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.

Filed Under: , , , ,

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “Old News Can Be Good News For Media Sites”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: 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?

Josef Anvil (profile) says:

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).

Anonymous Coward says:

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.

jupiterkansas (profile) says:

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.

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »

Follow Techdirt

Techdirt Daily Newsletter

Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Discord
The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...