Newspapers FAQ

Many newspaper publishers are heavily promoting individual subscriptions and limiting institutional access. As a result, we unfortunately do not have a way to provide a daily digital subscription to the New York Times for the BU community.

Many, many newspapers have not yet been digitized, and are available only in the town library publishing the newspaper.

Digital archives of newspapers are quite expensive, and can cost as much as $40,000 for a single title. We are adding archives as funds become available.

Before the rush to digitize, many newspaper archives and collections were purchased in microfilm. We may have the newspaper you need in a non-searchable format; or the contents may be searchable online, but as text-only (rather than a digital image.)

Newspapers in languages other than English are usually not available in translation.

Many newspaper databases allow selected access and searching by keyword or subject over multiple sources. They may provide news as re-formatted content; may not provide all articles in an issue, or all years of a single newspaper; or may not consistently provide access to the same titles from year-to-year. If you can’t find a particular article, please talk to reference librarians.

The Tasini decision of 2001 – New York Times vs Tasini – requires that newspapers selling digital rights to published content in databases must have explicit permission of the contributing freelance writers or photographers, or compensate them for using the material. Many newspapers took the expedient course of removing material for which they had no explicit permission – hence, the gaps.
However, the decision did not apply to microfilm, the archival medium of choice before digital access became prevalent. Since we have many major newspapers in microfilm, you may well be able to retrieve the missing image. Ask us!