US newspapers in the Google time tunnel: Part 1
At the same time as doing my research on UK newspaper success with social media, I was also looking at the social media success of a range of US newspapers. I thought it might be fun to peer back through the Google time tunnel and see how 25 American newspapers looked and ranked online in 2001.
The Arizona Republic ranked at #1 for their newspaper name on Google in 2001, but sadly the site is blocked from the Wayback Machine, so you can't see how it used to look.
Mind you, looking at the 2001 results I did spot a way Russia could infuriate the West even more than by supporting illegal breakaway regions like South Ossetia and Abkhazia - they could throw their weight behind the Baja Arizona Republic, which also ranked highly for the term 'Arizona Republic' back then.
In 2008 the online incarnation of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution can be found at ajc.com. In 2001 however, the top ranking result for their name was the rather more unwieldy www.accessatlanta.com/partners/ajc. The results also included the separate ajcclassifieds.com site, and 'The Stacks' - an "archive of staff-written and other selected articles from 1985 to the present."
Unlike the Arizona Republic, you can peek back at the 2001 edition of the Journal-Constitution.
In Google's January 2001 index, it is the Chicago Sun-Times' election coverage that was ranked #1, rather than the homepage.
The Chicago Tribune out-ranked the Sun-Times in 2001 for the keyword "chicago". It comes in at #16 in Google's vintage index, compared to the Sun-Times at #45. In the intervening years, this ranking lead has increased. If you search Google for "chicago" today, the Tribune is at #10, whilst the Sun-Times has sunk to #65.
The Cleveland Plain Dealer is one of the few newspapers that did not rank in first place for its name in 2001. Instead, Google ranks the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in top spot.
In 2001, Plain Dealer content was split between two domains: cleveland.com and plaindealer.com.
These days, the latter URL is just a corporate portal page.
A 2001-era search for the Dallas Morning News brings back the dallasnews.com site at #1. Like many of the newspapers in this survey, the coverage captured by the Internet Archive is focused on news in Afghanistan rather than local news.
It is noticeable though that in 2001 the branding of the paper was just as strong as the online identity, whereas the current design sees freep.com take centre stage.
The Houston Chronicle easily ranked on Google for their name in 2001, and the Wayback Machine has a very good copy of one of their front pages from that time.
In 2001 the LA Times was also having problems with the Google index - the science section and comment sections were ranked #1 and #2 by the search engine, rather than the homepage.
The Star Tribune was in top spot for their name in 2001, and the copy of the site on the Internet Archive shows that as far back as 2001 they were running audio content on their site, indicated by icons that preceded the relevant story.
Tomorrow I'll be looking at some more US newspapers through the Google time tunnel, starting with some of the New York press.