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Gale Group and Dialog to Gather Gannett Newspapers
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Posted On February 5, 2001
Gale Group (http://www.galegroup.com), a Thomson Corporation subsidiary, has contracted with Gannett (http://www.gannett.com), publisher of USA TODAY and the largest newspaper chain in the country, to integrate the archives of all 98 Gannett regional papers into its InfoTrac online services. The deal does not include USA TODAY, for which Gale continues to negotiate. Newsfeeds from Gannett will rely on a news-archiving service, which provides uniform archiving for all the Gannett papers. In a change of marketing policy, Gannett has decided to market the archives for all the papers nationwide. According to Allan Paschal, CEO of Gale Group, the company acted in the negotiations as lead agency for Thomson and, therefore, the new data will extend to other Thomson subsidiaries as well, specifically Dialog, which currently has the Gannett archives (File 604).

By the beginning of March, Gale will start adding the full text of the Gannett newspapers into the InfoTrac Customized Newspapers service. Archives will extend back to January 1999. The InfoTrac Customized Newspapers currently includes some 200 major newspapers, including The New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, and London Times.

A Gale representative told us that the company did not expect to add all the archives at once. They will receive newsfeeds from Gale's archiving system as it completes its automation of the full newspaper collection. Larger newspapers should come into the system first and then smaller ones. The deal does not cover full-image—as opposed to full-text—content, though it might "down the road," according to a Gale representative.

Though the entire content of the newspaper archives will go into the Customized Newspapers service, other subject-focused InfoTrac services called InfoTrac Resource Centers will also receive subset newsfeeds based on Gale's indexing. The Web-based InfoTrac Customized Newspapers service supports searching by title, headline, date, author, or newspaper section. Gale targets the academic, school, and public library markets for InfoTrac products. According to the announcement of the Gannett content acquisition, only one other periodical database publisher licenses newspapers online to that market.

Paschal acclaimed the acquisition: "The Gannett newspapers are a great addition to InfoTrac. This will significantly increase the amount of quality local news available in Custom Newspapers." Gannett owns 13 of the nation's 100 largest newspapers, including The Detroit News, The Des Moines Register, The Louisville Courier-Journal, and The Indianapolis Star.

Gale Group creates and maintains over 600 databases published online, in print, and in microform. It delivers its data directly to the library community, but also licenses data to almost 100 organizations for redistribution. Distributors extend from Thomson subsidiaries such as Dialog and Thomson Financial to their competitors, such as Factiva (Dow Jones/Reuters) and Lexis-Nexis. They have also partnered with new dot-com services like Looksmart and WebMD, as well as click-and-mortar services like Borders.

Paschal has a special place in his heart for online newspapers. He started the old DataTimes online service (bought up by Bell & Howell) decades ago. Following Gale's eternal commitment to multiple delivery avenues, Paschal told us that Gale would feed content to Dialog almost as soon as it got it. "We'll process one feed to Dialog and Gale from Foster City [California]." Negotiations with Gannett and Thomson extended over a year. Initially, Dialog negotiated with the publisher, but later, when everyone knew Thomson was taking over Dialog, Gale took over as "point man" on the deal, according to Paschal.

Dialog has had an archive of the Gannett content extending back to 1998, but it consists of full-text wire stories circulated by Gannett to its regional newspapers from its Washington and regional bureaus. Selected articles culled from regional newspapers also appear in the service. The file is not a true newspaper archive. The articles taken from local newspaper sources received poor archiving—e.g., individual newspapers might have as many as 12 different titles in the journal name field. The new deal, as confirmed by a Gannett representative, definitely includes Dialog. It should bring a major new level of quality, as well as ultimately almost doubling the total number of newspapers covered on Dialog.

Every silver lining has a cloud, however. Apparently in the course of assembling archives, Gannett is eliminating all content from freelance authors for which they do not have clear electronic rights. Responding to concerns over the Tasini copyright case rulings, they are handpicking and eliminating any articles not contractually secure from their archives. This will leave searchers unable to know what has and hasn't been covered in the course of a search. However, a Gannett representative assured us that almost all freelance arrangements for the last 2 years have encompassed such rights. Since the new database only goes back to 1999, that should make searching the new archive relatively comprehensive. However, it does diminish the chances of ever extending similar thoroughness into older archives.


Barbara Quint was senior editor of Online Searcher, co-editor of The Information Advisor’s Guide to Internet Research, and a columnist for Information Today.


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