How to FIX IT+ and Why: Crowdsourcing to Save Public Media Materials

Most public radio and television organizations are at-risk of losing their archival materials due to deterioration and the high costs associated with digitization. The American Archive of Public Broadcasting (AAPB) is partnering with George Blood L.P., a digitization vendor, to help AAPB’s contributing organizations preserve their collection one transcript and one tape at a time in the Transcribe to Digitize Challenge.

Article highlights:

  • The American Archive of Public Broadcasting (AAPB) is a digital archive of public radio and television programs from contributing stations across the nation, available online at
  • Each program in the archive has a computer-generated, speech-to-text transcript to improve keywords search
  • These transcripts are not accurate and have been made available for the public to help proof and edit through AAPB’s editing site, FIX IT+ at
  • George Blood L.P., a digitization vendor, has agreed to provide FREE digitization for each station that corrects a minimum number of transcripts in FIX IT+, a.k.a. The Transcribe to Digitize Challenge
  • The public is invited to help individual stations in this Challenge reach their goal of 20 corrected transcripts
  • Crowdsourcing provides two lasting outcomes for the future
  • Tune-in to a video interview with a WGBH volunteer on his experience with FIX IT+
  • Below are three easy steps for participating

Making America’s Public Broadcasting Legacy Searchable and Accessible

The American Archive of Public Broadcasting (AAPB), a collaboration between the Library of Congress and WGBH to preserve a national archive of public radio and television programming accessible to the public, has partnered with George Blood, a digitization service provider, to help mitigate the costs of digitization through the Transcribe to Digitize Challenge.

Over the past five years, the AAPB has digitized and preserved more than 50,000 hours of public programming created by stations and producers across the United States. This unique historic material, created as early as the 1940s, often lacks closed captioning and represents our shared and diverse cultural heritage. Yet it is not highly discoverable to researchers, educators, students, lifelong learners, journalists and the public because it lacks descriptive information.

With funding from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), the AAPB has created speech-to-text transcripts of the audio and video materials in the collection. These transcripts can be used to improve the accessibility of the collection through the addition of new keywords and by exposing the time-stamped transcript alongside the program on the AAPB website.

Keywords search and time-stamped transcripts alongside the program on

However, these computer-generated transcripts lack accuracy, and the AAPB is seeking the help of the public to correct them!

A Call to Action

For the Transcribe to Digitize Challenge, a minimum of 20 transcripts must be corrected in AAPB’s FIX IT+,, for a station to meet the challenge, and George Blood will then provide free digitization for 20 tapes selected by that station. Up to 100 transcripts can be corrected for 100 tapes to be digitized per station. The digitized materials will be delivered back to each station, and a copy will also go to the AAPB for long-term preservation at the Library of Congress and access through the AAPB website!

Stations like WGBH, Louisiana Public Television, Rocky Mountain PBS, and Wisconsin Public Television have opted-in to the challenge and must correct their transcripts by December 2019, and participating in this challenge creates two lasting outcomes:

  1. Completed transcripts are made available online at for students, educators, journalists, and life long learners to access.
  2. Your help could be the result of a station’s free digitization.

But don’t take our word for it… here’s the perspective of a WGBH volunteer editor!

Editing is as easy as 1-2-3:

1. Filter Content by Station

Visit and filter the content by participating station; i.e. “WGBH” and sort by “Completeness (most to least)”.

The filter bar is located on the homepage of

Direct links:

Louisiana Public Television Transcripts 

Rocky Mountain PBS Transcripts

Wisconsin Public Television Transcripts

WGBH Transcripts 

2. Select a Transcript

Transcript tile

Select an unedited transcript OR continue editing a transcript that has already been started by another user. Each transcript requires two reviews, so feel free to choose a topic that interests you and spend anywhere from 10 mins to an hour editing. All your edits are saved automatically.

“Transcript tiles” note the transcript’s contributing station, the program title, its series, a brief description, the program’s duration, number of contributing editors, and a progress bar.

3. Become Familiar with Simple Editing Conventions

You can listen to the audio by clicking the ‘play’ icon to the left of each line, and then correct the text on-screen using your keyboard. For more editing details, click the “View a Tutorial” button at the top of the transcript’s page for standard conventions.

Green lines note when lines are completed and no longer need editing. The gray lines still need reviewing.

Questions? Contact Ryn Marchese, AAPB Engagement and Use Manager at, 617-300-3644.


#InnovationMonday: Dr. Michael DeBakey and Heart Surgery

Want to help make this interview searchable and accessible online? While listening to Dr. DeBakey’s interview, audiences can edit the grammatical errors made in the computer-generated transcript at!

Produced by Louisiana Public Broadcasting (LPB), this episode of the series “Louisiana Legends” (1982) features the first part of an interview with Dr. Michael DeBakey, a native of Lake Charles, LA who was a preeminent surgeon whose innovations revolutionized heart surgery. During his interview, Dr. DeBakey discusses his father’s immigration to Lake Charles from Lebanon, how he became interested in the heart, the impact of Dr. Alton Ochsner on his career, and his interactions with President Richard Nixon, President John F. Kennedy, and President Lyndon B. Johnson.

“Louisiana Legends” is a talk show hosted by Gus Weill conducting in-depth conversations with Louisiana cultural icons. This series has been digitized and preserved in the American Archive of Public Broadcasting (AAPB) and the public can help make this interview searchable and accessible through the Transcribe to Digitize Challenge!

How does it work? The AAPB has created computer-generated transcripts for each radio and television program in the archive. Stations like LPB are engaging the public to help correct puncutation or misspelled words to make the program available online. These programs are then searchable by keywords and timestamps much like this interview with James Baldwin (WGBH, 1963) –

You can start editing here

Or watch the full interview at

To learn how the Transcribe to Digitize Challenge is providing FREE digitization to AAPB’s participating organizations, visit

Thank you!