Monday, August 29, 2016

Journal-Sentinel Pulls Archives From Google

I've written extensively about my love for Google's newspaper archives. You can peruse my old posts and see how many stories were inspired by browsing through old articles. It's an invaluable research tool, putting well over a century's worth of history at our fingers.

And now, it's gone. At least where Milwaukee is concerned.

As chronicled by Michail Takach at Urban Milwaukee, the paper's parent company has had its entire archive pulled down.
“Have you ever borrowed a book, thousands of miles away?” asked those visionary AT&T ads of the 1990s. “Have you ever learned special things, from far away places? You will.”

In 1993, this was mind-blowing science fiction. By 2008, we were already there. Google News Archive launched that year with ambitious plans to scan, archive and release the world’s newspapers in a single public access database. Anyone, anywhere, would now be able to read any edition of any newspaper ever printed. It was the closest thing to time travel in human history. Historians, librarians and educators rejoiced: the future was now!

When the project abruptly ended three years later, the project had scanned over a million pages of news from over 2,000 newspapers. Although nobody is entirely sure why the project ended, Google News Archive delivered an incredible gift to Milwaukee: free digital access to more than a century’s worth of local newspapers.

This wasn’t just a revelation; it was a revolution. Aligning perfectly with the rise of social media, Google News Archive content inspired Facebook groups, Twitter feeds, Pinterest boards, and more. By removing barriers to historical content, Google didn’t just trigger a passing interest in local history. Google triggered a groundswell of historical discovery, engagement and pride.

That was then. This is now: on Tuesday, August 16, the Milwaukee Journal, Milwaukee Sentinel, and Milwaukee Journal Sentinel listings vanished from the Google News Archive home page. This change came without any advance warning and still has no official explanation.

As a researcher and author, I relied heavily on Google News Archive to uncover the hidden history of LGBTQ Milwaukee for my recent book on that subject. For years, I’ve bookmarked thousands of articles and images for further exploration at a later date. In one lightning bolt moment, all of my Google News Archive bookmarks went from treasure to trash. There will be no later date. There will be no further exploration.

Google’s response to inquiries was chilling: “Google News Archive no longer has permission to display this content.” The response from a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel employee was even more chilling: “We have contracted with a new vendor (Newsbank.) It is unclear when or if the public will have access to the full inventory that was formerly available on Google News Archive.”

That’s right. If.

Google spent considerable time and money to digitize our history as a cultural contribution. As a for-profit company, Newsbank will essentially privatize these public resources through a paid subscription service. Unfortunately, our community champions for historical preservation – libraries, universities, museums, historical societies – are unlikely to pay the steep ransom price that would restore free public access. Will anyone?

Until someone pays up, local history might just be held hostage.
This is sobering development for all of us. It will severely hurt my own research, as it will anyone who loves Wisconsin and her history.

I'm interested to see what Newsbank has in mind for the archives, and sick at heart thinking how many stories may be lost because of a desire to lock those pages away.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

True Blue v. Dallas

Uni Watch blogger Paul Lukas has confirmed that the Packers will wear their throwback uniforms against Dallas:

Friday, August 5, 2016

The Girdiron Man, Finally in Canton

Scott Heckel, The Canton Repository via AP
Brett Favre waves after receiving his gold jacket at the Pro Football Hall of Fame enshrinees' dinner on Thursday in Canton, Ohio.
This feels like the final end to a storied career. I know that there's a ceremony to be held on October 16th, but this is the big one. We all knew that we'd get to this moment, although we couldn't have seen the bumps and twists in the road to get here.

The Kid looks pretty good in that gold jacket.

Jim Matthews/USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin

Following the recent controversy over who really owns his legacy, I couldn't agree more with this sentiment:

You can check out his full Hall of Fame speech here. A speech, incidentally, that set one more record while honoring a career full of them.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

In Which the Hall of Fame Trolls Us All

This Saturday, Brett Favre will be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, but we've already been given a peek at his locker display in the museum. And it's pretty outrageous.

Yep, somebody thought that his last two years in Minnesota deserved "equal time".

I know that Brett had some hard feelings about his departure from the team, but this seems incredibly petty.