Reflections launches “NewsArk”
MCKENZIE BRIDGE: A wealth of historic news stories and archives of the McKenzie River are being transformed from fragile newsprint and preserved in easily accessible digital files. The material will comprise all the back issues of McKenzie River Reflections, the area’s community newspaper, which began publishing on August 23, 1978.
The work, which involves scanning some 15,000-tabloid size pages, began in 2005 when the publication partnered with SmallTownPapers of Shelton, WA. The company scans directly from printed newsprint pages, digitizes the content and formats it into a fully searchable database. According to the company’s president, Paul Jeffko, many small-town publishers (particularly weeklies) operate on a tight budget, and very few have their archives recorded on microfilm. “We’re working with heavy, old, frail bound volumes — difficult material — and I was up for the challenge.”
With all that scanning and data basing nearly complete, River Reflections co-publisher Ken Engelman this week announced the launch of the NewsArk, a crowdfunding project designed to take the digital transformation one notch higher. “The searchable database is an extremely useful research tool. It accurately locates key words or phrases and creates a list of clickable links to past articles containing that material,” Engelman says, “however, it shows only an image of a printed page.”
For over a year some subscribers have opted for a digital edition of River Reflections that they receive via email. It is a pdf file that can be cut and pasted as reference materials in most computer word processors. “Besides being extremely easy to navigate, subscribers have told us that is one of their best liked features of the digital edition,” Engelman said.
The NewsArk project will raise $30,000 to reformat the last 35 years of newspapers into pdf files, as well as ebooks that can be enjoyed on desktops and other devices. “Our work involves creating a complete online storehouse of those original newspapers - from 1978 through the current edition,” Engelman said. “It is truly an effort to save stories from the rising tide of time.”
In addition to preserving historical files the project was designed to benefit the River’s small towns by promoting the area to a much wider audience by adding value to the tourism experience. Other goals include:
* Bringing in more tourism dollars to our community to help counteract impacts of this tough economy.
* Giving locals a new appreciation for the beauty and history of this place.
* Supporting local businesses, civic groups, and organizations.
*Making historical information easily accessible to academia and those who work to understand the dynamics of rural communities as well as people striving to help rural communities become self-sustaining
More information about the NewsArk is available at http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/newsark/x/4540332, where the crowdfunding project is now underway.
Image above: A crew at SmallTownPapers of Shelton, WA, has been working since 2005 on a project to preserve 35 years of McKenzie River history by scanning back issues of River Reflections.
McKenzie River Reflections