One of the points of The New York Times’ 2014 Innovation Report was that the paper had missed an opportunity to use its archived content. The Times is trying to correct that, digitizing its physical archive of around 6 million photos dating back as far as its beginnings in the mid-1800s.
Archived material is a big advantage that legacy publishers have over newer competitors and can be redistributed to increase traffic, packaged and sold in the form of back issues and photos and used to build advertising, as publishers including The Atlantic and The Economist have done.
The Times didn’t rule out using the archive for commercial purposes down the road, but said for now, the digital photo archive’s use is limited to the newsroom, which will use it to inform news coverage and resurface images that have relevance today.
“We have covered the world for such a long time we just have this vast store of information,” said Monica Drake, assistant managing editor at the Times. “The immediate goal is to take advantage of all this material and information we’ve gathered for so long and bring it back to life. We want The New York Times to be a place people go if they want to know what was happening a century ago or when was the first time an attorney general stepped down.”
The Times created a storytelling team led by Veronica Chambers that will publish photos from the archives and support other desks with archival photos. The first results of this will be a photo essay showing California’s development that will be published this weekend.
The Innovation Report and reports like this one by the Times about black history helped show the value of the photo archives, said Drake.
“We realized what a treasure we have and that they resonate with a digital audience,” she said.
The problem was that all these photos have been stored in a morgue in folders that had to be manually sifted through. They often are categorized in ways that made sense at the time but no longer do, Drake said.
“There was a zoot folder,” she said. “Apparently at some point someone said, ‘We shoot this so much, we need to create a folder.’”
Manually tagging the photos in an archive would take a lot of work, so the Times put it off. The Times hired a 10-person team to scan and upload the photos. It’s using Google to store photos in the cloud and make it easier to search the scanned photos by converting hand-written captions to text. The work started this summer and is expected to take a year or more to complete.
The arrangement is part of the Times’ relationship with Google as a Google Cloud customer. Both the Times and Google are announcing the archiving work Nov. 9. The announcement is unrelated to the Google News Initiative Cloud program to help small- to medium-sized media companies with tasks including digitizing photo archives.
Image via The New York Times.
Can Niche build the next decentralized social platform? Here’s why it matters
Niche is a decentralized online marketplace and social networking platform rolled into one. Unlike other social apps, it doesn't carry ads and it doesn't harvest user data.
Member ExclusiveDigiday+ Research deep dive: YouTube investments pay off for publishers’ brands, revenues
In this final installment of Digiday+ Research's deep dive into how publishers are using social media platforms, we're covering how publishers are investing time and money on YouTube -- and how that's translating to their revenues and brands.
ANA’s programmatic buying guide aims to shine a light on murky inefficiencies for CMOs
The Association of National Advertisers released a guide on programmatic media buying that aims to save marketers billions of dollars a year.
SponsoredWhat gaming habits reveal about media consumption
Jordan Shlachter, head of research, Activision Blizzard Media Entertainment choices have never been more abundant, and gaming has emerged as one of the biggest winners in the battle for audiences’ attention. While gaming’s exponential growth has been well documented — there are currently nearly 3 billion gamers worldwide spanning a diverse set of demographics, interests […]
How The Washington Post’s Joy Robins is using lessons from 2020 to handle the current economic slowdown
Joy Robins' role as CRO looks different than it did a year ago, but in a volatile economy, a media company's revenue sources are subject to change as well.
How media companies like The New York Times, BuzzFeed and Gannett are managing costs in an economic downturn
The New York Times, BuzzFeed, Gannett and IAC are identifying areas to cut costs, from marketing budgets to hiring slowdowns and layoffs.