Surfacing newspaper archives

Should newspapers really put their archives behind paid-only archive walls?

Chris Anderson takes a swipe at the answer.

I’ve been having doubts about the paid archive strategy for a while, and for very long-tailish reasons.

On one hand, some people — especially attorneys — will pay good money to access archives. Also, if your archives are surfaced in Google, the majority of traffic they might attract is out of market (icky traffic, not sticky traffic). However, a newspaper archives contains a lot of great content that can be optimized as well as provide valuable background for readers — the kind of background that might be relevant and useful, but not necessarily worth a buck or two. Archive content can also be aggregated in interesting ways — everything about a particular neighborhood, or issue, or school, or person grouped in one convenient location.

The revenue from archives doesn’t seem all that great. The big question, though, is can it generate equal or more revenue once it is effectively accessible?

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