Old News Can Be Good News For Media Sites

from the if-they-recognized-it dept

One strategy we've seen some media sites use over the years for their web properties is to lock up the "archives" and charge for access to it, on the assumption that if people want to see old stories, there must be some reason, for which they'd be willing to spend. Separately, many media properties assume that the only thing that really matters for generating traffic is the "breaking news." There's so much emphasis on "the scoop" and "being first," and very little emphasis on the follow through. It turns out, that may be a pretty big mistake. Chas Edwards highlights how some newspapers are discovering, to their own surprise, that old news can get an awful lot of traffic from social media sharing:
Apparently London’s Independent, as it rolled out the Open Graph, learned that several quirky stories from the late 1990s are the most shared stories of the early 2010s. (More data here.) If news publishers are sitting a goldmine of buried archival content, imagine the opportunity for publishers outside the breaking-news category if they can figure out how to resurface those great stories from last month, last year, or a decade ago.
This is actually something we've been really interested in lately. We see it happen quite frequently with our own archives. Suddenly, for no clear reason, a story from years ago will become wildly popular on Twitter or Facebook, and we'll get a ton of useful traffic. In fact, we made this point back in January, when we dug into "the numbers" from 2011 and discovered that our most popular post in 2011... was actually from 2010. It will be interesting to see if publishers can start to figure out ways to do more with "old news" rather than just assigning it to the "discarded" pile. I know it's an area that we're planning to explore more deeply in the coming months, so it's interesting to see others thinking along similar lines.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 14th, 2012 @ 1:09am

    Old news, new ads.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 14th, 2012 @ 1:51am

    I also saw the movie "Idiocracy", and the role advertising played in it.

    The fact you're encouraging such a landscape kinda makes you anathema to both me and any future offspring.

     

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      Mike Masnick (profile), Mar 14th, 2012 @ 3:16am

      Re:

      I also saw the movie "Idiocracy", and the role advertising played in it.


      Yeah, because a silly comedy movie clearly defines the future.

      The fact you're encouraging such a landscape kinda makes you anathema to both me and any future offspring.


      I didn't even mention advertising in this article, because I wasn't even talking about advertising. How the hell is encouraging open access to information about "encouraging a landscape" that is akin to Idiocracy?

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Mar 14th, 2012 @ 4:56am

        Re: Re:

        Are you telling me Apes wont rule the world one day?

        My dreams have been shattered!

         

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          TheStupidOne, Mar 14th, 2012 @ 2:04pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          "Are you telling me Apes wont rule the world one day?"

          Sadly we apes will eventually be replaced by roaches, mold, or robots someday.

           

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        The Devil's Coachman (profile), Mar 14th, 2012 @ 5:43am

        Re: Re:

        Actually, Mike, I thought the movie "Idiocracy" was a documentary about the current sociopolitical environment in the US. I like dystopian comedies as much as the next person, but that movie hit too close to home, and based on what I have read in them, most of the forums I lurk or troll on seem to support that. ; )

         

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 14th, 2012 @ 3:38am

    I could enjoy the highlighting of old interesting stories, once a week one of the people on a site digs up an old story they enjoy for one reason or another and talks about it. Could include updates to what happened or just a talk about why it's interesting or important.

     

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    Josef Anvil (profile), Mar 14th, 2012 @ 4:02am

    No brainer

    I've made this same comment in response to a number of TechDirt articles. This is a no brainer. Newspapers and TV stations have a huge amount of content that is no longer in circulation other than in our collective memories. For all the talk about piracy and business models, it just seems natural that they would want to "cash in" on all that content that is just not being watched or read because they don't put it out there to be consumed.

    They can sell ads for it like they always have. Maybe not the top tier of revenue they want, but a whole lot of something is better than not generating any revenue on old content and whining about no new revenue streams ( or cannibalizing old ones).

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 14th, 2012 @ 4:09am

    Election seasons are always heavy with historical article information. This was true even in the days when articles had to be laboriously hand-typed into a Usenet post if you wanted to quote it and references were more likely to be a library file-o-dex card than a URL.

    Elections are always a good time to point out that politician X was just as much of a saint/criminal as he or she is now. Reference the recent Ron Paul article, with his supporters linking to articles from more than a decade ago in an effort to prove how consistent he is.

     

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    Rob, Mar 14th, 2012 @ 4:16am

    Old news

    Often the stumbleupon posts you put up are 2 or 3 years old. One I clicked to from techdirt recently was 2008. Its often interesting to see the view of the past.

     

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    identicon
    Rob, Mar 14th, 2012 @ 4:16am

    Old news

    Often the stumbleupon posts you put up are 2 or 3 years old. One I clicked to from techdirt recently was 2008. Its often interesting to see the view of the past.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

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    Pixelation, Mar 14th, 2012 @ 7:41am

    Hey Mike,

    Time for a paywall to get your old stories!

     

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    jupiterkansas (profile), Mar 14th, 2012 @ 7:54am

    My local newspaper (Kansas City Star) does this and I have complained to them about it and I don't really understand what they're thinking.

    Even worse, when the article goes into the archive, all you get when you click on a link is a "404 Page Not Found" No information on how to access the article in archives, or what the article is about, or that it even existed. I guess the 404 page has ads on it, so that's something.

    Also, they charge access to the archive articles, but you can access it for free through the local library. I guess they're making a killing selling access to the library.

    If anything it just seems like they put a system into place 10 years ago, and are unwilling to change. Of course, they've been firing people left and right as ad revenue has tanked.

    They're really shooting themselves in the foot with something that seems like a no brainer.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 14th, 2012 @ 8:58am

    'Idiocracy' wasn't supposed to be a how-to manual

     

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    AB, Mar 14th, 2012 @ 9:36am

    "Breaking News" no longer caries the value it used to (back in the old days when we still trusted the news media). These days I tend to assume any headline is false or misleading until it can be verified against other sources. To me 'old' news is actually more valuable because I can cross-check it for greater accuracy.

     

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    PB, Mar 14th, 2012 @ 1:30pm

    A reminder, however, that the Internet is *not* a (public) library.

    Putting our history behind a paywall has, to my mind, some negative implications.

     

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