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Quickly search for and watch any sentence spoken on American TV news since 2009. It’s the latest offering from The Internet Archive, and it simply needs to be seen in order to be believed.
CNN, Fox New,s and MSNBC’s broadcast schedule in its entirety is backed up here, as is every major network’s nightly news programs and news magazines. Even The Daily Show and The Colbert Report are completely searchable on this single site – just type a term and if it shows up in the closed captioning records, you’ll see a video, instantly.
A total of 350,000 news programs are here, from the national news networks as well as local stations in San Francisco and Washington D.C., according to the services’ About page. New material is added a mere 24 hours after broadcast, meaning the entirety of at least two recent debates is already online and searchable.
There are some limitations: you can only watch clips in 30 second intervals, and there’s no built-in way to download them. But the intention is clear: allow anyone to find any soundbite, anytime. It’s particularly helpful in the lead up to the US elections next month.
“The focus is to help the American voter to better be able to examine candidates and issues,” said Brewster Kahle, founder of the Internet Archive, in and interview with the New York Times. “If you want to know exactly what Mitt Romney said about health care in 2009, you’ll be able to find it.”
Using the TV News Archive
To get started simple head to the Internet Archive’s TV News page. You’ll immediately be presented with a search box, which allows you to search the closed captioning text of most major TV news broadcasts since 2009.
You could use this to search for serious videos related to the issues of the day, finding perspectives from the past four years public figures have since changed their minds about. Or you could search for pandas.
I searched for pandas, in an effort to remain politically neutral (and adorable).
Do your search and you’ll instantly see videos including the terms. Click any video to instantly watch it. At the top of the screen you’ll see a graph, pointing out how frequently the term was mentioned in broadcasts by day:
Looking for a specific clip? The advanced search page lets you narrow the search down to a particular show, network or station. You can even add additional search terms.
If something happened on TV news in the past few years you’ll find it.
Now for the bad news: there’s no embedding, at least not now. You can get a direct link to any 30-second segment you like, though.
You can also borrow a DVD with the clip in question from the archive; doing so means paying a few and returning the disc within 30 days. No licensing rights are given by borrowing.
I’d love to see links to other sites offering particular broadcasts, especially if the original broadcaster offers them freely. Maybe this feature is coming later, but even if it’s not it’s hard to complain about a service that makes TV news searchable.
The possibilites with this service are endless. Whether you want to find a soundbite to take out of context so you can make a clip of Obama begging HomeStarRunner to come back or research the various contradicting positions most political candidates take during the course of a campaign, this searchable archive of TV is available to you. And that’s amazing.
What clips did you find with this tool? Share your links below, along with any ideas you might have for using this information.
This is by no means the only service offered at Archive.org. They also offer over one million legal torrents and the Wayback machine, which lets you see how websites looked in the past.