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 Google.com, 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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Listening to Tony Schwartz

Today I was out and about running several errands, catching up on my backlog of podcasts. Two shows that came up in the queue really got my attention, and I think everyone involved in media (especially online or mobile media, particularly any media with an audio component) should listen — REALLY listen — to them both in full.

They’re both retrospectives of Tony Schwartz — an agoraphobic genius who produced over 30,000 sound recordings, thousands of groundbreaking political ads, media theory books and Broadway sound design. He also invented the portable tape recorder and was a pioneering folklorist. He died in June.

I feel like an idiot. For all my work in media, I knew nothing of Schwartz’s work. Until today. Now I’m obsessed. He pulled together the threads of human nature, psychology, the nature and effects of sound, motivation, persuasion, provocation, media and communication in clearly human terms.

So I’ll be learning more about his work. Here’s a sample:

In the meantime, here are the podcasts that grabbed my attention:

Serious motivational music!

In need of some extra ooomph to get you going? This should do the trick: The Helian’ Man, sung by Matt McGinn, a ballad about Scottish raids about a thousand years ago that led Roman emperor Hadrian to build a 73-mile wall across Britain.

I heard this song on the radio about 15 years ago, when I still lived in Pennsylvania. Ever since then, when I’ve found myself in need of motivation or facing a serious challenge, I’ve sometimes found myself bellowing “Grigalie! Grigaloo! Come up and fight, you cowardly crew! I’ll have you for my pot of stew! You fear to fight with me!”

It works pretty well. Sometimes as well as a kickboxing workout :-)

Here are the lyrics…

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