The adoption of digital archives in journalism industry says a lot about publishers’ hesitations on the whole process– in terms of financial and human resources. But, if we look at the result and its value, it can not only be compared with the alternative scenario of not digitising past materials; it can also benefit the areas of news business that may yield better results for readers.Extract from Madalina Ciobanu‘s feature on Reuters’s digital archive below shows us why the rewards of digitisation for news organisations demand publishers to move ‘sooner than later’.
Earlier this year, Reuters announced it was partnering with ITN Source to make historical archive footage available online. The project, to be completed in 2016, includes Reuters News clips dating back to 1957 and cinema newsreels from 1910 to 1959.
“We are bringing our archive to the centre,” said Tim Redman, head of archive at Thomson Reuters, “and this is a great opportunity to complete our end to end news service, making text, pictures and video available on the same platform.”
Over 115,000 clips from the vaults have been digitised, bringing the Reuters archive to almost half a million video clips when added to those recorded after digital storage became the standard in 2006.
This includes footage from a 1964 beer drinking championship in London; ‘Snow White’, the only albino gorilla in captivity performing tricks; and a man being set alight to demonstrate a new fire extinguisher, among others.
The digitisation has also revealed previously unknown content, such as a 1963 documentary about newsgathering filmed by cameramen around the world, as well as war footage that film makers can use to give context to events.
“The complexity of the process has more to do with logistics than anything, as you need to be able to retrieve, handle and select the material”, Redman told Journalism.co.uk.
Even if an archive is very well referenced, with tags and metadata all in place, “compiling the right version to digitise is only one of the challenges”, he said.
Another challenge was discovering the way in which the material had been stored and used over decades, but once a methodology was developed last year, it became easier to replicate the approach.
Reuters is mainly processing two types of material. Videotapes are “more straightforward to digitise” and only require establishing which category and year the footage belongs to before uploading to the website. Film rolls are more sensitive and harder to compile, however, as they need to be “opened, processed and electronically digitised”.
According to Redman, Reuters prioritises content by working backwards from the oldest material, but also by looking at anniversary years and catering to public demand. He believes that “in the archive business, it’s hard to know what will be needed” and rather than following a particular trend, such as a certain event, publishers should digitise all their content.
Today’s audience are demanding from publishers a radical overhaul of business processes, around-the-clock availability, global reach and convenient accessibility—this is the world to which customers have become increasingly accustomed. It’s more than just reader experience, however; when you get it right, you can also play it to your advantage because of better operational controls, efficiency savings and less risk.
The Realview Archive solution allows you to convert your collections into useful online digital archives that can be read on any device at anytime. Not only do we help you develop digital archive strategies, but we also ensure you retain the look and feel of your original assets, as well as comply with the original copyright.