The Ford Foundation has contributed $95,000 to the Vanderbilt University Television News Archive, which on Aug. 5 observes its 25th anniversary of service to scholars, journalists and others nationwide.
The grant will be used to develop an electronic database for the Archive's Index and Abstracts, providing summaries of thousands of evening newscasts to millions of persons with access to Internet, the worldwide computer network that connects universities, government agencies and increasing numbers of corporate users, and perhaps to other electronic networks. The Archive-Internet link is expected to be in place in early 1994.
"With the use of a national computer network, the Television News Archive and its Index and Abstracts will, within a few months, become directly accessible to the estimated 10 million Internet subscribers throughout the world," said Vanderbilt Chancellor Joe B. Wyatt. "As a high bandwidth digital network emerges in the non-too-distant future, I expect a network user to search the Index and Abstracts remotely, then electronically select and receive news sequences from the Archive, all within a matter of moments." Established at Vanderbilt in 1968, the Television News Archive possesses the oldest and most extensive collection of U.S. networks' television newscasts and news specials. The Archive's staff abstracts the contents of each broadcast and publishes the abstracts monthly in the Television News Index and Abstracts.
Although the major television networks now keep tapes of their broadcasts, they are primarily for internal use. The Vanderbilt Archive is accessible to the general public, as well as the students and scholars, artists and authors, analysts and members of the media. Acting Director John Lynch said a simple telephone call is all that is needed to initiate the process of borrowing a tape.
Since its beginning in 1968, with the recording of the network news broadcasts during the Democratic National Convention in Chicago, the Archive has grown to a collection of more than 28,000 videotapes of regular newscasts and special broadcasts. To watch the entire collection would require non-stop viewing, 24 hours a day, for more than three years. The Archive includes the national evening news broadcasts of ABC, CBS, NBC and CNN.
The key to the ready access and analysis of the collection is the Television News Index and Abstracts. To date, the Abstracts comprise 47,000 pages of material in printed form and an additional 19,000 pages in a computerized form, according to Jacqueline Shrago, Vanderbilt's director of technology transfer who is coordinating the transfer of the Index to an internationally accessible electronic database.
Last year, Vanderbilt University considered closing the Archive because of mounting debt, which in recent years had surpassed $1.5 million. However, in December 1992 the University granted the Archive a reprieve, which brought staff reductions, some fee increases and a plan to modernize operations.
The Ford Foundation, established in 1936, is a private, nonprofit institution committed to preserving peace and advancing human welfare. A national and international philanthropy with an endowment of more than $6 billion, the Foundation has over the years granted some $7 billion to more than 9,000 institutions and 100,000 individuals worldwide. The Foundation maintains headquarters in New York City and has offices in 16 countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America.
In addition to the Ford Foundation's financial support for the creation of an electronic database for the Index and Abstracts, the Television News Archive earlier received an unrestricted grant of $75,000 from the Justin and Valere Potter Foundation, a long-time supporter of the Archive, and $25,000 from The Freedom Forum, an international charitable foundation dedicated to free press, free speech and free spirit.
To order a tape, call the Vanderbilt Television News Archive at 615/322-2927.
Vanderbilt University is a private research university of about 5,500 undergraduates and 4,000 graduate students. Founded in 1873, the University comprises 10 schools, a public policy institute, a distinguished medical center and The Freedom Forum First Amendment Center. Vanderbilt offers undergraduate programs in liberal arts and sciences, education and human development, engineering and music; and a full range of graduate and professional degrees.