By: Wayne Robins

Microfilm To Be Digitized By Canadian Company

Alexander Hamilton’s editorials – online from the New York Post? The
archives of America’s oldest continually-published daily are going online, and
may be accessible in time for the November bicentennial of the Federalists’
paper, founded in 1801.

“Our archives are really a treasure trove,” said Post Editor Ken
Chandler. “Over the years we’ve kept them intact on microfilm, but obviously
that’s a very cumbersome way to reach them.”

The digitizing is being done by Cold North Wind, a two-year-old company based in
Ottowa, Ontario, with a division in Framingham, Mass. Last year the parent
company of The Toronto Star bought a minority share in Cold North Wind,
which is also digitizing the entire archives of that newspaper.

“Newspapers are the only record of continuous daily life for the last 400
years,” Cold North Wind’s CEO Bob Huggins said in an interview with E&P Online
last week. The company says it has acquired digital rights to thousands of
newspapers dating back to the 1700’s. Its proprietary software, known as Paper
of Record, scans microfilm to create digital images of the original newspaper
pages. The archives will be searchable, and can be automatically updated with a
streaming feed.

Cold North Wind and the newspapers with which it works will share revenue.
Neither Huggins nor Chandler of the Post knows how the numbers or
percentages will play out. But Huggins expects that subscriptions will
“eliminate the nonsense of paying $2.95 or whatever per article.”

Chandler added, “We don’t look at it as something that’s going to generate great
revenues. But we’re sitting on an asset we haven’t been able to exploit until
now, so it’s all kind of gravy.”

Wayne Robins (wrobins@editorandpublisher.com) is an associate editor covering new media for E&P.

Copyright 2001, Editor & Publisher.

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