Transmit Local Memory, History and Identity: Born Digital Content
23 November 2022
UNESCO’s Memory of the World (MoW) Programme celebrated its 30th anniversary from 27 October – 5 November 2022. This programme seeks to ensure that the documentary heritage of the world is preserved, protected, and accessible – for people now and in the future. This ambition is expressed in the UNESCO 2015 Recommendation on the Preservation of, and Access to, Documentary Heritage including in Digital Form (2015 Recommendation) [PDF], which defines documentary heritage as objects which contain analogue or digital information, such as books, manuscripts, archives and audio-visual content.
IFLA’s News Media Section raises the issue of “born digital” content preservation and its projects toward capture of, access to, and preservation of news media in this form.
There’s a saying in journalism, that the news is “the first rough draft of history.”* As such, the news in its many forms–print, online, broadcast– becomes the first fixed work describing the events of the world. For a couple of centuries now, newspapers have been the primary daily record of events that libraries could offer, whether as bound volumes of newspapers, microfilm copies, and more recently, digital scanning technology.
The News Media Section seeks to help inform librarians around the world of the “[b]est practices for capture of, access to, and preservation of news media in all forms,” as stated in our Scope of Interest statement. Newspapers traditionally were formed around a sense of community, whether a town, a city, or distinctive language or ethnic group. Preserving access to news media content is a way we can help to preserve the documentary heritage of those communities.
Many members of the News Media Section have been involved with large-scale newspaper digitization projects over the years to make historical newspaper collections more accessible. But another issue of concern is “born digital” news content, which is the news that was written and posted on newspaper or other news media websites. It is easy to take news content for granted, but as the traditional news media in many countries has been suffering economic stress over the loss of advertising revenue and other business challenges, there is fear that born-digital content will disappear if a newspaper goes bankrupt. Are news media organizations doing what is necessary to make sure their content can outlive them? Or will we lose entire years’ worth of daily news coverage because this was not a priority?
The News Media Section will soon be releasing its Online Resource Center for born-digital content preservation, which will be available on our website very soon. We look forward to future opportunities to collaborate with our IFLA colleagues on any issues involving news preservation, access, and literacy.