Journalism Digital News Archive

“We should have had a historian running around saying ‘I don’t care if you are ever going to use them — we are going to keep them.’”
— Richard Nafzger, engineer, after the Aug. 5, 2006, announcement that NASA had lost the original and backup videotapes of the Apollo 11 moon walk

 

 

Go to the JDNA section

The Journalism Digital News Archive (JDNA) initiative’s mission is to preserve news content originally produced in digital formats. Over the past four decades the transition from analog to digital systems in news media has transformed the way journalistic content is produced and accessed. Like other creators of “born-digital” content, news media have employed a series of evolving file formats and technical infrastructures, many of which are now — or may soon be — obsolete.

All born-digital content has proven to be fragile: susceptible to bit rot, media failures and human-caused and natural disasters. Unlike content digitized from analog media, born-digital often has no physical surrogate to serve as a fallback. At a time when the traditional stewards of news archives, both public and private, have been diminished or eliminated, the ephemeral nature of born-digital news content demands active and technically sophisticated measures to ensure its long-term existence.

Do you see news archives as invaluable sources for quality journalism and cultural heritage? Are you concerned about the loss of digital news content from the past 40 years? If so, the upcoming “Dodging the Memory Hole: Saving Online News” forum wants you to join a select group that will help decide what tomorrow will bring for yesterday’s news.

In response to these challenges, the Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute and University of Missouri Libraries saw the need to preserve and maintain the legacy of born-digital news media and established the world’s first digital curator of journalism position. This position laid the groundwork for forming JDNA, with the goal of creating and supporting sustainable systems for preserving born-digital news content. By exploring best practices to archive and access content and resources, including text, photos, video and interactive news apps, JDNA seeks novel approaches for developing scalable digital news preservation enviroments.

Former Washington Post Publisher Phil Graham famously called journalism “a first rough draft of history.” Assuming this to be true, historians and future generations may well view the past 40 years as a “digital dark age.” Even as the amount of digital news content continues to grow, much of that data is currently stored in ways that fail to adequately ensure its long-term — or even short term — survival. The Journalism Digital News Archive initiative is an essential reaction to this looming crisis of at-risk news archives in electronic forms.