“And the Webby Award for Lifetime Achievement Goes to….”

“The Internet Archive…is building a home for Universal Access to All Knowledge, open to everyone, everywhere, to use as they like. Open to all societies of the future that care to build on our triumphs and learn from our mistakes.”

                                                                  – Lawrence Lessig

Last night in New York City, we put on our best duds and donned our fanciest archivist hats for a once in a lifetime event. The Internet Archive was honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award at the 21st annual Webbys, hailed by the New York Times as “one of the Internet’s highest honors.” The Webby Awards lauded the Internet Archive for being “the web’s most knowledgeable historian.”

Three of our veteran staff members, Tracey Jaquith, TV Archive Architect, Internet Archive founder and Digital Librarian, Brewster Kahle, and Alexis Rossi, Director of Media and Access, accepted the award. Kahle delivered the five-word acceptance speech with panache:  “Universal Access to All Knowledge.”

Perhaps the greatest honor of the evening came in the form of a video narrated by Open Knowledge champion, Lawrence Lessig.  He said, “Creativity and innovation built on the past.  The Internet Archive is the foundation preserving that past, so that perhaps, one can at least hope that our children and their children can shape a future that knows our joys and learns from our many mistakes.”

The award was presented by Nancy Lublin, CEO of the Crisis Text Line and DoSomething.org, who pointed out that in this chaotic political year, the Internet Archive has saved “200 terabytes of government data that could have otherwise been lost in the transition from blue light saber to red light saber.”

The award reads:

Webby Lifetime Achievement: Archive.org for its commitment to making the world’s knowledge available online and preserving the history of the Internet itself. With a vast collection of digitized materials and tools like the Wayback Machine, Archive.org has become a vital resource not only to catalogue an ever-changing medium, but to safeguard a free and open Internet for everyone.

The complete list of Webby Award winners is available here.

Posted in Announcements, News | 15 Comments

TV news fact-checked: Comey edition

We devote this week’s edition of the TV News Archive roundup to the controversy that’s erupted surrounding President Donald Trump’s sudden announcement on Tuesday, May 9, that he was firing FBI director James Comey. The TV News Archive provides a wealth of material for exploring media coverage of this major moment in U.S. history.

Comey fame tied to Clinton and Trump

Comey may still not quite be a household name, but mention of “Comey” spiked higher than ever on TV newscasts this week after he was fired. Comey has enjoyed notoriety in the past, his biggest moments tied closely to the fates of 2016 presidential rivals Hillary Clinton and Trump.

The most recent spike before this week was on March 20, when he testified before Congress, confirming that the FBI was investigating possible ties between the Trump campaign and Russia. Another major spike occurred in November 2016, days before the election, when Comey announced the FBI was reopening an investigation into then-Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server for official business while serving as secretary of state. Comey also garnered attention in July 2016, when he announced that the FBI would not be pursuing charges against Clinton.

The visual below, showing mentions of “Comey,” was created with Television Explorer, an online tool fueled by TV News Archive data and created by Kalev Leetaru. This tool can be used to find patterns in words and phrases captured by closed captioning and contained in the TV News Archive.

Source: Television Explorer, Kalev Leetaru

Trump’s letter to Comey fact-checked

In the hours following the firing, one major point of focus for fact-checkers and other media was the portion of the letter to Comey where Trump stated, “While I greatly appreciate you informing me, on three separate occasions, that I am not under investigation, I nevertheless concur with the judgment of the Department of Justice that you are not able to effectively lead the Bureau.”

Below is a CNN broadcast, as captured in the TV News Archive, where the CNN newscaster Dave Briggs reads the letter on the air.

PolitiFact, The Washington Post‘s Fact Checker, and FactCheck.org have all weighed in on the president’s assertion, noting that too much remains unknown to confirm it. “With Comey out, it’s unclear whether the public will ever learn if the FBI was investigating Trump personally, rather than just his associates — or anything else about the investigation, for that matter,” wrote PolitiFact’s Lauren Carroll on May 11. (See fact-checks connected to televised statements by public officials here.)

Meanwhile, the story continues to unfold. On May 11, Sarah Huckabee, deputy White House press secretary, told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos that the president had confirmed this assertion with her directly. And Trump himself told NBC News’ Lester Holt that the assurances came during a private dinner and twice over the phone. And on Friday morning, Trump tweeted that Comey “better hope there are no ‘tapes’ of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!”

Some Watergate history, please

Many commentators this week have noted parallels between Trump’s firing of Comey and the Saturday Night Massacre of 1973, when President Richard Nixon ordered independent special prosecutor Archibald Cox fired, during the Watergate investigation; his boss, Attorney General Elliot Richardson, and Deputy General William Ruckelshaus, both of whom refused to fire Cox, resigned in protest. Acting head of the Department of Justice, Robert Bork, carried out the order to fire Cox. (Note: the Richard Nixon Library playfully, but accurately, fired off a tweet noting that Nixon had never fired an FBI director, and then later was criticized for doing so by the National Archives and Records Administration, the federal agency that administers presidential libraries.)

While the TV News Archive’s collection of 1.3 million TV news shows dates back to 2009, long after the Nixon era, some footage from that time is available from later airings. Here, for example, is footage of Cox’s press conference right before he was dismissed.

And here is a quick explainer of the Saturday Night Massacre, as broadcast by MSNBC in 2013.

Searching Trump Archive for past Trump statements about Comey

The largely hand-curated Trump Archive, a collection of Trump statements and appearances on TV news broadcasts, makes it easier to find past instances of Trump talking about Comey. The TV News Archive is working on ways to make the creation of such collections less labor intensive, by using machine learning tools to identify instances of public officials speaking within the collection of 1.3 million tv news shows.

A search of closed captions on the terms “Trump” and “Comey” would yield both instances when Trump is speaking about Comey and newscasters who are reporting on the two men. But searching within the Trump Archive quickly yields Trump statements about Comey.

Here is some of what we found:

April 28, 2016: Trump says “I think if [Comey’s]  straight up she’s not going to be able to run.”

 

June 13, 2016: Trump talking about FBI investigation of Orlando nightclub shooting, “I’m a big fan of the FBI, there’s no bigger fan than me, but look they’ve seen better days. Let’s face it.”

October 13, 2016:  Trump speaking about Comey, “The great men and women who work for the FBI are embarrassed and ashamed of what he has done to one of our truly great institutions, the FBI itself.”

October 20, 2016: Trump at Al Smith Dinner, joking at an annual fundraiser for Catholic charities:  “I’d like to address an important religious matter, the issue of going to confession. Or, as Hillary calls it, the Fourth of July weekend with FBI director Comey.”

October 29, 2016: Following Director Comey’s letter to congressional leaders about newly discovered Clinton emails, Trump says, “I have to tell you, I respect the fact that Director Comey was able to come back after what he did. I respect that very much.”

November 14, 2016: Trump won’t say if he will ask Comey to resign.  “I think that I would rather not comment on that yet. I don’t– I haven’t made up my mind. I respect him a lot. I respect the FBI a lot.”

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Listening to the 78rpm Disc Collection


By Jessica Thompson, Coast Mastering

The Great 78 Project
A few times a year, I join B. George in the Internet Archives’ warehouses to help sort and pack 78rpm discs to ship to George Blood L.P. for digitization. As a music fan and a professional mastering and restoration engineer, I get a thrill from handling the heavy, grooved discs, admiring the fonts and graphic designs on the labels, and chuckling at amusing song titles. Now digitized, these recordings offer a wealth of musicological, discographic and technical information, documenting and contextualizing music and recording history in the first half of the 20th century.

The sheer scale of this digitization project is unprecedented. At over 15,000 recordings and counting, the value strictly in terms of preservation is clear, especially given the Internet Archive’s focus on digitizing music less commonly available to researchers. Music fans can take a deep dive into early blues, Hawaiian, hillbilly, comedy and bluegrass. I even found several early Novachord synthesizer recordings from 1941.

As a researcher and audio restoration engineer, the real goldmine is in the aggregation of discographic and technical metadata accompanying these recordings. Historians can search for and cross reference recordings based on label, artist, song title, year of release, personnel, genre, and, importantly, collection. (The Internet Archive documents the provenance of the 78rpm discs so that donated collections remain digitally intact and maintain their contextual significance.) General users can submit reviews with notes to amend or add to metadata, and the content of those reviews is searchable, so metadata collection is active. No doubt it will continue to improve as dedicated and educated users fill in the blanks.

Access to the technical metadata offers a valuable teaching tool to those of us who practice audio preservation. For audio professionals new to 78s and curious about how much difference a few tenths of a millimeter of stylus can make, the Internet Archive offers 15,000+ examples of this. Play through the different styli options, and it quickly becomes apparent that particular labels, years and even discs do respond better to specific styli sizes and shapes. This is something audio preservationists are taught, but rarely are we presented with comprehensive audio examples. To be able to listen to and analyze the sonic and technical differences in these versions marries the hard science with the aesthetic.

Playback speeds were not standardized until the late 1920s or early 1930s, and most discs were originally cut at speeds ranging from 76-80rpm (and some well beyond). The discs in the George Blood Collection were all digitized at a playback speed of 78rpm. Preservationists and collectors debate extensively about the “correct” speed at which discs ought to be played back, and whether one ought to pitch discs individually. However, performance, recording and manufacturing practices varied so widely that even if a base speed could generally be agreed upon, there will always be exceptions. (For more on this, please check out George Blood’s forthcoming paper Stylus Size And Speed Selection In Pre-1923 Acoustic Recordings in Sustainable audiovisual collections through collaboration: Proceedings of the 2016 Joint Technical Symposium. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press.)

Every step of making a recording involves so many aesthetic decisions – choices of instrumentation, methods of sound amplification, microphone placement, the materials used in the disc itself, deliberate pitching of the instruments and slowing or speeding of the recording – that playback speed simply become one of many aesthetic choices in the chain. As preservationists, we are preserving the disc as an historic record, not attempting to restore or recreate a performance. (Furthermore, speed correction is possible in the digital realm, should anyone want to modify these digital files for their own personal enjoyment).

How do they sound? Each 78rpm disc has an inherent noise fingerprint based on the frequency and dynamic range the format can replicate (limited, compared to contemporary digital playback formats) and the addition of surface noise from dust, dirt and stylus wear in the grooves. As expected, the sound quality in this collection varies. Some of these discs were professionally recorded, minimally played, stored well, and play back with a tolerable, even ignorable level of surface noise relative to the musical content. Others were recorded under less professional circumstances, and/or were much loved, frequently played, stored without sleeves in basements and attics, and therefore suffer from significant surface noise that can interfere with enjoyment (and study) of the music.

Yet, a compelling recording can cut through noise. Take this 1944 recording of Josh White performing St. James Infirmary, Asch 358-2A. This side has been released commercially several times, so if you look it up on a streaming service like Spotify, you can listen to different versions sourced from the same recording (though almost certainly not from the same 78rpm disc). They play at different speeds, some barely perceptibly faster or slower but at least one nearly a half-step faster than the preservation copy digitized by George Blood L.P. They also have a range of noise reduction and remastering aesthetics, some subtle and some downright ugly and riddled with digital artifacts. The version on the Internet Archive offers a benchmark. This is what the recording sounded like on the original 78rpm disc. Listen to the bend in the opening guitar notes. That technique cuts through the surface noise and should be preserved and highlighted in any restored version (which is another way of saying that any noise reduction should absolutely not interfere with the attack and decay of those luscious guitar notes).

McGill University professor of Culture and Technology Jonathan Sterne wrote a book – The Audible Past: Cultural Origins of Sound Reproductionthat is worth reading for anyone interested in a cultural history of early recording formats, including 78s. As Sterne says, sound fidelity is “ultimately about deciding the values of competing and contending sounds.” So, in listening to digital versions of 78s on the Internet Archive, music fans, researchers, and audio professionals alike engage in a process of renegotiating concepts of acceptable thresholds of noise and what that noise communicates about the circumstances of the recording and its life on a physical disc.

Fortunately, our brains are very good at calibrating to accept different ratios of signal to noise, and, I found, the more I listened to 78rpm recordings on the Internet Archive, the less I was bothered by the inherent noise. Those of us who grew up on CDs or digitally recorded and distributed music are not used to the intrusions of surface noise. However, when listening to historic recordings, we are able to adjust our expectations and process a level of noise that would be ridiculous in contemporary music formats. (Imagine this week’s Billboard Top 100 chart topper, Bruno Mars’s “That’s What I Like,” with the high and low end rolled off, covered in a sheen of crackles and pops). The fact that these 78rpm recordings sound, to us, like they were made in the 1920s, 1930s, 1940s lets them get away with a different scale of fidelity. The very nature of their historicity gets them off the hook.

In analog form, crackles and pops can be mesmerizing, almost like the sound of a crackling fire. However, once digitized, those previously random pops become fixed in time. What may have been enjoyable in analog form becomes a permanent annoyance in digital form. The threshold of acceptable noise levels moves again.

This means that noise associated with recording carriers such as 78rpm discs is almost always preferably to noises introduced in the digital realm through the process of attempted noise reduction. Sound restorationists understand that their job is to follow a sonic Hippocratic oath: do no harm. Though noise reduction tools are widely available, they range in quality (and accordingly in cost), and are merely tools to be used with a light or heavy touch, by experienced or amateur restorationists.

The question of whether noise reduction of the Internet Archive’s 78rpm recordings could be partially automated makes my heart palpitate. Though I know from experience that, for example, auto-declickers exist that could theoretically remove a layer of noise from these recordings with minimal interference with the musical signal, I don’t believe the results would be uniformly satisfactory. It is so easy to destroy the aura of a recording with overzealous, heavy-handed, cheap, or simply unnecessary noise reduction. Even a gentle touch of an auto-declicker or de-crackler will have widely varying results on different recordings.

I tried this with a sampling of selections from the /georgeblood/ collection. I chose eleven songs from different genres and years and ran two different, high quality auto-declickers (the iZotope RX6 Advanced multiband declicker and CEDAR Audio’s declick) on the 24bit FLAC files. The results were uneven. Some of the objectively noisier songs, such as Blind Blake’s Tampa Bound, Paramount 12442-B, benefited from having the most egregious surface noises gently scrubbed.

Tampa Bound Flat Transfer vs Tampa Bound Declicked, Dehissed and Denoised
that’s a lot of noise!

However, a song with a strong musical presence and mild surface noise such as Trio Schmeed’s Yodel Cha Cha, ABC-Paramount 9660, actually suffered more from light auto-declicking because the content of the horns and percussive elements registered to the auto-delicker as aberrations from the meat of the signal and were dulled. A pop presents as an aberration across all frequencies. Mapped visually across frequency, time and intensity, it looks like a spike cutting through the waveform. A snare hit looks similar and is therefore likely to be misinterpreted by an auto-declicker unless the threshold at which the declicker deploys is set very carefully. This difference is why good restorationists earn their pay.

Yodel Cha Cha flat transfer and denoised. Notice the “clicks and pops” have been scrubbed,
but so has wanted high end content in the music.

 I am approaching this collection as a listener and music fan, as a researcher, and as an audio professional, three very different modes of listening and interacting with music. In all cases, the Internet Archive 78rpm collection offers massive amounts of music and data to be explored, discovered, enjoyed, studied and utilized. Whether you want to listen to early Bill Monroe tunes, crackles, pops and all, or explore hundreds of recordings of pre-war polkas, or analyze the effects of stylus size on 1930s Victor discs, the Internet Archive provides the raw materials in digital form and, not to be underestimated, preserves the original discs too.

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Over 200 terabytes of the government web archived!

In our December post, “Preserving U.S. Government Websites and Data as the Obama Term Ends,” we described our participation in the End of Term Web Archive project to preserve federal government websites and data at times of administration changes. We wanted to give a quick update on the project — we have archived a heck of a lot of data!

Between Fall 2016 and Spring 2017, the Internet Archive archived over 200 terabytes of government websites and data. This includes over 100TB of public websites and over 100TB of public data from federal FTP file servers totaling, together, over 350 million URLs/files. This includes over 70 million html pages, over 40 million PDFs and, towards the other end of the spectrum and for semantic web aficionados, 8 files of the text/turtle mime type. Other End of Term partners have also been vigorously preserving websites and data from the .gov/.mil web domains.

Every web page we have archived is accessible through the Wayback Machine and we are working to add the 2016 harvest to the main End of Term portal soon. While we continue to analyze this collection, we posted some preliminary statistics using the new Wayback Machine’s summary interface for this specific collection, which can be found on the End of Term (EOT 2016) summary stats page; those and additional stats are served via a public EOT 2016 stats API and the full collection is also available.

Through the EOT project’s public nomination form and through our collaboration with the DataRefugeEnvironmental Data and Governance Initiative (EDGI), and other efforts, over 100,000 webpages or government datasets were nominated by citizens and preservationists for archiving. The EOT and community efforts have also garnered notable press (see our End of Term 2016 Press collection). We are working with partners to provide access to the full dataset for use in data mining and computational analysis and hosted a hackathon earlier this year to support use of the Obama White House Social Media datasets.

While the specific End of Term collection has closed, we continue our large-scale, dedicated efforts to preserve the government web. Working with the University of North Texas, we launched the Government Web & Data Archive nomination form so the public can continue to nominate public government websites and data to be archived.

Lastly, archiving government data remains a critical activity of the preservation community. You can help our role in these efforts by continuing to nominate websites, promoting the EOT project via press and outreach (contact the EOT project team for any inquiries), and by donating to the Internet Archive to support our ongoing mission to provide “Universal Access to All Knowledge.”

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TV news fact-checked: Trump’s first 100 days

To mark his 100th day in office, President Donald Trump made several public appearances and released a campaign-style political ad. Here are some fact-checked claims from those televised interviews,  speeches, as well as the ad, all viewable and shareable on the TV News Archive.

Fact-checked TV news clips on the TV News Archive. Click, watch, and share: https://archive.org/details/factchecked

Fact-checking Trump’s first 100 days campaign ad

President Donald Trump put his stamp of approval on this ad, which includes several factual claims. Among them: “Fact: 500,000-plus jobs created,” and “America becoming more energy independent,” while the words “Keystone Pipeline” are shown on screen.

“Using just the two months on his watch–February and March–the U.S. economy created 317,000 jobs, not 500,000,” reported Louis Jacobson for PolitiFact.

“Samantha Gross, a fellow at the Brookings Institution’s Energy Security and Climate Initiative… notes that she doesn’t think approving the pipeline was a bad decision…  ‘We’ve made it easier and efficient to ship that crude down to the states,’ though [sic.] the pipeline, ‘but as far as changing energy independence, I don’t think so,’ she said,” Lori Robertson reported for FactCheck.org.

Claim: first time in modern era a Supreme Court justice confirmed in first 100 days (mostly true)

At the National Rifle Association’s annual meeting in Georgia on April 28, Trump said, “For the first time in the modern political era, we have confirmed a new justice in the first 100 days. The last time that happened was 136 years ago, in 1881. Now, we won’t get any credit for this, but don’t worry about it.”

This statement was rated “mostly true” by PolitiFact’s Lauren Carroll. “Trump has his history right. He is indeed the first modern president to fill an open Supreme Court seat within the first 100 days.” She went on to report “The reality is that very few presidents are presented with the opportunity to appoint and confirm a new Supreme Court justice within their first 100 days… Trump is the only one of the group who entered office with a vacant Supreme Court seat from the start—meaning he had a full 100 days to nominate and confirm his pick.”

Claim: U.S. has a $17 billion trade deficit with Canada (no, it’s a surplus)

President Trump sat down with FOX’s Martha MacCallum for their “The First 100 Days” interview. In it, Trump said “The trade deficit with Mexico is close to $70 billion, even with Canada it’s $17 billion trade deficit with Canada.”

The reporters at FactCheck.org, though, found that “For the second year in a row, the U.S. had a trade surplus with Canada. In 2016, the U.S. had an $8.1 billion trade surplus in goods and services with Canada, up nearly 33 percent from the $6.1 billion surplus in 2015.”

Claim: Trump has negative media coverage because reporters donated to Clinton (misleading)

The president spoke to a large crowd in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, where he cited a study by the conservative Media Research Center talking about negative coverage of his administration. He then suggested the reason was “perhaps that’s because, according to the Center for Public Integrity, 96 percent of journalists who made donations in the last election gave them to our opponent.”

FactCheck.org reported that the Center for Public Integrity study showed “that about 430 people ‘who work in journalism’ contributed about $382,000 to the Clinton campaign through August, compared with about 50 journalists who contributed $14,000 to Trump. Notably, however, the study did not find that any journalists responsible for covering the White House, Congress or national politics made political contributions of any kind.”

Claim: people with pre-existing conditions are covered in the House GOP health care bill (unclear)

In an interview for CBS’s Face the Nation, President Trump said, “Pre-existing conditions are in the bill. And I just watched another network than yours, and they were saying, ‘Pre-existing is not covered.’ Pre-existing conditions are in the bill. And I mandate it. I said, ‘Has to be.'”

PolitiFact’s Amy Sherman reviewed and rated this claim “mostly false,” reporting “Overall, the latest proposal seems to weaken existing protections for people with pre-existing conditions, not strengthen them.”

An amendment was proposed since then, and Glenn Kessler summarized the new proposal for the Washington Post’s Fact Checker, writing, “if the bill ever became law, much would depend on unknown policy decisions by individual states–and then how those decisions are implemented.” This proposal had a House vote yesterday, Thursday, and passed.

How to find Trump’s 100th-day TV news appearances

To review the 100 days interviews and speeches yourself and grab the clips you want, check out this Fox interview in two parts, the Harrisburg, PA speech, the NRA address, the Face the Nation interview in two parts, the “CBS This Morning” interview in two parts, and Trump’s weekly address.

Trump’s Harrisburg address, as seen in context in the TV News Archive. Note Trump icon on top left, showing this show is part of the Trump Archive.

To peruse all the fact-checking work our partners have done on statements made on TV and archived in the TV News Archive, take a look at this table of more than 800 fact-checks of Donald Trump, his administration, and some congressional leaders. This collection will continue to grow as we develop the congressional collections, add more administration official statements, and integrate new statements and reporting.

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Interactive player Europeana Radio opens up access to Europe’s sound treasures

Europeana Radio marks the beginning of easy and interactive access to Europe’s sound treasures, where listeners are free to browse, listen and tag. The player contains over 200.000 historic music tracks collected from sound archives across twelve European countries, including content from the Internet Archive. Europeana Radio is launched by Europeana Sounds and Europeana Foundation.

Interactive radioplayer
Users can browse a wide range of sound recordings (Classical Music, Folk and Traditional Music and Popular Music), play them on random mode, and tag the tracks with musical genres. The tagging feature of Europeana Radio means that all users, from casual listeners to historians and academics, can become archivists by tagging the musical genres of the recordings whilst listening to them. This ultimately improves the discoverability of these tracks within the Europeana Music Collection and provides a better experience of the recordings.

Improving access
Europeana Radio builds on three years of work aggregating audio content from cultural institutions across Europe, improving their access by enriching descriptions and developing themed sound channels, led by the Europeana Sounds project. As a result more than one million recordings, previously sitting hidden in individual institutions and only available to their respective audiences, are now available on Europeana. The musical archives and Europeana Radio are gathered under a special thematic portal Europeana Music.

Curious? Listen to Europeana Radio and discover Europe’s musical heritage yourself! Will you be able to identify the genres?

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TV news fact-checked: Ivanka, McCaskill, Mnuchin, Perez, and Mulvaney

By Katie Dahl

This week’s roundup includes five fact-checks of statements by public officials, preserved on TV News Archive. Our fact-checking partners examined the financial disclosures of the president, who outspent whom in the Georgia election, and whether high ranking Democrats voted for a border wall a decade ago.

Claim: Child care is the largest expense in more than half of American households (mostly false)

Ivanka Trump, first daughter and adviser to President Donald Trump, participated in a panel in Berlin with German President Angela Merkel. While there, she said the “single largest expense in over half of American households is childcare, even exceeding the cost of housing.”

“Child Care Aware, a trade and advocacy group, found that it cost on average over $17,000 a year for infant day care in Massachusetts,” reported Jon Greenberg for PolitiFact. “The question is, does paying for child care top all the other expenses that half of the households have to cover, such as housing and food?…Government data suggests it does not. For most families, the No. 1 cost is housing.” The Washington Post‘s Fact Checker, Glenn Kessler, also reported,”[S]he would have been on more solid ground if she had focused on low-income households or families with small children, not all households.”

Claim: Nobody applies to the U.S. for refugee status. They apply to the U.N. (false)

“Nobody applies to the United States for refugee status. They apply to the United Nations,” said Sen. Claire McCaskill, D., Mo., during a January senate hearing for Rex Tillerson’s nomination as Secretary of State.

PolitiFact Missouri reporter Aleissa Bleyl reported this week that “about 20 percent to 30 percent of resettlement cases are handled by the United States and not the U.N… Overall, most refugees seeking resettlement to the United States must first go through the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. However, refugees with nuclear family members already living in the United States are given a different priority that isn’t processed through the United Nations.”

Claim: Trump has given more financial disclosure than anybody else (false)

After receiving a question about whether the president would release his tax returns, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said, “The president has no intention… The president has released plenty of information and, I think, has given more financial disclosure than anybody else. I think the American population has plenty of information.”

Allison Graves and Louis Jacobson rated Mnuchin’s statement as “False,” reporting for PolitiFact, “Trump released a financial disclosure report that all presidential candidates are required to fill out, but the fact that Trump has not released any tax filings undermines Munchin’s claim… the lack of transparency around his tax returns remains a significant omission compared with recent presidents.”

Claim: Ossof was outspent two to one in Georgia race (unsupported)

Neither candidate received enough votes to win outright in the race for Georgia’s 6th Congressional District, in a special election to replace Tom Price, who now heads the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.  A runoff is now scheduled for June. Explaining the outcome, Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez said,“By the way, Chris, he was outspent two to one. I mean Paul Ryan’s super PAC was in. They hit the panic button big-time on the Republican side.”

But, “the Federal Election Commission campaign finance records don’t support his claim that Ossoff was ‘outspent two to one.’” According to Eugene Kiely and Robert Farley at FactCheck.org, “Ossoff and the outside groups who supported him spent more than the Republican groups that opposed him.”



Claim: Obama, Schumer, and Clinton voted for a border wall in 2006 (half true)

White House budget director Mick Mulvaney recently defended proposed funding for a border wall between the United States and Mexico. “We still don’t understand why the Democrats are so wholeheartedly against it. They voted for it in 2006. Then-Sen. Obama voted for it. Sen. Schumer voted for it. Sen. Clinton voted for it,” he said.

“They did vote for the Secure Fence Act of 2006, which authorized building a fence along about 700 miles of the border between the United States and Mexico,” reported Allison Graves for PolitiFact. “Still, the fence they voted for is not as substantial as the wall Trump is proposing. Trump himself called the 2006 fence a ‘nothing wall.’”

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CANCELED: Hitting the Wall: How the Media Shapes the Immigration Debate

We are incredibly disappointed to have to tell you all that, due to last minute unforeseen scheduling conflicts, the “Hitting The Wall” event has been cancelled. We know that many of you (us included!) were looking forward to the event and feel very passionately about this topic but circumstances beyond our control have made it necessary to cancel at this time. We appreciate your kind understanding and hope to see you at future events.

______________________________________________

How can we tell fact from fiction when it comes to a controversial topic like immigration? Join us at the Internet Archive for an evening with experienced journalists from the Center for Investigative Reporting (CIR) and Retro Report, who will work with the audience to develop strategies to fight back against propaganda and fake news.

Admission is $10 and includes tacos, beer, wine, and soda:

When: Wednesday, May 17th Doors open at 5:30 p.m. for food and drinks, and discussion starts at 7 p.m.
Where: Internet Archive
300 Funston Ave. SF, CA 94118

The program will take place in three acts.

Act 1: The Story

In Act 1, we’ll go deep on the facts and stories about immigration in the U.S.

What does the data tell us about immigration in the U.S.? Who is coming and who is going and what are the trends for both? What is the mission of the U.S. Border Patrol? What would it actually mean to build a wall along the entire U.S.-Mexico Border? What does the term “sanctuary city” mean?

Act 2: The Challenge

In Act 2, we’ll work with the audience to find practical strategies to make the public debate over immigration fact-based and productive.

The CIR and Retro Report teams will work with the audience to hone in on key questions in the immigration debate, with special attention for the points of tension in the immigration debate.  What are common misunderstandings about immigration? How and why do they emerge?

Act 3: Solutions

In Act 3, we’ll do a group brainstorm on how to burst filter bubbles and work for constructive debate and change on immigration–and other issues

With the audience, the journalists will identify practical strategies they can take back to the newsroom and share with other media when reporting on controversial issues. How can the media work directly with communities, provide trustworthy reporting on a complex issue, and help the public recognize fake news?

Get Tickets Here


Retro Report is an award-winning, digital-first documentary news organization dedicated to bringing context to today’s headlines by telling the story behind the news; it is non-partisan, independent and non-profit.  Retro Report is founded on the conviction that without an engaging and forward-looking review of high-profile events and the news coverage surrounding them, we lose a critical opportunity to understand the lessons of history.  In a culture increasingly disposed towards trending news and Twitter-sized sound bites, the importance of that mission is amplified. Retro Report has produced more than 100 short documentaries and video series and partnered with The New York Times, PBS, NBC, Politico, the Guardian, Univision and others. 


The mission of The Center for Investigative Reporting is to engage and empower the public through investigative journalism and groundbreaking storytelling in order to spark action, improve lives and protect our democracy. Founded in 1977 as the nation’s first nonprofit investigative journalism organization, we are celebrating our 40th anniversary this year. Over those four decades, we have developed a reputation for being among the most innovative, credible and relevant media organizations in the country. Reveal – our website, public radio program, podcast and social media platform – is where we publish our multiplatform work.

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Celebrate a major advance in access to knowledge in India and America — Wednesday, June 14 6PM in SF

By Carl Malamud

WATCH THE FULL VIDEO HERE

Please join us on June 14 at the Internet Archive for a special event celebrating our collections from India including the collected works of Mahatma Gandhi and much, much more. Our doors open at 6 p.m. with a reception and our program starts promptly at 7 p.m.

Our special guest for this event will be Hon. Dr. Sam Pitroda, a former senior advisor and Cabinet Minister under 3 Prime Ministers and widely acknowledged as the father of the telecommunications revolution in India, the man who brought a telephone to every village in India. Dr. Pitroda will be joined by Hon. Ambassador Venkatesan Ashok, Consul-General of San Francisco. Rounding out our program will be Carl Malamud of Public Resource and the Internet Archive’s own Brewster Kahle.

Our event will be celebrating three collections hosted at the Internet Archive:

First, the Internet Archive is delighted to be hosting a mirror of the Digital Library of India, a collection of 463,000 books in 50 languages. The collection was created in India under government auspices and features 45,000 books in Hindi, 33,000 in Sanskrit, 30,160 in Bengali, and much more. In addition to hosting a mirror of the collection, the Internet Archive is adding value to the collection by creating e-books, using optical character recognition, and improving the metadata and cataloging information.

Second, we will feature the Hind Swaraj collection, materials that are integral to the story of Indian independence. Here you can read all 100 volumes of the Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi, as well as the complete writings of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar and Jawaharlal Nehru. You can also listen to 129 audio recordings from All India Radio of Gandhiji speaking at prayer meetings and view all 53 episodes of the remarkable television series Bharat Ek Khoj.

Third, we will discuss additional collections of Indian materials, such as thousands of photographs from the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting and other sources which Public Resource hosts on Flickr and a collection of all technical public safety India Standards hosted on the Internet Archive and the Public Resource site.

Carl Malamud and Sam Pitroda have spent several years building out these collections. We hope you will join us at this event to hear more about how this came to pass and what the plans are for making this material ever more useful. We also hope to have some exciting announcements as well about new resources that will be available.

Universal access to knowledge is the goal of the Internet Archive. We are delighted to celebrate the immense contributions of India and the vital role both India and the United States—the world’s largest democracies—play in make knowledge available to all. Please join us on June 14!

When: Wednesday, June 14th. Doors open at 6 p.m. for food and drinks, and program starts at 7 p.m.
Where: Internet Archive
300 Funston Ave. SF, CA 94118

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TV News Lab: Hyperaudio improving TV news video captioning and sharing

In a new blog series, TV News Lab, we’ll demonstrate how the Internet Archive is partnering with technology, journalism, and academic organizations to experiment with and improve the TV News Archive, our free, public, online library of TV news shows. Here we interview Mark Boas, founder of the Hyperaudio project, an organization that works to make audio and video more accessible and shareable on the web, by providing an easy-to-use interface for copying and pasting bits of transcripts to create mash ups of shareable video. You can find the open source code powering Hyperaudio on GitHub.

Mark Boas talks to the Internet Archive about Hyperaudio.

NW: What is the problem you’re trying to solve by applying Hyperaudio technology to the TV News Archive?

MB: People find TV news credible. It’s very hard to fake TV news. I’d love to see people using TV news to back up any sort of political or other expression a public official is trying to make, by showing the source material and also the arguments about those statements. I think this also has implications for improving media literacy.

(An example mix made at Chattanooga Public Library.)

NW: What stands in the way of people sharing TV news video right now?

MB:  One of the problems is that audio and video on the web has been a black box in a way. It has not been very well integrated into the web because it’s difficult to do that. If you see a big block of text, it’s easy to highlight, copy, paste and send it off. But if you have an interesting piece of audio to share, how do you do that? There are ways to do it, but it’s not intuitive.

Coupled with that is it’s also hard to find audio on the internet. If you’re searching for search terms, you may or may not find what you want, but only if someone has added sufficient metadata so it’s discoverable. Transcripts allow you to search, but also provide a way to share. And the key to that is that you need not just the transcript, but also you need to match the words in the transcript to the proper times in the audio.

NW: Why is it hard to match the transcript to the audio in a video?

The first step is getting a good quality transcript. It’s great that the TV News Archive uses open captions, but it’s not perfect. (Note: the TV News Archive is searchable via closed captioning, but there’s often a several-second lag between the captions and the video, as well as other quality issues.) The transcript usually needs to be cleaned up. The better the transcript, the better the match. Closed captions are done in real time by humans who make mistakes.

The next challenge is to try and minimize the time it takes to match the words in the transcript to the audio. If we want to automate the process, we need to figure out how to do that more quickly. It’s very intensive on the computing side. I’m experimenting with chunking up the video to speed up the process. I think we’ll see that the matching is an exponential task: a one hour transcript might take 30 minutes and a three hour transcript might take more than three times that. But if we split it up into smaller chunks, the processing might become more efficient

How do people try out Hyperaudio?

Hyperaudio is not a commercial software as a service. It’s more of a demo of the underlying technology. We work with groups like the Studs Terkel Radio Archive (WFMT Chicago), to help them make the most of their content and data; whatever we make flows back into our open source code on GitHub. What we do is very experimental, but it will give you an idea what’s possible. If you want to experiment with TV News Archive, you can do that at http://newsarchive.hyperaud.io/. More info on our experiments and collaborations can be found on our blog.

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