Publications Slowly Realizing That Freeing Up Archives Makes Sense

from the took-'em-long-enough dept

Here at Techdirt we have over ten years worth of content, all available for anyone to read, and as we certainly get a fair amount of traffic to those back archives. While we don't pay that much attention to ad revenues (our business isn't advertising), access to those archives (mainly from Google searches or links from other sites into a specific older story) represent a fair chunk of our page views and ad revenue. With that in mind, it's been quite surprising to see so many publications try to lock up their archives -- either (worst of all!) taking down old stories completely or trying to lock them up behind a pay wall. Luckily, it looks like more and more publications are recognizing that this is a bad business strategy. The article is in the NY Times, which only recognized this very issue a few months ago. Prior to that, it charged for access to its archives, but since opening it up has seen traffic shoot up and ad revenues appear to be following. The article also mentions how Newsweek has had a lot of success opening up its archive, and Sports Illustrated is getting set to make its own archive available later this week. For all of those publishers who worry that there isn't enough ad revenue online, it makes little sense to sit on so much inventory. These days, you need to work on using Google to help drive more traffic, not suing it to stop sending traffic. What better way to make money off your archive than getting a lot more people to look at it?

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  • identicon
    Anne, 18 Mar 2008 @ 4:47pm

    Not everything has to be free

    I have no problem with companies that charge for access to their archives. The Los Angeles Times archives from 1880-1985 offer PDF versions of news stories, and most include photos. It must have been an expensive project, and it took years to complete, so although I am no fan of the current LA Times, their historical archives are impressive.

    That said, I don't pay for the articles. I download them free through my university's library system, but the school pays a flat annual subscription fee to Proquest, the portal that manages several newspaper archives.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 18 Mar 2008 @ 9:19pm

    Free Archives, Pay for New Stories

    Wouldn't be surprised if they start doing just that. Might as well share the archives, especially with newspapers as the stuff is in the past anyways and there WILL be other sources to find them. Making yours easier to access is just smart business.

    For "breaking news" stories though, or at least new stories, say less than a month old, I can easily understand charging for that.

    And then a month later, when it is "old news" archive it and let anyone access it.

    Now if only they'll put it at a reasonable price...

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  • identicon
    TheTruth, 22 Mar 2009 @ 9:44pm


    I thought I was the only one that thought that way but now I am glad I am not.

    It really does make sense to pay for new news and not old news if they think they 'need' the money so bad.

    If LATimes opened their archives they will get money from ads and revenue so fast their servers will crash all the time, Mainly due to collage students doing research of LA history in since newspapers show things in a unique way.

    Okay forget opening LA Times it will cause TOO MUCH popularity. :( (sighs)

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

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