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‘Project Zombie’ – a strategy for evergreen publishing

Publishers have been reposting their old articles for years, but now the tools available to them are getting more sophisticated.

Swiss news publisher Le Temps has a whimsically named Project Zombie that notifies the editor, via Slack bot or email, which articles will do well if they are published again on the site or social media.

“The idea is to double up the tools to extract older articles with the potential of still doing well, giving a second life to those that deserve it,” said Yannick Rochat, a data scientist from the University of Lausanne who’s working on the project. The project, which will be open source, received €45,000, ($47,800) from Google’s Digital News Initiative last November.

Le Temps publishes about 70 articles a day. The publisher has built a database of 100,000 articles dating back to 1998, which it’s now in the process of classifying. For this, it needs to know three things: what topics and people the articles are talking about; how well the article originally performed, using data from Google Analytics and Chartbeat on pageviews, dwell time, comments and shares; and what’s trending now, using data from Google Trends, Google News and Twitter. Using this information, Le Temps calculates a relevancy score out of 100 for each article.

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