Tuesday, March 17, 2009

another one bites the dust

Just weeks after the 150 year old Colorado mainstay Rocky Mountain News died, the 149 year old Seattle Post-Intelligencer has also folded its paper pages for the last time. It has refocused to provide web only content.

So, again I ask two questions:

1. How do we, as preservation officers of printed history, harvest and preserve web-only content and

2. How do we continue to preserve small, rural newspapers that don't have web content when microfilm services are becoming dinosaurs?

I invite you to comment no matter your position. I'm interested in what you think.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

The Dissolution of Newspapers

The Rocky Mountain News has closed (see link for outstanding photo coverage). Many more major newspapers around the country are dying - bleeding to death financially. It's not that people aren't reading the news, it's just they aren't reading it from paper anymore. The internet has changed everything, including how we get our news. This change in media has far reaching implications for those of us charged with preserving "newspapers".

First, there's saving the paper copies. We already know that we can't save the paper itself - too full of acid and not enough storage space. We generally preserve the content of the paper copies with microfilm. But microfilming operations are dying as fast as the newspaper publishers. Many no longer see the need for it, what with digital being the popular media. Forget that "digital preservation" is in it's infancy. We're just as likely to lose digital data because of some silly power outage as we are likely to have rain in spring.

Then there's what to do with newspapers that are all digital. Few people have the time or expertise to figure out how to harvest and save in perpetuity this digital content because, well, digital preservation is in its infancy.

What about those papers, rural papers for instance, that fall through the cracks - they're not going under and they don't have digital content. Without microfilming directives, who's saving that content?

I'd be interested in hearing your thoughts on this last pontification. I don't care what your position is; for or against, low-level or high-level staff, researcher, archivist, historian, or newspaper enthusiast. I just want to know what you think.