Monday, June 8, 2015

Big Trouble with Newspaper Digitization

We all know how convenient it is to have research resources available at our fingertips through online databases.  I routinely post when new newspaper databases are placed on the Web, and I use these databases on almost a daily basis.  I love it when I read announcements about more partnerships that will bring more newspaper archives online.

Unfortunately, it seems that one company that partnered with many newspapers to digitize and make available their historic news photograph archives will not be able to deliver on that.  The bigger problem is that it currently has control of the physical archives of many, many newspapers.  I sincerely hope that nothing is lost or destroyed during what looks like will be an acrimonious litigation process.

The Salt Lake Tribune has an article about the debacle because it is one of the newspapers whose archives is in limbo.  Other newspapers listed by name in the article:

Boston Herald
Chicago Sun-Times
Contra Costa Times
Denver Post
El Paso Times
Los Angeles Daily News
Minneapolis Star-Tribune
New Haven Register
Oakland Tribune
San Jose Mercury News
Seattle Times
St. Paul Pioneer Press

An article from the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette names these additional newspapers affected by the situation:

Alameda Times Star
The Argus
Berkshire Eagle
Daily Breeze
East County Times
Hayward Daily Review
Inland Valley Daily Bulletin
Redland Daily Facts
San Gabriel Valley Tribune
Tri-Valley Herald
Whittier Daily News

And the Minneapolis Post (which has a little more background details in its coverage) includes the Sydney Morning Herald and Melbourne Age among newspapers from Australia and says that the archives of 72 New Zealand newspapers are part of the mess.

If I understand the articles correctly, with the American newspapers it seems to be photo archives, but the Australian and New Zealand newspapers surrendered the archival papers themselves.  Many people are not willing to talk or give a lot of details, which is understandable, given that there are several active lawsuits.

As my friend Joe would say, "Bad, bad.  Very bad."

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