Ben WelshUnlike static print newspapers, online news pages constantly change as breaking news happens, which raises questions about how to adequately archive, preserve and capture story packages as they appear on a home page.

  This led Ben Welsh, database producer at the Los Angeles Times, to look for a possible solution.

He created StoryTracker, “a set of open source tools for archiving and analyzing news home pages.” StoryTracker extracts metadata from the website’s HTML code providing insight about the page’s layout and how articles move on a home page. Welsh announced the release of StoryTracker version 1.0 during this week’s Dodging the Memory Hole: Saving Born-digital News Content forum at the Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute.

Welsh’s project began as an effort to capture screenshots of 100 newspaper home pages every hour of every day but he wanted to dig deeper beyond the static screenshot.

“We should be saving these home pages because they carry really important editorial decisions,” says Welsh. “They reflect the hierarchy and the choices made by news gatekeepers and I didn’t think they were getting saved often enough.”

StoryTracker is sponsored by RJI. 

Jennifer Nelson  
Senior Information Specialist


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