I have officially completed my project as a Research Assistant in the Media Library and Archives at WGBH. While not the entire history, a large portion of the predecessor programs for the PBS NewsHour, and their proxy files, have been successfully reviewed and made available. You can view the collection on the American Archive of Public Broadcasting website at http://americanarchive.org/special_collections/newshour.
The PBS NewsHour Collection includes more than 8,000 episodes of PBS NewsHour’s predecessor programs from October 1975 to December 2007. Thousands of additional episodes from 2009 through 2018 that were recently contributed to the AAPB by the Internet Archive will be added in the coming weeks. (Thank you, Internet Archive!)
My general sentiments from my previous blog post remain the same: adaptability, handling unpredictable aspects and going outside my comfort zone, were skills I developed greatly. Nowhere was this more evident than the last batch of proxy files I worked on.
The final batch was a notable shift from the files I previously reviewed in terms of content. While there were transcripts and the videos were all complete, most had no subtitles. Here I slowed down my pace and paid closer attention to each individual file, sometimes watching reports for longer than usual to record all the necessary metadata. But I never stumbled or faltered under this unexpected change-up; if anything, it felt like an impromptu final exam for everything I learned up to this point.
In addition to learning the need for adaptability, I also learned a lot of the history recorded in the NewsHour, and several episodes stood out as personal favorites. I already mentioned the 100th birthday report for Walt Disney, but I never knew the whole town of Celebration, Florida, was also conceived and constructed by the Disney company as well. Even the NewsHour itself was part of the historical events it covered: one of the show’s episodes in 1979, when it was called The MacNeil/Lehrer Report, focused on correspondent Charlayne Hunter-Gault‘s experience as one of the first African-American students at the University of Georgia, as part of a reflection on the 25th anniversary of the Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court ruling.
If I had to choose my favorite NewsHour segment, though, it would have to a report from 1988 with the simple name “Gamesmanship.” It’s a quaint piece by today’s standards, looking at the craze surrounding the popularity of the Nintendo Entertainment System and the original Legend of Zelda, but it also represents the kind of history I want to preserve. My dream job would be working in the International History for the Center of Electronic Games (ICHEG) at the Strong National Museum of Play, preserving games as far back as the early 1970s for future generations. I learned quite a bit about myself from all those years attached to a d-pad (for better or worse), and strange as it may sound, it gave me the work ethic to commit to the NewsHour project for as long as I did.
“Gamesmanship.” The MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour. 1988-12-26.
Looking back on the past several months, I can’t think of my time on this digitization project as anything other than positive. Whether I stay here at WGBH, pursue my dream job at the Strong, or end up somewhere else is unclear. But what is clear is I definitely learned a lot about myself: how to adapt, overcome my personal hangups, and find ways to use my passions in a way that benefits the people around me.
Does that mean all my future archiving endeavors will be cakewalks? Of course not. But at least now I can adapt to the wild twists and turns that come with historical preservation, the most important skill of all.
Written by Ben Gogel, https://www.linkedin.com/in/bengogel/