Gordon Atkinson gave a presentation titled “Coloring Your Tree With Newspapers.com” at the recent at 2016 BYU Conference on Family History and Genealogy.
Gordon is a senior director at fold3.com and newspapers.com. In 2003 he left ancestry to found Footnote. In October 2010 Ancestry.com acquired footnote and renamed it fold3.
Ancestry has 40 million newspaper pages. But newspapers are indexed through OCR (optical character recognition) and OCR results don’t surface very well on Ancestry.com. So Ancestry took some fold3 technology and created newspapers.com. They launched in 2012 and just four years later have 160 million pages from 4,200 newspapers. They are adding 9 to 10 million pages ever month.
While they are owned and operated by Ancestry.com, their offices were in Lindon, Utah [I assume with Fold3] and Ancestry was in Provo, Utah. They’ve just moved into the new Ancestry office building in Lehi, Utah.
Newspapers.com requires a separate subscription from Ancestry.com, although Ancestry.com offers an all-access bundle. Newspapers.com is successful even outside the field of genealogy.
Because publications from 1922 and before are in the public domain, Newspapers.com can publish them without having to pay royalties. After 1922 they have to enter relationships and pay publishers to republish their newspapers. They just did a deal with Tronc to publish the L.A. Times. Last year they signed an agreement with Ganett to do all 82 of their newspapers. To cover the additional costs of the royalties for these modern newspapers, Newspapers.com has added a “Publishers Extra” premium subscription. The basic subscription gives access to 100 million pages of older newspapers. The Publishers Extra subscription adds access to 71 million more. The + sign next to a title indicates a Publisher Extra subscription is required. However, some titles have issues both before and after 1922. There is a line and different colors indicating the issues requiring the Extra subscription.
When asked about NewspaperARCHIVE, Gordon said that Newspapers.com has similar content, but if Newspapers.com doesn’t yet have more content, they soon will. And he said the Newspapers.com site experience is better.
To get new newspapers, they work with institutions and libraries across the country, but mainly with publishers. He said they take recommendations, but they don’t digitize paper newspapers. All their content is from microfilm and there are plenty of newspapers available on microfilm.
The vast majority of their papers are from the US. Sometimes you’ll see gaps in their coverage. There are lots of reasons for this. The microfilms may have been destroyed or lost. The issues may never have been microfilmed. Sometimes Newspapers.com makes mistakes and they are filed in the wrong place, but usually gaps are because the issues are not available.
Gordon showed the Newspapers.com website. I’ve shown it recently, so I won’t repeat most of it here. See “Ancestry’s Newspapers.com at #NGS2016GEN.” The website uses a technology called HTML 5 instead of the older Flash technology, so it now works on mobile devices.
There is a button to Save to Ancestry. It will let you select a particular tree, and then pick a person. The clip shows up in the Other Sources section of the person page. They are working to make the experience better, passing information over to Ancestry.com, showing a thumbnail, and associating it with events.
If you clip anything, then anyone can view, not just the clip, but a free view of the whole page. We think that some people will be interested and subscribe, although we just want people to have a positive experience, Gordon said.
You can view a collection of clippings that others have done. We have one user who likes to find horrible crimes and clips them, Gordon said. We’ve had a user clip chess matches. Someone called and said, “you have the best website for learning about building supplies in Texas in the 1930s.” She said she needed the information for a master’s thesis. You can search the clipping page. If you click on the clippers name, you see their profile. If the user has allowed it, there is a Contact Me button. From their profile, you can see all the clippings they’ve made. It helps you organize.
Gordon said several things about searching. They are working on improving their search technology. Clippings have a high score and float to the top of search results. You can use quote marks in search, but text must match exactly. You can save a search so that you receive an email when new matches are added. You can filter results to those added in the recent past.
When clipping you can’t join together portions of an article that are not adjacent.
On the title page of a paper, you can click Follow and be informed if they add issues.
There is a free course on Ancestry Academy about Newspaper.com.
Class members gave different opinions as to whether Newspapers.com is available at FamilySearch Family History Centers. I know a limited version is available via the BYU campus Wi-Fi (because I’m using it right now), but the premium papers are hidden here. A FamilySearch help center article indicates that NewspaperARCHIVE is available, but not newspapers.com.