Google Shuts Down Ambitious Newspaper Scanning Project

newspaper-scanGoogle’s ambitious effort to digitize the world’s newspaper archives and make them available online has come to an end.

The project launched in 2008, and it currently has digitized material from what looks like about 2,000 newspapers — including the Milwaukee Sentinel, whose July 21, 1969 front page is shown at right.

But rumors have been circulating that this move was coming, and a Google spokesperson gave us this statement confirming the shut down tonight:

We work closely with newspaper partners on a number of initiatives, and as part of the Google News Archives digitization program we collaborated to make older newspapers accessible and searchable online. These have included publications like the London Advertiser in 1895, L’Ami du Lecteur at the turn of the century, and the Milwaukee Sentinel from 1910 to 1995.

Users can continue to search digitized newspapers at, 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.

According to the Boston Phoenix, one of the newspapers that was giving Google its archives for scanning and indexing online, Google emailed its partners on Thursday to announce that the program was coming to an end so Google could concentrate instead on “newer projects that help the industry, such as Google One Pass, a platform that enables publishers to sell content and subscriptions directly from their own sites.”

The Phoenix also says that Google is giving back to its newspaper partners the content that Google has already scanned. But it won’t add that content to its news archive going forward. Newspapers that have their own digital archives can still add material to Google’s news archive via sitemaps. They’re also free to take the material that Google has scanned for them and work with other partners to get it online.

Related Topics: Channel: Content | Google: News | Top News


About The Author: is Editor-In-Chief of Search Engine Land. His news career includes time spent in TV, radio, and print journalism. His web career continues to include a small number of SEO and social media consulting clients, as well as regular speaking engagements at marketing events around the U.S. He recently launched a site dedicated to Google Glass called Glass Almanac and also blogs at Small Business Search Marketing. Matt can be found on Twitter at @MattMcGee and/or on Google Plus. You can read Matt's disclosures on his personal blog.

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  • Jeremiah

    You gotta be kidding me!!! I have been looking forward to this “project” for quite some time and I thought what they were essentially doing was gearing up for an attempt at taking on “wikipedia” – head on. I guess they have to many battles to fight right now with Microsoft/Bing, Yahoo, Facebook, and more…

    I think they it might be the right move… I don’t know – just my two cents thrown at it though :-)
    Nice article Matt!

    Jeremiah R.

  • Alexander Chalkidis

    I think it is a simple cost/benefit calculation. Digitizing material is done by Google itself only for high effectivity material like books. These bring them a lot of traffic. I suspect newspaper material was not as useful, especially the older stuff.

    By their nature books tend to have material which is much more compatible with the type of stuff people search for. Google tried newspapers, found it too difficult (publishers here are harder to deal with than old books!) and left it.


  • Anthony Ortenzi

    While it’s disappointing that the momentum for digitizing archives may slow, Google’s at least being classy about how they spin this down. They’ve provided an example, shown the way, and now move on, having left gifts.

  • Seb Gibbs

    This was such a good service in that it helps very old documents not get lost for ever in our history. This sort of information Is very useful for documenting historical events for the entire future.

  • N.M.

    Just as we added a historical newspaper layer. Well, there are still some more left for us to plot.

  • OBF

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