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Google News Archive Boosts News Partnerships

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Google News Archive Boosts News Partnerships

Google News Archive Boosts News Partnerships

Chris Sherman in his Search Day article has a good general overview of the new Google News Archive search, introduced today. (Topix recently released a year-long archive of searchable news stories.) In some cases Google News Archive offers 18th and 19th Century newspaper articles (see below).

To my knowledge, there isn’t anything readily available to the public with comparable historical scope. (Comparable information is available via library databases, but is somewhat more challenging to obtain.)

I spoke to Google earlier today about the new service. For reasons not entirely clear to me Google stressed that this was not a new vertical but a feature of existing Google News, a way to gain more information and perspective on stories, events, people. Here are a few diverse examples:

* Middle East Conflict
* Tiger Woods
* Russian Revolution
* Princess Diana
* Fidel Castro
* American Revolution (info goes back to contemporary sources in late 18th Century)
* US Civil War (again, contemporary coverage available)
* Timothy Leary

If you click on any of the links above, you’ll see the immediate value to students, journalists, researchers, history buffs or curious readers eager for more information. Google has also made is possible to search by date and publication. In other words I can find the stories on Winston Churchill published during WWII by Time Magazine.

There’s a mix of free and fee-based sources in the database. Google said it’s not monetizing the content or the page views, taking nothing from any of the partner fee-based transactions that may be driven by the new service. There’s no integration with Google Checkout, Google Book Search or Google Scholar. At least in the latter two cases, some form of integration might make sense but Google was steadfast in saying that these services are all separate and for separate audiences.

Google also said that it is launching with a group of partners, but plans to continue to add content and partners on an ongoing basis. A sampling of initial partners includes Time Magazine, The NY Times, Washington Post, The WSJ, Lexis/Nexis and Factiva.

I could go on about the features or why this is an interesting or good service for readers/researchers. But what’s really most interesting to me is the way in which it stands the Google-newspaper relationship on its head.

Why?

Newspapers and news gathering organizations have been famously ambivalent about Google News (and in at least one case litigious). In short the concern is that news aggregators create powerful online destinations for consumers and build brands on the backs of news content but don’t deliver commensurate value to local newspaper sites and organizations. Clearly this is not a uniformly held view. But there has been widely held skepticism and concern in the newspaper industry about whether Google was friend or foe.

What News Archive immediately does is turn Google into the newspaper fee-based archive’s best friend. Suddenly newspapers can expose paid or fee-based content through Google that they would have little opportunity to present as effectively on their own. Google News Archive now becomes a free, potentially powerful marketing tool for newspapers (or at least their archives).

(My memory is that Yahoo proposed a similar but broader initiative around content and micro-payments but I couldn’t find any information on it this evening.)

While it remains to be seen how effective it will be in driving content payments to newspaper organizations, in a kind of masterstroke Google has at once created a valuable consumer tool and proven value with selected newspaper publishers and maybe the broader industry.

Here’s another general overview from Kevin Delaney at the WSJ (sub req’d) and a piece from AP’s Mike Liedtke with some quotes from partners about the value they see the relationship delivering to their organizations.

Greg Sterling is the founding principal of Sterling Market Intelligence, a consulting and research firm focused on online consumer and advertiser behavior and the relationship between the Internet and traditional media, with an emphasis on the local marketplace.

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