Print news is dead. No offense, it’s just kind of dead. Like a zombie, it still wanders around hoping to munch on readers and convince people to advertise, but the vast majority of reader attention now goes to the far more accessible and significantly more free online resources. In an attempt to combine the two worlds and give print content a little bit of lifeblood, Google has been offering a service to digitally scan newspapers and make them available online. Even Google seems to acknowledge the undead status of print, however; they’ve dropped the project.
The aim of the project was to help various news groups of different sizes make their content available online, which was a real boon for many publishers. That included the Boston Phoenix, a representative of which stated that the Google project was a good deal, “especially smaller [news groups] like ours, who couldn’t afford the tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars it would have cost to digitally scan and index our archives.” But the Boston Phoenix, as well as many other publishers, were given the news of Google’s abandonment on May 20th.
The project ran from September of 2008 to May of 2011, and all the content scanned will still be available in the Google News Archives. However, no new additional papers will be scanned since Google is trying to focus on “newer projects that help the industry.” In this case that specifically means the Google One Pass, which is designed to help print publishers get their content distributed online to tablet users (although content is generally available on computers, smartphones, and other devices as well). However, Google does have some good news for print publishers who were using the News Archives: all the content that was scanned will now be released, restriction-free, free of charge. A good deal for the print groups? Well, it’s hard to think of anything as a good deal when rigor mortis is setting in.