With so much information available online, the printed newspaper might not have much time left. In the information age, opening the paper today to read about what happened yesterday seems incredibly slow. They’re not searchable, and their size is unwieldy for folks used to reading news on a laptop or iPhone. Plus they generate waste, and your fingers get all inky. That said, I’ve fond memories of reading through the funnies and the sports section on Sunday mornings as a kid. My wife wrote for a daily paper, too. The newspaper was our culture’s medium of record for generations, and it deserves better than to merely vanish into obsolescence.
Leave it to Google to make newspapers searchable. Google will partner with newspaper publishers to digitize archived issues and make more papers available online. You can still read them as they were originally printed — that includes headlines, articles, photos, ads, letters to the editor, maybe even an ink smudge or two. “Over time,” the Google blog says, “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.” Cool!
Google’s newspaper digitization project will allow your students to use primary source material to view history through the lens of people experiencing it. It also means they won’t have to head to the library to squint at microfiche editions of old newspapers for that research paper you assigned them.
Sure, the newspaper doesn’t have as many features as today’s online media, but it’s an important part of our heritage as an informed society. Now a lot of that heritage will be available digitally, and easier to access than ever before. I just hope they don’t forget to digitize the funny pages. -BILL FERRIS
Bringing history online, one newspaper at a time via the Official Google Blog
Google Launches Newspaper Digitization Project via Lifehacker