Hidden treasures in the archiveMost newspapers date back tens, if not hundreds, of years. Extensive archives date back to first editions, the last words of a loved editor, some of mankind's darkest days and brightest moments. A lot of this history is hidden in dark basement archives, where it only comes out on request by historians or other research scientists.
Basically the archives have no value until someone reaches in to them, views the microfilms or gently turns the century-old pages in their hunt for source material. But what if newspaper archives were instantly accessible and searchable? What if anyone could tap into the riches of history and discover stories and events as seen by those who actually witnessed them?
Building digital archives seems like a no-brainer. Scan the old paper editions or microfilms, store them on a webserver, and boom! History for everyone. In reality it's slightly more complex but you get the idea. The real question is; what's in it for the publishers? Their frequent readers get access to an abundance of historic content, but where is the business model?
Keepers of Cultural Heritage
Ingeniøren (The Engineer), a Danish technical industry newspaper, digitized their archives with more than a hundred years of technical journalism and history. The project was partly crowdfunded by readers, and Ingeniøren has no economic interest in the now public archive. That's not to say that the past is worthless.
Instant access to archived editions of newspapers allows the use of historic knowledge in new journalism, giving journalists previously unimaginable access to source material.
Newspapers are high credibility witnesses to the evolution of society and culture. By embracing that past, they are able to create strong ties to both present and future readers. But is that enough to make extensive archiving valuable to the publisher? And would readers be willing to pay for archive access?
What do you think? Could the past be part of the newspaper business model of tomorrow?
Get your own copy of the newest report on archive solutions with data based insights on:
- How important an archive is to your readers
- How you digitize your archive
- The benefits digital archives give other media houses: Case studies with Flensburg Avis and Ingeniøren