2017 is the 50th anniversary of the Public Broadcasting Act. Join Current for Get with The Program!: Shows that Shaped Public Television, a series of online events looking at some of the most influential public TV programs of all time. First up: Firing Line, the legendary public affairs program hosted by conservative intellectual William F. Buckley. Watch clips of Firing Line, courtesy of the Hoover Institution Archives, and discuss the impact of this groundbreaking show on American culture and public TV itself. Guests include Heather Hendershot, author of “Open to Debate: How William F. Buckley Put Liberal America on The Firing Line” and former ABC News analyst Jeff Greenfield. This free event is Wednesday, May 24 at 1 pm ET. Reserve your spot here: bit.ly/pba50-firingline.
In January 2016, the Council on Library and Information Resources awarded WGBH, the Library of Congress, WETA, and NewsHour Productions, LLC a grant to digitize, preserve, and make publicly accessible on the AAPB website 32 years of NewsHour predecessor programs, from October 1975 to December 2007, that currently exist on obsolete analog formats. Described by co-creator Robert MacNeil as “a place where the news is allowed to breathe, where we can calmly, intelligently look at what has happened, what it means and why it is important,” the NewsHour has consistently provided a forum for newsmakers and experts in many fields to present their views at length in a format intended to achieve clarity and balance, rather than brevity and ratings. A Gallup Poll found the NewsHour America’s “most believed” program. We are honored to preserve this monumental series and include it in AAPB.
Last week, our contract archivist Alexander (AJ) Lawrence completed the inventory of 7,320 NewsHour tapes stored in 523 boxes located in WETA’s storage units in Arlington, Virginia, comprising the bulk of the collection. (Additional content is located at two other locations.)
“I was so excited to receive Casey’s initial email asking about my interest in the NewsHour project. I’ve been a life long watcher of the program and the chance to be involved in the preservation of such a valuable resource for historical research seemed like a wonderful opportunity.
The process of inventorying the entire collection seemed pretty daunting on my first day when I got my first in-person look at the storage units housing the estimated 7,500 tapes. However, the process has gone quite smoothly overall and we’ve now surpassed the halfway point. Generally, the tapes have little more than a date to identify them, but it’s been especially interesting to come across the tapes for significant historical events over the past 40+ years. These tapes in particular offered me a chance to reflect on some major cultural milestones I’ve witnessed, often through coverage by the NewsHour team. That said, it was also fun to come across the broadcast that aired on the day I was born, as well as the very first broadcast of The MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour.
Thankfully, I haven’t been tackling the entire inventory alone. I need to offer a special thanks to Matthew Graylin, a desk assistant with the NewsHour who’s been tasked with assisting me with the work. Needless to say, conducting an archival inventory is well beyond the normal duties of a broadcast news assistant, but Matthew has dived in with gusto. We still have a few weeks together, so hopefully I can convert him into a future audiovisual archivist in that time.”
We have also selected a digitization vendor for the project and are looking to begin pilot tests for digitization within the next month. Meanwhile, the Library has instituted quality control procedures to ensure that all digitized files will be properly preserved for present and future generations.
We can’t wait to get started with digitization and look forward to making this monumental series accessible as part of the AAPB collection. In the meantime, we’re pleased to share this clip reel sampling of content that will be digitized, courtesy of NewsHour Productions.
Earlier this month, the AAPB team traveled to beautiful city of Savannah, Georgia to attend the annual Association of Moving Image Archivists (AMIA) conference. AAPB team members Karen Cariani, Casey Davis, Lauren Sorensen, and Sadie Roosa gave multiple presentations and coordinated events throughout the conference, including Karen’s presentation on WGBH’s new open-source digital repository, HydraDAM; Lauren Sorensen’s Github 101 presentation and her coordination of the annual DLF/AMIA AV Hack Day; Casey’s presentation and committee updates on the work of the AMIA PBCore Advisory Subcommittee; and Sadie’s leadership and coordination of the AMIA News, Documentary, and Television Committee meeting. And on the last day of the conference, Karen, Lauren, and Casey — along with AAPB participants Margaret Bresnahan from Minnesota Public Radio and Nadia Ghasedi from Washington University’s Film and Media Archive — gave a presentation on the progress of the AAPB initiative.
Karen, AAPB Project Director at WGBH, kicked off the presentation by providing an overview of the current grant project’s goals and timeline, as well as goals for the future of the AAPB initiative.
Casey, AAPB Project Manager at WGBH, followed Karen’s presentation by giving an update on the efforts to date at WGBH, including the near conclusion of the digitization project; WGBH’s experience of digital media failure when contributing WGBH files to the AAPB; challenges regarding the submission of digital files from other stations; outreach; PBCore efforts; navigating issues regarding access to the collection; and project proposals.
Lauren, Digital Conversion Specialist for the AAPB at the Library of Congress, then discussed the AAPB work happening at the LOC. Lauren explained collaborations with WGBH on improving metadata and cataloging; PREMIS modeling for preservation metadata at the LOC; mapping PBCore to LOC’s MAVIS system; and the development of a preservation plan.
Then, Margaret Bresnahan (MPR) and Nadia Ghasedi (Washington University) described their experiences as an AAPB contributing institution, including MPR’s participation in the Content Inventory, Digitization, and Born-Digital phases of the initiative, and Washington University’s participation in the Born-Digital phase of the initiative as an academic institution.
The team received excellent feedback from the audience and from AMIA members throughout the conference, and we look forward to sharing more updates on the project at next year’s conference in Portland, Oregon!
The American Archive team from WGBH presented at the PBS Annual Meeting in San Francisco. We had the wonderful opportunity to meet many of our station collaborators in person and gather tremendously useful feedback from participants. Many thanks to all of those who attended the session and reception, as well as those who took the time to meet with us at other moments during the conference. Additionally, we are sincerely grateful to our co-presenters, Sandy Schonning from KQED and Laura Sampson from Rocky Mountain PBS’ Stations Archived Memories program.
Below we’ve provided our Annual Meeting slideshow, divided into three sections: 1) history and progress of the American Archive, 2) stories from stations, and 3) discussion. During the discussion section, we asked a series of questions, and in this version of the presentation you will find a summary of the answers. If your organization is participating in the American Archive, please feel free to comment on this post with your answers to these questions (or questions about these questions!).
Feel free to email any of our session presenters:
Karen Cariani, Director
WGBH Media Library & Archives
karen_cariani [at] wgbh [dot] org
Casey E. Davis, Project Manager, American Archive
WGBH Media Library & Archives
casey_davis [at] wgbh [dot] org
Laura Sampson, Rocky Mountain PBS
Stations Archived Memories
laurasampson [at] me [dot] com
Sandy Schonning, KQED
sschonning [at] kqed [dot] org