Gannett now delivers digital newspaper content from the past directly to readers, allowing them to step back in time and experience the news dating as far back as the 1800’s, without leaving the comfort of their homes.
The new service is available through a partnership between Gannett and Ancestry.com, a website focused on family history and consumer genetics, and will digitize more than 80 of Gannett’s daily newspapers. Readers can access content through newspapers.com, an Ancestry-owned site, which delivers over 100 million full-page images of historical newspaper content in an easy-to-use online archive.
“We’re excited about what this does for the online accessibility of archives because in the past you would have to go to the library and use microfilm, but this puts everything right at people’s fingertips with a very intuitive and simple search experience,” says Brian Hansen, vice president of emerging businesses at Ancestry.
The Cincinnati Enquirer was the first Gannett newspaper to launch their archived content on the site in August, with more than four million searchable pages of The Cincinnati Enquirer made available online. Subscribers can access historical content from 1841 to present time by entering a key word or filtering by date. In addition, new archives will be accessible through an “Archives” link in the newspaper’s primary online navigation, mobile site and native mobile app.
So far, the response from readers has been positive as many have “virtually clipped” newspaper pages, says Hansen. The Poughkeepsie Journal and The Courier-Journal have also launched their archives.
“We want to make the archives of all our newspapers available to individuals going back to day one and issue one of every newspaper,” says Maribel Perez Wadsworth, chief strategy officer for Gannett. “This will take some time, but we’re off to a great start.”
Gannett and Ancestry consider the partnership a revenue and audience engagement opportunity. The audience engagement aspect for Gannett means they are providing digital subscribers the added value of free access to the most recent two years of archives available. However, to access news pages older than two years, readers will need an archive subscription for $7.95 a month or $59.95 a year.
Wadsworth also notes that they hope to boost audience engagement by simply providing a way for individuals to discover and share historical information about the people and events that have shaped their personal and community lives. Ancestry shares the same approach to audience engagement.
“When we built newspapers.com, the goal was always two-fold; to deliver as much newspaper content for subscribers but also build an engine that would make a great partner and model for publishers,” says Hansen.
Ancestry’s goal with the partnership is ultimately to help newspapers use their archives as an opportunity for revenue and to get subscribers interested in their website.
“The business model made sense to Gannett because from their perspective, they just needed to agree to let Ancestry digitize their content and power an archive that would link back to their site in a way that would unlock revenue for them,” says Hansen.
Other newspaper archives will become available soon, including the Indianapolis Star, Detroit Free Press, Arizona Republic and The Nashville Tennessean.