SAN FRANCISCO – Google Inc. (GOOG) is expanding its online news index to include stories published years ago, continuing the Internet search leader's recent efforts to create new sales channels for long-established media while it strives to make its own Web site even more useful.
The news archive to be unveiled Wednesday includes old articles provided by a long list of media, including The New York Times (NYT), The Wall Street Journal, Time magazine and The Washington Post.
Other leading information storehouses like LexisNexis, Factiva and HighBeam, also have opened up sections of their databases to Google's expanded index.
Until now, Google's 4-year-old news search service has focused primarily on stories posted on the Web during the past 30 days.
The new archives feature will only share excerpts from stories related to users' requests, which are expected to range from seminal moments in history to minutiae about sports and science.
To see the full stories, Google's visitors will be sent to the Web sites that own the content. Those referrals figure to provide media outlets with more opportunities to charge for access to the full stories — a common practice when people want to read historical information.
"This is going to be a very good thing for us," said Vivian Schiller, senior vice president and general manager of NYTimes.com. "There is a tremendous hunger out there for our archives."
Google won't collect any commissions for the sales referrals, hoping instead to make money indirectly from increased usage of its own site — the hub of a vast advertising network that accounted for most of the company's $1.3 billion profit during the first half of this year.
The arrangement marks Google's latest attempt to demonstrate the value of its search engine to the traditional media, a segment that has sometimes railed against the Mountain View-based company for profiting from the display of content owned by others.
The friction triggered a copyright infringement lawsuit by one major news organization, Agence France-Presse, which is seeking at least $17.5 million in damages. Google has denied the allegations.
Signs of a more cordial relationship with major media have emerged during the past month as Google announced separate business deals with The Associated Press and Viacom Inc.'s (VIA-B) MTV Networks.
The search engine also is aggressively promoting a video service that allows television networks and movie studios to sell content.
The news archive service represents "a perfect example of how we can work with content providers to realize their business goals," said Jim Gerber, Google's content partnerships director.
Patrick Spain, chief executive of HighBeam Research Inc., views Google's new service as a significant breakthrough for his Chicago-based service, which charges for access to most of the 40 million articles in its database.
"We would love to have people just come to HighBeam to do all their searches in the first place, but we are not naive enough to believe that is going to happen," he said.