Should Newspapers Remove or Redact Archive Content?

As more and more newspaper archives are digitized and made online accessible and searchable, newspapers are receiving requests to remove, block or redact some of their archive content. It happens for a number of reasons and newspapers struggle with the best way to respond.

What should their policy be regarding these requests? Do they redact or unpublish content that has already been published? Do they approach it case by case?

An article published recently by Sylvia Stead in the Globe and Mail does a nice job of outlining the issues and how she approaches the requests. It’s worth reading as this is an issue that is here to stay.

>>Click here to read, “Public Editor: We’re not in the unpublishing business.”

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Creative Methods Newspapers Are Using To Afford Archive Scanning

Guardian 6-18-21 to 6-10-22 Damage_binding 2Newspaper publishers are understandably nervous about their bound volume and loose printed archives. On one hand, they are desperate to have their increasingly fragile newspaper archives scanned and placed online where they can safely be searched by their own staff and the community but on the other hand, they are intimidated by the thought of what it might cost to make that happen.

Today, newspapers are finding creative ways to afford to have their archive scanned. Two newspapers we’ve worked with are talking about the successful methods they used to raise enough money to scan and place their entire archives online.  The secret was their going to the community and asking for support. No one is more eager to have that history online than the people and businesses in the communities the newspapers serve.

There are several ways to go about it. Some newspapers today are going to the community and securing sponsors for the archive digitization – it’s simply selling sponsorships like they do advertising. For businesses, they receive public recognition of their commitment to the community along with print and, in some cases, online promotion.

For Arkansas Catholic Newspaper and The Jewish News of Tidewater, the approach was similar but more of a true community campaign.  Read their case studies below to learn how they did it and you can contact us for more information.

>>Arkansas Catholic Newspaper
>>The Jewish News of Tidewater (Virginia)





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Using Archives To Build Audiences

There’s a great article in today’s Editor and Publisher Daily called “10 Newspapers That Do It Right 2016: Finding Success with Audience, Digital and New Revenue Ideas.”  Writers Adreana Young and Nu Yang profile ten newspapers and how they’re staying ahead of the pack. There are fantastic ideas including one from the StarNews in Wilmington, North Carolina.

The profile on the StarNews says, “The paper’s digital initiatives also helped them remain true to their mission of being community minded. They developed shareable programs centered on community interests and audience involvement. These include contests, voting on photos of the month, polls and quizzes.  The newspaper also utilizes its own archives as a way to build audiences. Strategies, such as #tbt photos and a section on the homepage called StarNews Flashback, where old news stories and advertisements are shared, are among the site’s most popular features.”

That second part is what caught our attention since that is exactly the driver of our program, Discover America’s Story. Your archive content is in high demand and it has endless potential when it comes to engaging your community – including those who have moved away but want to connect to their hometown or the town where their parents lived as children.  Consider the size of the audience interested – your town’s current and past residents.

Because, as the article says, the archive related features “are among the site’s most popular”, local businesses and organizations will want to be a part of your effort to put your archive online. Ask them to sponsor the scanning of bound volume archives and showcase their support. The revenue you generate from sponsorships can more than cover the cost of scanning.  It’s a win-win.

We help newspapers with the scanning of archive content and we can provide easy online hosting for those who would like it. Imagine being able to quickly search and pull a #TBT item to push on social media? Or a local business can search your coverage of the day they opened a facility in your town?

Want to get started? Just contact us today – email or call us at (360) 427-6300.   Ask us about how we can help you secure sponsors for your archive scanning.

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Engage your community by scanning your archive.

In the next couple of weeks, we’re wrapping up two major newspaper archive scanning projects. Both happen to be for religious newspapers which tell wonderfully rich stories of their respective communities.

The organizations we were scanning for have both been a delight to work with and we’re so proud to now see their archives fully accessible and searchable online for everyone to explore and enjoy.

These two organizations have also been spectacular examples of how to tap into a community of people to make an archive preservation project possible.  In one case, the driver of the community campaign to digitize the newspaper archive told us that people were so eager to see the archive online that they started sending checks — people the newspaper hadn’t heard from in years.  The other newspaper launched a similar “angel campaign” that people were eager to be a part of.  The result is the ability to search and explore years of newspaper archives that, until now, were inaccessible.

If you have a community newspaper or even your high school newspaper that you would like to see digitized and made online accessible, encourage the paper to contact us to see how to make it happen. We can also help show publishers how to secure local sponsorships to support digitization.

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A banner year for SmallTownPapers


SmallTownPapers, Inc. started out, more than a decade ago, as a company dedicated to helping small market and community newspapers preserve and make their bound volume archives online accessible.  We’ve worked with publishers to digitize millions of archive pages and host them online where they are now being searched and enjoyed every day.

Over the years, our company has experienced significant growth.  We added ArchiveInABox which provides quality and affordable scanning and digitization services to organizations including newspapers, media groups, historical societies, alumni groups and others with archives they want to preserve. The digitization process has never been easier.  ArchiveInABox provides shipping and all logistics as well as high quality scanning by a team with extensive experience in scanning delicate and fragile material.

Working with newspapers across the country, we discovered the need for a contest platform which is designed specifically for organizations hosting journalism and similar contests.  We created BetterBNC which is an easy to use and affordable online contest platform which now works with hundreds of organizations across North America that hold journalism/news, creative/ad, and public relations contests.

And in 2015, we added Discover America’s Story which is creating the only newspaper archive repository dedicated to weekly and community newspaper archives.  The program helps newspaper ad teams and publishers generate a new revenue stream that can be used to pay to digitize their bound volume archives.  The program experienced immediate success as businesses eagerly signed on to sponsor their community newspaper’s effort to digitally preserve and provide access to the town’s historic archive.  Perhaps best of all for publishers is that they retain all rights and ownership of their digital archive and all profits generated with Discover America’s Story are the newspaper’s to keep.

We are excited to see what the new year will bring and we are grateful to our customers and clients who have been such a pleasure for us to work with.  We wish everyone a happy and successful 2016!

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How to pay to digitize a newspaper archive.

volume2It’s a question we hear all the time from small market and community newspaper publishers across the country. If they’re going to spend money digitizing bound volume newspaper archives, publishers want to know how to monetize it – how to get their investment back.  They know the online archive has tremendous value so how can they make money?

Many have tried placing the archive behind a paywall but few, if any, have found the success they expected. What has worked for publishers, is selling ads against their archive content – making money on the historical archives up front.

This year, we launched a program called Discover America’s Story that is helping newspaper publishers do that.  Participating newspapers sell ad sponsorships against their historic archives and that generates revenue they can apply toward digitization.  We then work with them to scan their bound volumes safely and intact and they have complete ownership of the newly created digital archive.  It’s a program publishers should take a look at if they’re eager to digitize but have put it off because of the cost – or take a look at some of the program’s case studies.  Check out for details.

**The site also offers free searchable access to dozens of small town and community newspaper archives you can easily explore online.

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Evidence of ‘parallel universe’ discovered in 1980s small-town Louisiana newspaper archive

At SmallTownPapers, we regularly monitor activity on our archive pages – we analyze which archives receive the most traffic and we work to understand where the interest originates.  One of the most visited pages got our attention big time – it’s the TV listings for one particular week in 1985.  We wondered why this has garnered such intense interest in recent days.

The frequently visited archive listing shows page 6 of the September 12, 1985 edition of a small weekly newspaper from rural Louisiana, The Ponchatoula Times.  What’s so interesting is that the item drawing people to this page is the 7:00 AM Saturday listing of “The Berenstein Bears” – sandwiched in between a show called “Snorks” and the James Bond thriller, “Never Say Never Again.”  Why in the world are people looking back 30 years at a listing of “The Berenstein Bears”?

The visits are coming from sites which are trying to determine whether the children’s book and television series is, in fact, the Berenstein or Berenstain Bears. What was it originally and when did it change (if it did in fact change)?  A Facebook page is dedicated to the discussion ( and several websites explore how the spelling of the beloved series might have changed over time. According to published articles, the authors insist the title was and is “Berenstain.”  Theories of parallel universes and mass memory distortion are explored as possible explanations for the dual spellings.  The discussion hit a fever pitch last month and links to the archive page have been strong ever since.

Perhaps most compelling to us is that, in an attempt to answer the question, people turn to the most trusted source available – the community’s newspaper.  They will search the archives, knowing that newspapers would have made every effort to ensure the reference was accurate.

We often think of newspaper archive access as most critical for people conducting historical research or genealogists tracing their ancestry – but the truth is that there’s so much more that people want to find in their town’s newspaper archives.  People want to be able to easily search through archives in a quest to answer a variety of questions about their lives, their community, and the world in which they live. Having easy, online access to past issues of a community’s history has uses far beyond the obvious.

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Helping Newspaper Publishers Digitize their Archives

Discover-America-Vertical-gold-blackSmallTownPapers has been excited about the reaction to our new program, Discover America’s Story. Small town and community newspaper publishers are delighted to finally have discovered an easy way to generate fresh revenue – money which can then be applied toward digitizing and placing their historic printed archives online for the world to explore and enjoy.

Participants work with our scanning division, ArchiveInABox, to have their loose printed and bound volume archives safely scanned so they are completely searchable online.  After scanning, he original hard copy archives are safely returned to publishers.

Check out the latest ArchiveInABox newsletter which has just been made available and visit to learn more about this new program which is creating the first online newspaper archive repository dedicated to America’s small town and community newspapers.

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Ready to digitize your newspaper archive?

CrowleyOne of our most read blogs clears up misconceptions about digitizing loose printed and bound volume newspaper archives.  There is a lot of information you need to know before you move forward with scanning old newspapers. Want more information?

  • If you are a librarian or historical society and own a newspaper archive collection, contact ArchiveInABox to learn how you can get started.
  • If you are a small town or community newspaper publisher, visit to learn about a new program which helps you generate revenue you need to move forward with digitizing your printed or bound volume archive then making it online accessible.

(Original post – December 2014)

It’s amazing what you might hear from a scanning provider who wants to earn your business — here are the top “fascinating falsehoods” regularly pitched to publishers:

  1. Bound book archives must be cut apart to scan and digitize.  FALSE
    No, your books do not have to be cut.  We scan all material intact including delicate materials like aging newspapers, whether loose or in bound volumes.
  2. Printed archives have to be microfilmed before digitizing.  FALSE
    Scanning can be done directly from printed material such as bound volumes, and will yield a superior image quality over that of microfilm. This means photos and illustrations will be clear and sharp. Scanning from microfilm should be done only if you don’t have the original newspapers.
  3. If you scan from the original printed page, there will be bleedthrough from the other side.  FALSE
    Our scans do not pick up bleedthrough – the pages are clean and easy to read.
  4. You should always scan to PDF file format.  FALSE
    PDF file format is great for searching and accessing individual editions, but limits what can be done in the online environment. Always insist that your digital copies are produced in the high resolution TIFF file format — from here you can save to any format, including PDF. ArchiveInABox uses non-proprietary, open source file formats in its hosting program which are far superior to PDF for online searching.
  5. You have to pay a hosting fee to put the digital archive online.  FALSE
    ArchiveInABox provides online hosting for those wanting it — without an additional charge.
  6. You have to license software and pay every year.  FALSE
    With ArchiveInABox, there are no software licensing fees. Our program is all inclusive for a one-time price.
  7. You have to ship your entire archive to our scan center.  FALSE
    When you select ArchiveInABox to produce your digital copies, you receive the benefit of our proven and repeatable production and logistics process, including the use of our heavy duty shipping containers.  You ship small amounts of your archive at any given time.

Know what you’re getting before you sign an agreement to scan your archives.  You want a partner who will be there with you throughout the process and will make it easy for your customers to access and search the archives online today and for years to come.

SmallTownPapers’ ArchiveInABox solution specializes in scanning full size loose and bound printed newspaper archives. We work with hundreds of newspaper publishers and historical stakeholders, such as libraries and historical societies, nationwide.

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Small town newspapers are a treasure trove!

An article posted on recently is such a wonderful example of the importance of small town newspaper archives to individuals wanting to learn more about their family history.

The author Janice Dickerson writes, “When I discovered the newspaper has been digitized – all the way back to 1868 – I was ecstatic! My mother’s family didn’t arrive there until 1918, so the earliest editions aren’t relevant to me, but the rest, Oh my. What a treasure trove for a family historian.”

We’re proud to have worked with hundreds of small market and community newspapers across the country to help them digitize their historic bound volume archives.  Our ArchiveInABox product is helping newspapers, historical societies, libraries and more digitize their collections and our newest program, Discover America’s Story, is helping small town and community newspaper publishers generate the revenue they need to support the digitization of their printed and bound volume archives.

If you can’t find your hometown newspaper’s archive online, encourage the publisher to contact us to learn how they can easily move their archive online for the world to explore and enjoy.

>>Click here to read the Dickerson article.

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