Newspapers In The Digital Age, 2005 Discussion Forum

RUSA MARS Product and Services Committee Discussion Forum
January 16, 2005 9:30 -12:30 AM, Boston Marriott Copley Place , Boston
"Newspapers in the Digital Age”

Forum Speakers:

  • Rod Gauvin, Senior Vice President Marketing and Publishing for Proquest Information and Learning
  • Deborah Harmer from Newsbank
  • John Cronin, Librarian at the Boston Herald
  • Dawn Conway from Lexis Nexis
  • Dan Donaldson, Director of Imaging Products at ST Imaging.

The committee held a discussion forum called "Newspapers In The Digital Age" on Sunday at Midwinter in Boston to address issues of online and digital newspaper content. Over 60 people attended this session where industry representatives responded to questions about selection, exclusions, freelance content, multiple editions, indexing policies, and the future direction of digital content. Invited speakers included three major online vendors, a librarian at the Boston Herald, and a consultant specializing in digital scanning equipment.

Rod Gauvin from Proquest gave a slide show that focused on their Historical Newspapers titles, which offer digital reproductions of major national newspapers. Research that was done by the company in 1998 revealed that librarians wanted cover-to-cover content, web delivery, full article display even when continued on other pages, searching by date or issue, the ability to browse full pages, searching by keyword, searching by article types, relevancy rankings and sorting by date. His overview demonstrated how content in the background database operates for searching and displaying PDF images. In response to questions about omissions in the New York Times, Mr. Guavin explained they still lack permissions for some articles and photographs. For those omissions, the original content remains in the background for search purposes and digital reproductions are turned on for display as the rights are obtained. Proquest is actively pursuing rights for all missing content in the Historical Newspaper titles.

Deborah Harmer from Newsbank gave a slide presentation outlining how Newsbank works with over 1500 publishers to move ASCII content into their XML schema for a uniform appearances and navigation. In response to questions about content, those negotiations are between publishers and authors. Newsbank does not attempt to acquire or index missing articles. Newsbank does provide a search interface that maintains the distinctive sections and indexing from publishers, such as content for editorials and obituaries. They omit all graphical materials, advertising, and other forms such as legal notice. Newsbank does have a digital product called Early American Newspapers that will be expanding to include the Dallas Morning News.

The slide presentation from Dawn Conway gave insights into the selection process at LexisNexis that involves a content advisory committee comprised of librarians. This resulted in adding 140 titles last year. Any title added has minimum of two years back coverage. LexisNexis has no plans to include digital content. They presently accept whatever ASCII content is delivered from publishers and are not involved in obtaining rights to freelance content. Their content lacks graphics, advertising, and other specialized notices. Keyword searches of LexisNexis newspapers benefit from a proprietary process call "smart indexing" that generates results based on relevancy.

John Cronin from the Boston Herald gave a unique perspective on what is involved in managing a database of newspaper articles for both viewing via their web site and distribution to third party vendors. His operations include both a public database and a more comprehensive private database that includes all syndicated articles or other content they lack rights for redistribution. Content sent to Newsbank or other vendors is processed by their AText database where selected content is stripped out and other articles are merged together into a single file. Major daily newspapers like the Boston Herald must manage content to track stories found in multiple editions or variant articles due to fast changing news stories. Assembling a final version to serve as the newspaper of record in permanent digital format will be the major challenge facing both publishers and the Library of Congress in the future. Mr. Cronin warned that a lack of standards and policies for digital editions of newspapers is a major barrier for the future development of digital newspapers.

Dan Donaldson is an inventor and manager of S-T imaging which make scanning equipment for self-service film to digital scanning workstations that he has implements in libraries. His slide presentation outlined what libraries need to consider for digitization projects and how to make decisions based on priorities, including historical significant materials and those experiencing heavy interlibrary loan usage. Studies show that only 1% of all content ever filmed is actually accessed. When libraries are ready to upgrade their film to digital scanning equipment, he believes replacing entire systems with new technology is more cost effective and user friendly than try to adopt different technologies and equipment. Self-service technology is available on the marketplace that greatly simplifies the how patrons scan digital images from microfilm.

Powerpoint Presentations