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Front Page » November 9, 2004 » Opinion » Signs of the times
Published 3,642 days ago

Signs of the times


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By KEN LARSON
Sun Advocate publisher

I remember 25 years ago when I worked for the public relations department of a Montana University and it was important for us to know which articles were being printed in the various weekly and daily newspapers. We would send out hundreds of releases each month about students attending the college and we wanted to know which hometown newspapers were picking up the releases. To easily obtain this information we hired a clipping service to forward us any stories about the college. I remember visiting the center once in Helena and literally seeing tables stacked with newspapers. The service had several customers, including all the state colleges, and they had to read every newspaper front to back and clip out articles. It looked like a Santa's newspaper workshop as people sat around the tables with large stacks of papers in front of them and scissors and folders, organizing the clippings.

Those days are gone in Utah with a recent electronic technical program.

Can you imaging reading 500 newspaper pages today and remember every word you read, then tomorrow do it again, and every day after for years and years? Now, in a matter of seconds, you can find a specific article that was printed months ago. The new process began in October through the Utah Press Association. They implemented their vision, called Utah Newssearch, and it brings current newspapers to the safety of a digital repository and in doing so allows instant access to the entire content by creating a data base linked to a searchable PDF file. Imagine being able to do a keyword search of every word in every newspaper in the entire state of Utah, then being able to save the article as an electronic PDF document and to share it via email.

The Utah Press Association has teamed up with ColorMax to provide a digitized, completely searchable newspaper format.

Gone are the days of people sitting around tables with stacks of newspapers and scissors searching for stories or agencies they are interested in.

This service is particularly important to government agencies, attorneys, non profit agencies and universities.

ColorMax and UPA maintains the necessary hardware and software infrastructure to securely store and provide subscription access to the UPA statewide newspaper data base. People can now have instant 24/7 access to the information contained within the majority of the newspapers in Utah.

Along this line, but totally separate The Utah Digital Newspapers program continues to take old newspapers and get them recorded. Many libraries and newspaper basements throughout Utah have stacks of old newspapers stored in bound volumes. These often date back to the late 1800s and in many cases they have been put on micro fish and can be found in various libraries. Two years ago, thanks to a federal grant, Utah was able to digitize another 12 old newspapers, including three from Carbon county. These were all predecessors of the Sun Advocate.

Operated by the U.'s J. Willard Marriott Library, in partnership with Brigham Young University, and contains 200,000 digitized pages from 25 newspapers in 14 Utah counties, printed between 1879 and 1956. Their Web site can be accessed at http://www.digitalnewspapers.org/.

The digitization process developed at the U. delivers high-quality images and accurate keyword searching at low costs and puts the U. on the leading edge of newspaper digitization, according to the association. "With this program we can open up long-forgotten Utah history to a whole new generation of Internet-savvy users. And since we're a public institution funded with state and federal monies, it's all free. Our eventual goal is to have a robust, statewide collection that will satisfy practically any newspaper researcher's need," explains John Herbert, program director.

The result will be a single searchable database, allowing patrons the ease of searching across all the Utah newspapers at once.

Things are changing in the newspaper business and our past, as well as our present all of a sudden is at our finger tips.


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November 9, 2004
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