Regional Newspapers: Roanoke Times and Virginian Pilot
Through collaboration with Landmark Communications, SCP began providing access to local and regional news reports for the Virginia Tech university community and the Blacksburg Electronic Village (BEV) in 1995. News about the Commonwealth was reported by staff from the Virginian-Pilot and the Roanoke Times. Files available for SCP to download did not include reports from syndicated news agencies nor digitized photographs included in the print editions.
Extending southeast to the Norfolk area and southwest to the Blacksburg area, Virginia News is available online from the Virginian-Pilot beginning in June 1994 and the Roanoke Times since late 1992. The Roanoke Times news online includes a New River Current supplement and was of interest especially to the Blacksburg Electronic Village (BEV).
SCP initially had to overcome problems with tapes for historical issues and access codes to the older computer system in Roanoke. In 1994 unique services provided by the Scholarly Communicaitons Project included pre-dawn automated dial-in and downloading, programmed HTML mark-up, and indexing. New challenges included quality and quantity control because daily news reports, though completely text, grew quickly into very large files. One result was that programmed indexing was relegated to run on the weekends when less network traffic would be effected by slower system response times.
During our three-year collaboration with Landmark Communications, the newspapers never lost their fear that individual households would drop subscriptions if timely, online access became freely available. (Evidence that electronic journals published by the SCP are available without charge to an unlimited Internet audience did not dissuade them.) SCP, therefore, limited access to Virginia Tech and BEV by recognizing only local IP addresses (e.g., @vt.edu and @BEV.net). In 1996 these newspapers began developing their own Web sites, and including some images that were not available to SCP. In 1997 Landmark contracted with commercial Internet providers to develop and maintain their Web sites and subsequently decided to sell all online access to the Roanoke Times and the Virginian Pilot.
SCP ceased news file downloads early in 1997 but continues to provide networked historical news reports about the region and the state from 1994-1997 through VA News. The wealth of knowledge and experience SCP gained by working with these newspapers was applied to additional news resources currently available from a regional television station, WDBJ-7.
Regional Televised News: WDBJ-7
Working with our local CBS-affiliate WDBJ-7, SCP provides timely access to regional televised news from October 1994 to the present and a small number of rekeyed scripts providing access to archival files of news broadcasts extending back to the 1970s. In March 1995 we expanded local news access through timely access to television news reports. Jim Kent, the Roanoke station manager, e-mails daily news scripts. Once on the SCP server, the scripts receive programmed HTML tages for Web display, links to appropriate calendar dates, and periodic indexing for word searching by the university community.
As SCP experiments with providing access to scripts, log books, and video clips, the challenge was storage of the large files and perfecting automated processing, including downloads and markup. Early experiments included links between rekeyed May 1977 news scripts and digital video clips for the six o-clock evening news featuring summer job placement opportunities. In the future, hypertext links to move within this collection of local news will enhance its research value as will links between this television news archive and the newspaper archive. Currently indexing allows integrated searching of the VA-News resource as well as searching within individual titles.