Chicago Tribune Banks on Images

Posted on 2/2/2010 by Julia Dudnik Stern | Printable Version | Comments (1)

As struggling newspapers look for new sources of revenue, most are attempting to monetize their daily news content online. Chicago Tribune is expanding on the same idea: the paper is digitizing its image archive and making it work—including as a stock-image asset.

The paper is paying a Mass. archivist Image Fortress to digitize the collection and has a representation arrangement with collectibles dealer Jay Parrino’s The Mint. Chicago Tribune news administration editor Randall Weissman said The Mint’s expertise will be essential in figuring out which vintage photos will sell at premium prices as prints.

Weissman also has plans for licensing rights to the digital images. For this, the newspaper is using the LicenseStream platform of Calif.-based ImageSpan. Weissman said that the Tribune selected LicenseStream because it offers an opportunity for financial growth at a critical time for the media.

“All newspapers are looking for ways to leverage their assets as the traditional revenue streams decline,” he said. “We think LicenseStream offers the Tribune an opportunity to market our extensive collection of historic images through the Web and major search engines while protecting our intellectual property.”

The historical—as in preservation for posterity—value of the Chicago Tribune archive is beyond dispute. However, its monetary value as either a source of print sales or image-licensing revenue is not as clear. Yet we know there is a market for both, at least for celebrated image archives: Bloomberg reports that Michael Dell’s investment firm, MSD Capital, has acquired about 185,000 vintage photographic prints from Magnum in what is thought to be among the largest photo transactions in history.

Copyright © 2010 Julia Dudnik Stern. The above article may not be copied, reproduced, excerpted or distributed in any manner without written permission from the author. All requests should be submitted to Selling Stock at 10319 Westlake Drive, Suite 162, Bethesda, MD 20817, phone 301-461-7627, e-mail: wvz@fpcubgbf.pbz


  • Bill Bachmann Posted Feb 2, 2010
    I am sure the photographers worked "for hire". But that should NOT apply to stock selling... I hope they are going to pay the photographers extra.

    Any information on that, Julia.

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