Internet Archive to bring TV news footage to the public

Knight Foundation funds expansion of TV archive that allows for search and borrowing of clips

SAN FRANCISCO (May 21, 2013) – The Internet Archive, one of the world’s largest public digital libraries, will expand its research library to make readily available hundreds of thousands of U.S. television news programs, with $1 million in support from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

“TV stations capture some the most important news events in a format that is too often locked away. This project with the Internet Archive makes these important stories accessible to journalists, researchers and the pubic through a deep, user-friendly site,” said Michael Maness, vice president for journalism and media innovation at Knight Foundation.

With this funding, the archive will expand its TV News Search & Borrow service, which now includes 400,000 broadcasts dating back to June 2009. The aim is to help strengthen the work of journalists, scholars, teachers, librarians, civic organizations and others.

The service uses closed captioning to allow users to search, quote and borrow U.S. TV news programs. Available at no charge, the public can use the index of searchable text and short-streamed clips to explore TV news. In this way, they can discover important resources, better understand context, verify facts and share insights. The research service does not facilitate downloading, but individuals have the opportunity view whole programs at the Internet Archive’s library in San Francisco or borrow them on DVD-ROMs.

Along with enhancing current offerings, funding will also go to expanding the archive to add new features and website enhancements that will improve user experience and strengthen audience engagement. Plans are also underway to integrate it with media partner collections.

“We are beginning to see important public benefits arising from this new capability to apply digital search and analysis to news from our most pervasive and persuasive medium— television,” said Roger Macdonald, Internet Archive television news project director. “Documentarians are finding key news footage to license. Educators are showing their students how news stories are told and audiences are engaged. Researchers are using it to identify important trends across the media landscape.”

Macdonald further highlighted as an example, the recent use of the service by researchers at the MIT Center for Civic Media and Harvard’s Berkman Center, to uncover the role of television news in driving the evolution of the Trayvon Martin story.

Since its founding in 1996, the Internet Archive has established new models for responsible digital conservation by partnering with public and private content creators, distributors and repositories.  The Internet Archive is widely recognized as a leader in advocating digital access to knowledge and open standards for its preservation and discovery.  Over 3 million users a day access its digital collections—including music, books, moving images and more than 300 billion archived web pages.

Knight supported Internet Archive’s initial development of a database of television programming with the aim of increasing voter engagement during the 2012 presidential election.  Leading up to the election, that database allowed citizens to reference and compare election coverage, as a way to strengthen the accountability of politicians and the news media.

About Internet Archive

The Internet Archive is non-profit digital library founded in 1996, supported by libraries and foundation grants.  The Archive seeks to extend into the digital age the preservation of society’s cultural artifacts and to provide universal access to them, supporting education and scholarship.

About the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

Knight Foundation supports transformational ideas that promote quality journalism, advance media innovation, engage communities and foster the arts. We believe that democracy thrives when people and communities are informed and engaged. For more, visit

Contact: Andrew Sherry, Vice President/Communications, (305) 908-2677, [email protected]