THE BRITISH LIBRARY

The Newsroom blog

News about yesterday's news, and where news may be going

Introduction

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06 May 2015

Five years of Broadcast News

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Five years ago to this day, at 21:55, we threw on the switches for the first official television and radio news recordings for our Broadcast news service. It was, of course, the day of the General Election, and we decided to kick off our service the moment the polls closed - or five minutes beforehand, to be precise, as that it when the all-night news programmes began.

Election2010

BBC1's election night broadcast, 6 May 2010

Things were simpler then. We had only just acquired the system for recording TV and radio programmes off-air, and there were a few teething troubles. So we started cautiously, and recorded just four programmes on that first day - the BBC 1, BBc Radio 4 and ITV election broadcasts, and Channel 4's Alternative Election. the following day we boldly upped the ante to record 15 programmes, adding broadcasts from the channels BBC News, World Service, Al Jazeera English and CNN.

ElectionITV

ITV's election night broadcast, 6 May 2010

Five years on, and things have grown. For 6 May 2015 we will be recording some fifty programmes from twenty-two channels: BBc1, BBC2, ITV, Channel 4, BBC 4, BBC News, BBC Parliament, Al Jazeera English, RT, CNN, Bloomberg, CCTV, Sky News, France 24, talkSport, BBc Radio 5 Live, BBC World Service, LBC, BBcCRadio 1, BBC London, BBC 1 Scotland and STV. We won't know until a day or two later how many programmes we've recorded, because we catch up on some unscheduled programmes after broadcast (such as the many General Election interviews and campaign events currently popping up on BBC Parliament), but it will amount to some 50 hours of TV and radio recorded for that day.

Channel4

Channel 4's Alternative Election, 6 May 2010

Over the five years we have recorded some 45,700 television programmes and 12,100 radio programmes. We record mainly news programmes, though we interpret news quite broadly and include current affairs, interviews, documentaries, live broadcasts and so on. The top 10 most recorded channels are BBc 1 (6,410 programmes), BBC Radio 4 (6,144), ITV1 (5.604), BBC News (4,865), Sky News (3,457), Russia Today/RT (3,153), NHK world (2,995), CCTV [China] (2,918), BBC World Service (2,647) and Al Jazeera English (2,552).

All of the programmes are available on any Library terminal at our St Pancras and Boston Spa sites. For reasons of copyright we cannot make the programmes available online. You can find records of what we have on Broadcast News on the Explore catalogue, but for the most up-to-date records and the fullest service - including word-searchability of programme subtitles - it is best to go to the Broadcast News site, which you can find under the Sound and Moving Image services page on any Library terminal, or just look for http://videoserver.bl.uk (please note, this link only works if you are located at one of our sites and working from a British Library terminal).

And here's to the next five years of news.

 

 

05 May 2015

Microfilms at Boston Spa

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It's great to be able to announce a major step forward in offering equal access to our news collections across both our sites, at St Pancras in London and Boston Spa in Yorkshire. As of today, all British Library newspaper titles held on microfilm will be available to order into the Boston Spa Reading Room. 

Microfilms

Microfilms

When our new Reading Room at Boston Spa opened in September 2014 it offered reader access to all of our print newspaper collection (the vast majority of which is stored at Boston Spa) and all our many digital news services. But the microfilm access copies were stored at St Pancras and there was no mechanism for being able to transport them up to Yorkshire. As approximately one third of our newsppaer collection is held on microfilm, and as we have a firm rule that no access can now be provided to a print newspaper where a microfilm surrogate exists, this meant that we were offering a significantly reduced service for Boston Spa readers.

No more! We can now offer microfilm access at Boston Spa within 48 hours, which is the same period of time as we guarantee access to print newspapers. The only difference now between the two sites is that microfilm access at St Pancras is guaranteed within 70 minutes, and the 15 open access national titles such as The Times and The News of the World  that we provide at St Pancras (i.e. immediately available titles) can't be offered to Boston Spa users (though it's something we're looking into, and for a number of them we provide twin-site access to their digital archives in any case). We have installed two of the digital microfilm viewers at Boston Spa, devices with which regular users of the Newsroom at St Pancras will be familiar.

Microfilmviewer

Microfilm viewer installed at Boston Spa

As said, a third of our collection is available on microfilm, and over 60% of the Reader requests we receive at St Pancras are satisfied via microfilm. Providing access via microfilm greatly helps preserve the precious newspaper originals. Digital access to the collection is growing all the time, of course, with nearly 11 million pages now available via the British Newspaper Archive (access to which is free at either of our sites). But we have over 400 million pages in our newspaper collection, so we have some way to go to match the approximately 130 million newspaper pages we can offer on microfilm.

We want very much to provide comparable access to our news collections at both St Pancras and Boston Spa, even though the Newsroom in London is our dedicated centre for the study of news across all the different media (print, TV, radio, Web). Having the microfilmed newspapers (with the new viewers) now on both sites, with almost equal access for both, is a great step forward. 

22 April 2015

Recording the election

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The UK General Election means that we have been busy with the video recorders. As well as our regular intake on newspapers and the special web archive collection being built up by the British Library and other legal deposit libraries, we have been recording many extra television programmes relating to the General Election for our Broadcast News service. In our multimedia, multiformat, mobile-driven world, television is still the medium which leads the news agenda in the UK and serves as the focal point for debate.

Here's a run-down of what we're recording, all of which is available soon after broadcast on Broadcast News, available in our Reading Rooms at St Pancras and Boston Spa.

Broadcastnews

General news

We record selected television and radio news programmes from 22 channels on a regular basis, and so pick up on all the main news reporting on the election - from BBC1, BBC2, BBC4, ITV1, Channel 4 and Sky News, as well as the somewhat less intense election reporting from Al Jazeera English, CNN, RT, France 24 and others. 

ITVdebate

The ITV Leaders' Debate

Debates

The will-they, won't they arguments over the live debates with party leaders dominated media discussions in the run-up to the formal launch of the General Election period. There was no repeat of the three-way leader debates that so riveted the nation back in 2010, but the compromise solution for 2015 generated variety, much interest and plenty of online debate. We have had Cameron & Miliband: The Battle for No 10 (Channel 4 tx. 26/3/2015), with Jeremy Paxman grilling David Cameron and Ed Miliband and Kay Burley fielding questions from a studio audience; the ITV Leaders' Debate, with Julie Etchingham hosting a memorable seven-way debate between the leaders at their podiums (ITV tx. 2/4/2015); and the BBC Election Debate (BBC1 tx. 16/4/2015), hosted by David Dimbley, featuring the leaders of the five main opposition parties. We have also recorded Scotland Debates (STV tx. 7/4/2015) and the Leaders' Debate - Scotland (BBC1 Scotland tx. 8/4/2015), the Newsbeat Debates on TV and Radio 1, the Daily Politics Debates, and several others.

Thisweek

The ubiqitious Andrew Neil

Discussions and commentaries

Accompanying the news, we of course have the discussion programmes. Analysing it all have been the Daily Politics, Sunday Politics and This Week (all hosted by Andrew Neil), Election Tonight, Question Time, the Andrew Marr Show, The Agenda, Murnaghan, Newsnight, and even the Election Late Show

Interviews

The number of interviews with the party leaders seems prodigious. ITV has had its Spotlight interview series with Tom Bradbury, BBC1 had has the Leader Interviews with Evan Davies, there have been the Newsbeat Interviews on BBC TV and radio, numerous interviews on general news and current affairs programmes, and ad hoc pieces to camera being picked up by BBC Parliament.

BBC Parliament

The BBC Parliament channel has thrown open its schedules to capture many of the interviews, reactions, manifesto launches and campaign events of which we only see highlights in the main news programmes. So, for example, the manifesto launches include those of the Conservatives, Labour and Liberal Democrats, Scottish National Party, Ulster Unionist Party, Alliance Party, SDLP, Green Party, UKIP, Democratic Unionist Party and the Christian People's Alliance, as well as the Scottish and Welsh branches of Conservatives, Labour, Liberal Democrats, Greens and UKIP, and assorted youth manifestos.

Green

The Green Party's 'boy band' election broadcast

Election broadcasts

Party election broadcasts are a television staple, and for this election it is noticeable how stylishly made most of the broadcasts are, aiming as they are to attract not just television viewers but an online audience intent or liking or disliking the same videos on YouTube. So far we have broadcasts from the Conservative Party, Green Party, Labour Party, Liberal Democrats, Plaid Cymru, Scottish National Party, the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition, and UKIP.

All party election broadcasts shown on the BBC are currently available via iPlayer.

Newzoids

Nicola Sturgeon and Alex Salmond on Newzoids

Satire

We are also recording the many news satire programmes that are popping up: Have I Got News For You, ITV's new puppet show Newzoids, Channel 4's The Last Leg, which has a special focus on the election, and programmes created for the election period itself: Jack Dee's Election Help Desk and Charlie Brooker's Election Wipe on BBC2, Ballot Monkeys on Channel 4 with its up-to-the-minute gags, and the planned post- election programmes including Election Autopsy (with Frankie Boyle) and Rory Bremner's Election Report.

We will be producing a special collection page for the election recordings on Broadcast News, once the election is over.