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TV News



"I’m just second hand news"
                                --Fleetwood Mac

In scholarly legal writing, as much as in legal practice itself, there is the law and there are the facts, the difference being that in practice the facts come along as part of the case, whereas in legal writing facts are often pieced together later. We are familiar with articles citing to newspapers, but why do we not see more citations to television news stories?  If this was a problem in the past it isn’t any more. If you are looking for a television news broadcast, it’s out there. 

The leader in this area is the Vanderbilt Television NewsArchive. The Television News Archive (TNA) has been around for some time and prides itself on its extensive coverage. The TNA contains recordings of the news broadcasts of national networks starting on August 5, 1968. The networks covered include ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, and Fox News. The archive currently holds 1,014,055 records. The archive is searchable (both basic and advanced) and browsable by date. The news broadcasts are accessible through a lending program. After finding what you want you inform them of your selections which can either be a duplication of a particular broadcast or a more expensive compilation of several broadcasts. The completed video is then mailed in DVD format. Orders generally take a week to process and mail, and there is a fee involved which must be paid before an order is completed. 

If you can’t wait around for a DVD then the folks behind the Internet Archive have a solution. The have created a database of approximately 365,000 broadcasts from a wide variety of news outlets, not just national news broadcasts. Coverage includes Al Jazeera, BBC, C-SPAN, Univision, and many more. They only go back to 2009, but much of what they have is available in streaming format and also have DVDs available to borrow. 

My impression is that the Vanderbilt Television News Archive is the superior service, especially for historical studies. However, the value of the Internet Archive is its variety of sources and ability to stream video. If you are looking for something from a particular program from the last few years go with the Internet Archive. If you are looking for something more in-depth, or how a particular topic was treated over time go with the Television News Archive.

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