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The Death of Google News Archive

We often get asked what happened to the Google News Archive. Unfortunately, Google announced in May 2011 that it would stop its historic newspaper archive project. This is sad news as the Google News Archive was an important source of information for genealogists wanting to trace their ancestors and for anyone wanting to look up historical information. The project had already scanned roughly 2,000 historic newspapers from around the world. Some of the scanned newspapers were particularly valuable because they were from less developed countries that lacked traditional genealogical records.

Fortunately, the Google News Archive is not going away, at least not for the moment. According to a Google spokesperson "users can continue to search digitized newspapers at news.google.com/archivesearch, but we don't plan to introduce any further features or functionality to the Google News Archives and we are no longer accepting new microfilm or digital files for processing".

The Genealogy Search Engine is now capable of searching the entire Google News Archive. It is the only ancestral search engine on the internet that has this capablility.

What Killed Google News Archive?

It appears that two things lead to Google’s decision to cease work on their News Archive: complaints from large newspaper publishers and Apple’s iPad drawing too many publishers to the Apple platform.

The irony of newspaper publishers exerting pressure to shut down a newspaper archive is just too rich given that newspaper readership has been steadily falling over the last several years (see Why Are Newspapers Dying?) and the copyright had expired for many of the old newspapers.

When the British Museum announced plans in 2010 to digitize its historic newspaper collection, the Murdoch news organization complained bitterly about the project and tried to get it shut down. Clearly others had also complained to Google through lawsuits and other means about the company’s attempt to organize the world’s information through historic newspaper archives and other approaches. The weight of these complaints must have been felt by Google.

Apple’s attempt to ring fence newspaper publishers on their platform has also clearly alarmed Google. The sad reality for genealogists is that there is simply more money to be made from selling current news that trying to sell access to historic archived newspapers.

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