Thursday, March 5, 2009

Whither the archives?

  • The obituaries of the Rocky said that Scripps is selling the name, Web site and archive. Which raises a larger question. With a handful of newspapers already closed and more threatening to close, what is the future of their archives -- which we used to call, interestingly enough, their morgue, and which, for many records before, say, 1990, still exists in those file cabinets that made up the morgue? I can say from experience these archives are some of the most complete records of a city's existence. Most cities have newspaper archives on microfilm, but in most cases they are not indexed. The only index exists in the morgue, because clipping were taken and put in alphabetical order by subject. These morgues also contain the original photos, not just the printed halftones. I would hope that Congress, when it's not passing laws about chimpanzees, would outlaw throwing away this important history at any newspaper, though I fear it may have already happened in some places.
  • By the way, since we're all doomed, I think the newspaper industry needs an elegaic theme. At the risk of sounding maudlin, how about Iris Demint's "Our Town"?

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