Monday, January 30, 2017

Born-digital news preservation in perspective

Born-digital news preservation in perspective. Clifford Lynch. RJI Online. January 26, 2017. [Video and transcript.]
   The challenge with news and academic journals: how do you preserve this body of information. The journal community has working on that in a much more systematic way. There is a shared consensus among all players that preserving the record of scholarly journal publication is essential. Nobody wants their scholarship to be ephemeral so you have to tell people a convincing story about how their work will be preserved.

The primary responsibility for the active archive in most cases is the publisher, but there must be some kind of external fallback system so content will survive the failure of the publisher and the publisher’s archive. These are usually collaborative. Libraries have been the printed news archive, but that is changing. There is also a Keepers Registry so you can see how many keepers are preserving a given journal. The larger journals are well covered, but the smaller ones are really at risk, and a lot of these are small open source journals. "So, we need to be very mindful of those kinds of dynamics as we think about what to do about strategies for really handling the digital news at scale."

With the news, there are a few very large players, and a whole lot of other small news outlets of various kinds. Different strategies are needed for the two groups. We need to be very cautious about news boundaries. "Now in many, many cases, the journalism is built on top of and links to underlying evidence which at least in the short term is readily inspectable by anyone clicking on a link." But the links deteriorate and the material goes away and "preserving that evidence is really important." But it is unclear who is or should be preserving this. There are also questions about the news, the provenance, the motives, the accuracy, and these have to be handled in a more serious way.

"most social media is actually observation and testimony. Very little of it is synthesized news. It’s much more of the character of a set of testimonies or photographs or things like that. And collectively it can serve to give important documentation to an event, but often it is incomplete and otherwise problematic. We need to come to some kind of social consensus about how social media fits into  the cultural record.

We need to devise some systematic approaches to this because the journalistic organizations really need help; "their archives are genuinely at risk" and in many cases the "long term organizational viability is at risk". We need a public consensus. "We need a recognition that responsible journalism implies a lasting public record of that work." The need for free press is recognized consitutionally. "We cannot, under current law, protect most of this material very effectively without the active collaboration of the content producers." This is too big a job for any single organization, and we don't want a single point of failure.


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