Google to scan really old newspapers

John Shinal · September 8, 2008 · Short URL:

Search giant will share ad revenue, may be way to generate revenue for dying papers

 Perhaps Google is feeling guilty for helping to accelerate the death sprial of a once-powerful industry that many have viewed as a key component of a healthy democracy.

Or, more likely, it sees a way to make more money by putting old, buried, off-line content onto the Web and selling ads next to it.

That's what it will now do with articles and other material from old newspaper articles. And I do mean old.Google's vice president of product Marissa Mayer debuted the service at the TechCrunch 50 event in San Francisco, showing the front page that featured a story on then-U.S. President Nixon greenlighting the space shuttle program.

For historians, researchers and anyone else who enjoys searching through old newspapers, it could be a gold mine.

It's an expansion of Google ongoing effort to help the New York Times and other marquee papers make money off older articles. That program offers up an abstract of the article but requires Web users to pay to see the whole article.

The new program, which will scan and make available not just text, but headlines and ads, is more similar to Google's program to scan old books and put their content online.

The results will be displayed in the Google News Archive section of Google News

It's signed up several medium-sized papers, including the Quebec Chronicle-Telegraph, St. Petersburg Times and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. 

Google will split the ad revenue with its partner papers.

For an industry that's seen its revenue fall to 1995 levels, any revenue might help.

Last month, Google CEO Eric Schmidt lamented the decline of U.S. papers, saying that the investigative journalism they've long performed is an important service.

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