Visual Explorer: Unlocking 9.5 Million Broadcasts & 6.6 Million Hours Of Television News

Almost exactly a decade since the public unveiling of the Internet Archive's Television News Archive, the launch of the new TV Visual Explorer makes it possible for the first time to "skim" television news, taking the first steps towards unlocking the unimaginably rich and unique archive of global society preserved within the Archive's 9.5 million broadcasts spanning 6.6 million hours of television news from across the world. 

Earlier today the Archive published this summary of the Archive's history and the way in which the TV Visual Explorer will help transform access to this incredible collection.

9.5 million broadcasts.
6.6 million hours of television.

The Television News Archive, launched September 2012, is an archive of hundreds of thousands of hours of news programming from 20 different networks, made sharable and searchable through closed captioning data — a permanent record of what's otherwise being forgotten as soon as it leaves the airwaves. Roger Macdonald, founder of the TV News Archive and Internet Archive fellow, calls it “a knowledge base, an encyclopedia.” It’s also a hidden gem, with only 20,000 or so unique visitors a day.

TV has always been a persuasive and pervasive medium. It is potent, at times disruptive, with no easy way to pause, review and consider, ‘Is this true?’

Couple this with the fact that even the networks themselves don’t offer comprehensive public access to their broadcast libraries, meaning there is no place, other than the Internet Archive’s TV News Archive, to easily review, compare, contrast and cite these critical records of our times.

The TV News Archive has recently rolled out a new visual tool for understanding television news in a way that's native to the medium. The Television News Visual Explorer is a tool developed by the GDELT Project, the Internet Archive's Television News Archive, and the Media-Data Research Consortium. The thumbnails are taken once every four seconds from news broadcasts, so a researcher can scroll through hours of TV in just seconds. Right now, this tool displays several English-language news networks, as well as several Russian, Ukrainian, and Belarusian news programs.

The biggest users of the TV News Archive are journalists, documentary filmmakers, and researchers, who often analyze trends across months or years of a particular program, tracing bias in TV coveragedebunking misinformation, or how narratives change over time.

The TV News Archive is also host to special collections, including Understanding 9/11: A Television News ArchivePolitical Ads, and Fact Checked.