Google News archive is halfway there

Like many others, I’ve been waiting for Google to update or enhance Google News for a long time now, and one of the things that has been missing is a sense of time. The announcement of an archive feature answers that issue, and is a fantastic resource for anyone who wants to look at news from before this week (Topix has a good one too, as Steve Rubel points out) — but it is still missing something that would make it a whole lot more useful.

If you poke around a bit inside the Google News archive, you will quickly find out what that missing something is, because you will be directed to half a dozen individual news websites — whether they are newspapers or news services such as Reuter’s Factiva — where you will be confronted by half a dozen different login and signup pages, which will then prompt you for passwords and credit card numbers and ask you whether you want to buy a five-article package or the deluxe 10-article package or whatever. You can almost feel your interest in whatever you were searching for expiring.

My hope is that Google will take this pay-wall search feature and incorporate it somehow with Google Checkout or some other payment feature, and allow searchers to click and pay for all the articles they want through a single portal, with a single login. To me, that would be the Holy Grail of searching — and I’m willing to bet that if it was organized properly, newspapers and even services such as Factiva would celebrate it as well. Why not have Google direct traffic to your archives, and then pay a small fee for the Googleplex to handle all the transactions, while you sit back and count the money?

Seems like a no-brainer to me.

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