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Searching For TV News Online

tvnews-logo Most news organizations provide video content on their sites, and aggregators like Google News also offer video clips for some stories. But there are also some excellent search tools that focus exclusively on broadcast television news, and they can often take you to “all the news that’s fit to watch” more quickly and efficiently than browsing the Web.

Today, a look at “TV News Search and Borrow” (TV News), one of the many services the Internet Archive makes available, such as the incredible Web history archive, The Wayback Machine.

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“TV News Search and Borrow” allows you to keyword search and then view online and for free, clips from TV news programs from a variety of U.S. sources. You can view 30 second clips (one at a time) or “borrow” complete programs for a fee direct from the Internet Archive.

While other services are available to search and view TV news, TV News from the Internet Archive is completely free and contains a material back to 2009. I’ll be writing more about some of those other services in a later post.

News Sources

TV News contains material from a number of networks including ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC, CNBC, Comedy Central, C-SPAN, CNN, MSNBC, and others. Many of the terrestrial network material is recorded from local affiliates in Baltimore, San Francisco, and Washington D.C. So, for a few markets, TV News also provides access to local television coverage.

TV News contains material from more than 408,000 broadcasts. That’s up 50,000 programs that the service has archived and indexed since TV News first launched last September.

To search, enter keywords, just as you would on any other search engine. TV News runs the search against its index of the closed-captioning that each broadcast makes available. Closed-captioning is far from perfect so be prepared to repeat searches with a variety of different keywords to make sure you find what you need.

You can search the entire database by keyword and narrow to a specific network and/or program and date or date range.

Popular terms from each clip are also provided and are clickable.

Search Results

I have found that searching for a phrase can sometimes be troublesome. In some cases using quotation marks to surround a phrase works well, but in other cases results were poor. So, once again, be adaptable.

Let’s break down this results page for the phrase “Search Engine Optimization”

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At the top you’ll spot “sparklines” that allow you to see the number of hits by date. You can move the sliders and create a date range to search interactively.

Directly below, in the search box, you’ll spot options to sort results by date or relevance, as well as to focus your search by selecting “more search options,” including limiting to a specific network or program or by date.

Screenshot at Feb 06 16-34-35

Click on any program “WMAR – ABC2 News at 530PM,” for example, to view/listen to the words spoken and see the closed captioning. You’ll be able to view 30 seconds at a time. To view more 30 second clips from the program or news segment, click the more/borrow button.

Now, you’ll see a page devoted to the specific program together with all of the clips (in 30 second increments) from the show.

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Scroll to see a screen shot and link for each 30-second clip along with extracted terms from the clip.

You can also click the “search this broadcast link” and quickly limit your keyword search to the specific program.

Placing your cursor over any screen cap will provide you with the time the clip was recorded.

So, to watch a 3-minute report you’re going to need to click and wait for six videos to load.  For a 30-minute show, you’ll need to click on 60 clips.

Another option to view the entire program is to click the borrow link and borrow the show from the Internet Archive.  A 30-day loan for a 30-minute show costs $25 and is delivered to you by mail on a DVD.

A Keyword Search Option

You might also want to try using a Google site search of TV News to search for clips. To do this, simply add site:archive.org/details/TV to your keyword query. Here’s an example to find mentions of both Larry Page AND “Sergey Brin” in TV news reports. You can also try using inurl:yyyymm to limit your search to a specific month. Here’s an example.

Final Thoughts

TV News from the Internet Archive might not be the easiest resource to use due to all of the clicking you need to do, but its limitations are outweighed by its many benefits. Most notably, it’s one of the few online search tools that can do what it does — and it’s free.

In my next post, I will introduce you to a few other sources for news and public affairs programming, namely the award winning C-SPAN Video Library database along with a couple of tools that can help make TV News easier to use.

Related Topics: Features: General | Internet Archive | Search Engines: News Search Engines | Search Engines: Video Search Engines


About The Author: is a librarian, author, and an online information analyst based in suburban Washington, DC. He is the co-founder and co-editor of INFOdocket and FullTextReports.com and prior to that was founder/editor of ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. He has worked for Blekko, Ask.com, and at Search Engine Watch where he was news editor. In 2001, Price was the co-author (with Chris Sherman) of the best-selling book The Invisible Web.

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