How To Find Old News Articles Using Web Scrapers

Mckenna Arthur
September 30, 2020

As a writer, I’ve always loved finding old news articles and analyzing them thoroughly. When I come across one when visiting senior family members or at antique stores, I love studying the way people wrote back in the day and admiring the change of how our world has digitized within the past couple of decades. But, when not looking for your leisure, you are probably asking yourself how to find old news articles online?

Reading old news articles isn’t just about entertainment, especially if you’re a business professional. Reading, collecting, and analyzing old news articles can tell you a great deal about the past so you can make better decisions for the future and reach your goals more effectively.

Web scraping news sites give you many opportunities to revolutionize research, business, or personal use for these articles. In this blog, I will delve into different topics surrounding finding news articles online, so feel free to use the table of contents to view the information that best pertains to you.

Table of Contents

What is Web Scraping and How to Find Old News Articles Online

where to get old newspapers

Knowing why you should be web scraping without actually knowing what that is could be a little bit of a challenge, so let me explain further.

What is web scraping?

Web scraping, in short, is the automatic extraction of public data from a website. Once the information is collected, it extracts the data to put it into a document, such as a spreadsheet. Or, you can use a web scraping API (application program interface) to collect real-time data for your software. . Both the web scraper and the API’s goal is to access web data. Still, the API allows users to ask our scrapers for the data they need and delivers it back to them. If you want to learn more about our API, check out our blog on our Web Scraping API.

Scraping Robot’s API allows you to gather the ‘real-time’ information that I mentioned earlier. Our API allows you to get the data you asked for and return that to you, typically within a minute or faster. The process is fluid, automatic, mistake-free in gathering and returning your data, and the best way for you to scrape old newspaper articles archived online.

How to find old news articles to scrape

There are a countless number of newspaper databases that had archived news articles back to when the printing press was invented. But, depending on the time frame and if your articles have already been digitized might impact your process. 

For example, you could utilize Scraping Robot’s HTML scraping module if you’re wanting to search your local news site and the sites of surrounding news organizations (if allowed). Once you search these sites, you can do one of two things: scrape the search page, or scrape the links to the article themselves. Depending on how in-depth you need your information, you paste the links into the scraper.

Once the data is parsed through, you can decide which information is most relevant to you and categorize that for your use. The same process can be repeated with other sites, but there are other things to consider before scraping a site.

Why Scrape Old Newspaper Articles?

how to find old news articles

If you’re like me and wondering how scraping news articles can help you personally or professionally, let me give you a few reasons that you should utilize a web scraping tool.

Research purposes

Let me present this to you in a hypothetical way. Say you are researching the cultural backgrounds of past city council members for a given town. If you were to search that in your local news’s search bar, you could potentially come up with thousands of results to search through.

By web scraping the site, you can have all instances of your search query gathered and organized into one document. This helps to not only present you the information you’re wanting without sifting through an entire article but to save you a lot of time and sanity.

Managing chatter about your organization

Landscaping is a term often used in public relations to describe the action of monitoring how others are talking about your company online. This could be on any given social media platform or through news articles!

Knowing exactly how others are talking and perceiving, your company must maintain a good reputation and excel in your PR position. Most importantly, essential to stop any potential disasters before they spiral out of proportion. Examples of something a news outlet could pick up are social media posts from an inappropriate employee, procedures not being followed in product manufacturing that gets shared online, or employees giving horrible customer service.

If you utilize a web scraper and run an API every minute, you can get notifications of any news postings about you so you can manage and prevent PR disasters.

Take notes from your competition

If your news articles aren’t delivering the results you’re hoping for; one solution is to start analyzing data from your competition. You can scrape the sites of your competitors for data points such as:

  • Frequency of posts
  • Engagement (Likes, Comments, Shares) on an article
  • Type of content

While these are only a few ideas, you can gain a relatively good understanding of your competitor’s strategy by scraping these data points from old news articles. With this information, you can also pinpoint a competitor’s mistakes and tweak that to move forward with your strategy.

Follow trends to remain fresh

Trends leave almost as quickly as go. So, staying on top of trending keywords to write about from get-go avoids making the mistake of getting branded as outdated. This is even worse if you have branded yourself as cutting-edge and your content strategy is broken and inauthentic. 

When you utilize an API to scrape news sites, you can pick up on trends the moment to get to work and get hits. You can also analyze how your competitors are writing about the trends, so your tone and way you write about the trend remains fresh and original.

Helps develop your voice and relationship with your audience

Just as if you had a conversation face to face, you want to make sure you’re on the same level as your audience to capture your attention. According to a study from Microsoft, humans have a shorter attention span than goldfish, at only 8 seconds. With limited patience, you have a concise amount of time to captivate your readers to engage with you.

Scraping a site or writer that has a reasonable interaction rate gives you the information to pick up on crucial tone attributes and the way they build relationships with their audiences. You can then use that information to insert in your strategy in writing.

Useful for rewriting articles

Plagiarism can draw a fragile line, but when you scrape old news articles that you want to highlight and redress, you can do this to gather information quickly. This ensures you’re not spending too much time writing and getting content out that you need to promptly.

What to Remember Before Scraping Old Newspaper Articles

finding old news articles

Before you start scraping news sites to analyze their data, there are guidelines you must consider so you avoid any ethical or legal trouble.

Local laws and terms and conditions

Some countries have  laws that can forbid web scraping. It is up to you to do the research to ensure that what you’re scraping is legal and allowed. If it is not, you should consider different news sources or manually research and source to find the information you’re looking for.

In the same realm, a news site can list a term and condition that would not allow web scraping bots to scrape data, so they can avoid others from duplicating news or content.

Personal vs. business use

Another large potential issue is whether you’re using the data for personal use, or if you are selling content or making profit from the content. This could bring in potential copyright issues if you duplicate content. For more in depth information on this topic, check out our Best Practices blog.

Avoid maliciousness!

Besides the legal issues that could ensue with duplicating content, it also belittles the hard work that others have laid out to publish a news article or piece of content they put out. A large part of news is ethics, and you must uphold standards!

Why Use Scraping Robot to Scrape Newspaper Databases?

news articles online

One of the best parts of using Scraping Robot’s web scrapers is that you don’t have to be a programmer to understand and get use of our modules. Our easy-to-use scraping modules (insert link) allow anyone and everyone to access data for their personal and professional needs. However, if you are a programmer, our versatile interface will enable you to utilize our API within minutes to start finding the news articles you need online!

We offer 5000 free scrapes for you to get acquainted with our modules, and once you run out, our pricing page is a great reference to see exactly(!) how each additional scrape can fit into your budget. At an additional $0.0018 per scrape and with no other fees besides that, so we can fit into any budget. Also, if our API doesn’t deliver your results within 60 seconds, we will refund the money of your scrape. 

And, if you want to take our HTML Scraper to a new level, you can contact our team to create a custom module that will maximize your news finding to the fullest! We’re eager to hear from you and would love to create a module unique to you, so feel free to contact our team anytime to get started!

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