Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Culling the Archive part 2- Dear Mr Scott.

Dear Mr Scott,
REGARDING ABC ONLINE NEWS ARCHIVE-10000s of stories culled...why?

I made an enquiry regarding the manner in which ABC manages its online news archive a little while ago to your senior staff including Alan Sunderland, Bruce Belsham and Angela Clark (see HERE). None of these staff members has been at all helpful in providing any information about the manner in which stories are posted to the archive, or about recent changes that have resulted in the apparent removal of 10,000s reports from the archive since 2003.
I have been using the Online News Archive as a measure of ABC news productivity. Since 2007 there has been a marked decline in the number of stories posted the archive (see HERE and HERE). 

I am trying to establish if this is a result of a policy decision related to managing the archive, or a true reflection of declining news coverage. Perhaps reflecting a fall in the number of regional stories being covered by the ABC at the expense of opinon pieces?

As I mentioned to your staff above, ABC's NEWS archive represents an important, growing source of historical news information, and as such some explanation as to why the number of posts to it have been falling is deserving of some explanation. If this is a matter of policy, then perhaps it can be corrected so that all the news makes it into the archive, and not a "cherry picked" sub-sample. ABC's growing archive will no doubt be important in helping future historians unpick past events, the more complete it is the better it will be.

I note that this year ABC is consistently posting 250 stories for Tuesday-Friday (ed actually its the whole week M-F), including numerous opinion pieces not previously included. Is the inclusion of opinion an attempt to cover for falling coverage of news stories? 

Of greater concern I also note that the remainder of the archive, since 2003, appears to have been retrospectively culled of reports such that the total number of stories posted each week day has also been reduced to 250. This has involved removal of 10000s of reports and seems to represent a deliberate destruction of the value of the archive for historical research purposes.

I have collected records of the number of stories posted to the archive for each day in the month of June from 2003 to present as part of the productivity report. The numbers can be confirmed through the online internet archive (see HERE). I have not had the opportunity to go back through each year. For June 2003 the effect is dramatic with over 590 stories removed. For June 2004 it seems there are 171 less now compared to 2010 when we first used the archive to report on ABC's productivity. For the year of 2008 when we originally counted a record 8894 stories for June, ABC's archive now contains 6618 stories. It seems that for just one month ABC have culled 2276 reports from history! And this just for the month of June, extended over the whole archive it means 10,000s of stories have been evaporated, akin to literally cutting the stories from the pages of an archived newspaper

Specific questions:
1. What is ABC's policy, if any, regarding its Online News Archive?
2. Do the falling number of items since 2007 reflect a fall in news productivity, or are they the consequence of a change in records policy?
3. On what grounds does ABC decide to include news items in its archive?
4. Why did ABC cull its news archive to remove easy accessibility to 10000s of stories? Which stories? Why? How-what criteria were used for the cull?
5. Can we expect to see the full archive restored? When?

The lack of a satisfactory timely response and deliberate refusal to cooperate with seemingly legitimate requests on this matter is of some concern hence I have cc'd this email to Senator Conroy, Malcolm Turnbull, Senator Fierravanti-Wells, along with a representative from the mainstream press to draw attention to the issue. 

Marc Hendrickx

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please keep to the topic. Abusive comments and bad language are simply not tolerated. Note that your comment may take a little while to appear.

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.