Google rolls out free newspaper archives

In its continuing quest to digitize all of the world’s information, Google Inc. is looking to incorporate back issues of newspapers — in some cases going back hundreds of years — into its web search results.

The company announced Monday its News Archive Partner Program, which will create searchable scans of pages from participating newspapers.

The pages are complete originals, with the same photos, headlines and advertisements.

Newspapers that have joined the initiative include the Quebec Chronicle-Telegraph in Quebec City, which has been publishing for 244 years, making it the oldest paper in North America. Florida’s St. Petersburg Times and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette have also joined.

“Around the globe, we estimate that there are billions of news pages containing every story ever written. And it’s our goal to help readers find all of them, from the smallest local weekly paper up to the largest national daily,” wrote Google product manager Punit Soni on the company’s official blog.

“The problem is that most of these newspapers are not available online. We want to change that.”

Under the archive partner program, Google scans the microfilm supplied by newspapers or by microfilm aggregators such as ProQuest and Heritage. The newspaper pages are then published online, where they turn up in Google searches and are viewable without charge.

Google and the respective newspaper generate revenue from ads that are attached to the pages, most of which goes back to the newspaper partner, a spokesperson for the search company said.

A search for “Americans walk on moon,” for example, links to a front-page scan of the July 21, 1969, issue of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. As with typical Google searches, several context-sensitive ad links display on the side of the article.

The move to offer free, ad-supported newspaper archives will compete with papers that have set up pay-per-view systems, such as the New York Times and the Globe and Mail. Both newspapers charge visitors to view archived articles.

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