This electoral season, Philadelphians have a new public-media tool to analyze media in politics, thanks to an Internet Archive experiment. And if it works well, the project will expand.
In preparation for several competitive congressional races this Fall, Internet Archive is working to record all of the city’s political news stories and campaign ads. Nieman Journalism Lab reports that “a mere 24 hours after broadcast, it will be possible to rewatch TV content online. In addition, the Archive will crawl content from across the web — news blogs, campaign websites and more.”
The result, called the Philadelphia Media Landscape Collection, will be searchable by region, station, date, issue, and sponsor. Its creators hope that the collection will become a valuable tool for “journalists and researchers interested in tracking the media landscape and understanding how political messages — and dollars — move through the system.”
The initiative takes advantage of a number of new opportunities afforded to public media makers by today’s content-rich media environment. Whereas traditional public media tended to follow linear paths from origin to audience, the Philadelphia Media Landscape collection pulls together media from different channels, different sources, and different formats to create a comprehensive body of data that can inform public conversation.
The initiative also celebrates fair use rights, making full use of the seventh principle of the Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Academic and Research Libraries, "creating databases to facilitate non-consumptive research uses." The collection will allow researchers to go beyond the messages of each individual work to indentify patterns in the media.
If the project is successful in Philadelphia, Internet Archive hopes to replicate its approach to tackle other important issues. “We want to move not just to big media markets, but some of the smaller markets — those where there’s a lot of ethnic and cultural diversity,” Internet Archive’s Roger Macdonald said to Nieman Journalism Lab. “Those communities are overlooked in many ways, and we think that bringing our library of resources to bear on their news may help bring some of their issues to the attention of the rest of the nation.”