New RJI Project Seeks to Preserve Digital Archives

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Fearful that future generations could lose historical recordings, footage, and stories, the Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute (RJI) and the University of Missouri (MU) Libraries are working together to ensure the survival of today’s digital news with the help of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and a $250,000 grant.

“The preservation of online news content—particularly as news outlets flourish and fail—is a thorny challenge, and the grant to the University of Missouri will help the Foundation understand much better what the priorities for support should be,” Patricia Hswe, program officer for scholarly communications, told E&P.

According to an RJI press release, digital content can disappear or become inaccessible if not preserved due to technology failures, obsolete technologies, newsroom closures and ransomware strikes.

A team of 10 from the Journalism Digital News Archive, a joint initiative of RJI and MU Libraries, will visit news outlets across the U.S. and Europe to identify exactly what is hampering the process of preserving online content by examining their technology, workflows and policies. In addition, the team will produce a report highlighting best practices for properly providing long-term access to digital content.

Edward McCain, digital curator of journalism at RJI and the MU Libraries, said the team is still in the process of determining which news outlets they will visit, but a few have already been confirmed, including the Raleigh News & Observer and the Charlotte Observer, both McClatchy newsrooms in North Carolina.

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