history into traffic. The Official Google Blog noted: “Over time, as we scan more articles and our index grows, we’ll also start blending these archives into our main search results so that when you search, you’ll be searching the full text of these newspapers as well.” This means that participating news orgs could find their historic wealth increasingly findable, and thus potentially more compelling and/or lucrative.

(NOTE: I originally published this article on Poynter’s E-Media Tidbits. Thanks to Tech.Blorge for the tip.)

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Future of Journalism Webcast: My Twitter Coverage

On Oct. 28, the 100-year-old Christian Science Monitor sent shockwaves through the news business when it announced that in April 2009 it will switch from daily to weekly print publication, and invest more resources in its online operations. (Poynter coverage by Rick Edmonds.)

This set some pretty interesting context for the Future of Journalism panel discussion that the Monitor hosted last night in Boston. This session was webcast live. (Video will be available later today.) I watched it online and covered it via Twitter.

As I always do, I used my amylive account to provide this live coverage to over 200 people who specifically want it. That’s because my volume of live-coverage posts would tend to overwhelm the nearly 1400 people who follow me at agahran.

Several other Twitter users were also covering or discussing this event, including the Monitor, Jeff Cutler, Wayne Sutton, and Dave Poulson. Many of used the hashtag #CSMFOJ to make all of this easier to find.

Here’s my complete Twitter coverage of this event. I’m posting this as an experiment, to see if this kind of archiving helps me or others. What do you think? Please comment at the end — and bear in mind that posting this compilation is very different from the Twitter experience… Continue reading