Today the Internet Archive’s TV News Archive unveils growing TV news collections focused on congressional leadership and top Trump administration officials, expanding our experimental Trump Archive to other newsworthy government officials. Together, all of the collections include links to more than 1,200 fact-checked clips–and counting–by our national fact-checking partners, FactCheck.org, PolitiFact, and The Washington Post‘s Fact Checker.
These experimental video clip collections, which contain more than 3,500 hours of video, include archives focused on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R., Ky.; Sen. Minority Leader Charles (“Chuck”) Schumer, D., N.Y.; House Speaker Paul Ryan, R., Wis.; and House Minority Leader, Nancy Pelosi, D., Calif., as well as top Trump officials past and present such as Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and former White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer.
Visit the U.S. Congress archive.
Visit the Executive Branch archive.
Visit the Trump Archive.
We created these largely hand-curated collections as part of our experimentation in demonstrating how Artificial Intelligence (AI) algorithms could be harnessed to create useful, ethical, public resources for journalists and researchers in the months and years ahead. Other experiments include:
- the Political TV Ad Archive, which tracked airings of political ads in the 2016 elections by using the Duplitron, an open source audio fingerprinting tool;
- the Trump Archive, launched in January;
- Face-O-Matic, an experimental Slack app created in partnership with Matroid that uses facial detection to find congressional leaders’ faces on TV news. Face-O-Matic has quickly proved its mettle by helping our researchers find clips suitable for inclusion in the U.S. Congress Archive; future plans include making data available in CSV and JSON formats.
- in the works: TV Architect Tracey Jaquith is experimenting with detection of text in the chyrons that run on the bottom third of cable TV news channels. Stay tuned.
At present, our vast collection of TV news –1.4 million shows collected since 2009–is searchable via closed-captioning. But closed captions, while helpful, can’t help a user find clips of a particular person speaking; instead, when searching a name such as “Charles Schumer” it returns a mix of news stories about the congressman, as well as clips where he speaks at news conferences, on the Senate floor, or in other venues.
We are working towards a future in which AI enrichment of video metadata will more precisely identify for fact-checkers and researchers when a public official is actually speaking, or some other televised record of that official making an assertion of fact. This could include, for example, camera footage of tweets.
Such clips become a part of the historical record, with online links that don’t rot, a central part of the Internet Archive’s mission to preserve knowledge. And they can help fact-checkers decide where to concentrate their efforts, by finding on-the-record assertions of fact by public officials. Finally, these collections could prove useful for teachers, documentary makers, or anybody interested in exploring on-the-record statements by public officials.
For example, here are two dueling views of the minimum wage, brought to the public by McConnell and Schumer.
In this interview on Fox News in January 2014, McConnell says, “The minimum wage is mostly an entry-level wage for young people.” PolitiFact’s Steve Contorno rated this claim as “mostly true.” While government statistics do show that half of the people making the minimum wage are young, 20 percent are in their late 20s or early 30s and another 30 percent are 35 or older. Contorno also points out that it’s a stretch to call these jobs “entry-level,” but rather are “in the food or retail businesses or similar industries with little hope for career advancement.”
Schumer presents a different assertion on the minimum wage, saying on “Morning Joe” in May 2014 that with a rate of $10.10/hour “you get out of poverty.” PolitiFact’s Louis Jacobson rated this claim as “half true”: “Since the households helped by the $10.10 wage account for 46 percent of all impoverished households, Schumer is right slightly less than half the time.”
These new collections reflect the hard work of many at the Internet Archive, including Robin Chin, Katie Dahl, Tracey Jaquith, Roger MacDonald, Dan Schultz, and Nancy Watzman.
As we move forward, we would love to hear from you. Contact us with questions, ideas, and concerns at firstname.lastname@example.org. And to keep up-to-date with our experiments, sign up for our weekly TV News Archive newsletter.