This could have been amazing: Google has had a five-year-old News Archive project that was basically its newspaper version of Google Books. As part of the project, Google promised to scan, index, and host digital files from numerous newspapers, and it eventually had 60 million pages, covering 250 years.
But alas, no more. Google sent an email to publishers, including The Boston Phoenix, saying it would cease accepting, scanning, and indexing microfilm and other archival material from newspapers. This is what the Phoenix‘s blog had to say on the subject:
News Archive was generally a good deal for newspapers — especially smaller ones like ours, who couldn’t afford the tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars it would have cost to digitally scan and index our archives… but newspapers are infamously more difficult to index than books, thanks to layout complexities such as columns and jumps, which require humans or intense algorithmic juju to decode. Here’s two wild guesses: the process may have turned out to be harder than Google anticipated. Or it may have turned out that the resulting pages drew far fewer eyeballs than anyone expected.
RIP, Google News Archive. We hardly knew you.