The Special Collections at the University of North Texas Libraries holds the news archive for NBC 5 (formerly WBAP/KXAS) that began broadcasting in 1948 and is the oldest television news station in Texas. The collection is currently very popular with filmmakers and other commercial users, but we'd like to increase its use among UNT students and faculty. The collection is ripe for student-generated digital humanities projects, but we need to understand the limitations of such products before we can encourage its use within our university community.
This website serves as both both the project and product; it documents our project goals, research sources, and challenges to access and creation. It also serves as a platform for the resulting exhibit video.
CHALLENGES TO ACCESS AND CREATION
BARRIERS TO USING MOVING IMAGE COLLECTIONS
- SEARCH: The majority of the collection is not digitized, and we don't provide access to original materials. Patrons must search using paper scripts or story logs with limited description. Once a tape or reel is located, the patron must pay for to reformat all of its content, with no guarantee it contains their desired story.
- ACCESS: Locating material can be difficult, time consuming, and expensive. Large portions of the footage from the 50's and 60's is silent.
- PUBLICATION/RE-USE: Copyright issues and licensing fees limit the user's ability to re-use or publish their work, and traditional publishing outlets do not favor the use of moving images.
BARRIERS FOR STUDENT USE OF MEDIA COLLECTIONS
The collection provides students an opportunity to engage with primary source materials beyond paper manuscript collections and invites them to create a unique durable research project beyond the standard term paper. However, students face additional challenges when working with media collections.
- Research using primary source materials is inherently difficult for a student accustomed to secondary sources, as it flips their research paradigm. Original scholarship often requires them to generate, evaluate, re-engineer their thesis depending on their research results.
- Working with AV material is cost and time-prohibitive, resources most students do no have at their disposal.
- They also face a lack of moving image literacy, ignorance regarding the news production industry, and additional publishing challenges.
PROJECT GOALS AND PROJECT OUTCOME
The 2016 WYSO Archives Digital Humanities Symposium was a catalyst for exploring digital humanities projects using moving image collections. Our goal was to create a digital exhibit that juxtaposed Vietnam-era imagery of the anti-establishment Hollywood film Bonnie and Clyde (shot in North Texas) alongside “Dynamic Denton,” a film produced by the Denton Chamber of Commerce, as well as nightly news from our local NBC affiliate. The exhibit aimed to illustrate the incongruity of the conflicting narratives; how DFW was perceived through an outside lens, its idealized version of itself, and the news-media provided account of local, regional, and world events. Through this process we sought to document the challenges and concerns we encountered and use the final product to generate institutional buy-in for similar projects to facilitate a dialogue about investing in technologies that support digital humanities projects.