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UD home to unique local television news database

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Danilo Yanich

NEWARK, DE.--The University of Delaware is home to a new online resource, which is believed to be the only one of its kind in the world, for researchers studying the impact of local television news broadcasts on viewers.

Danilo Yanich, associate professor of urban affairs in UD’s Graduate School of Urban Affairs and Public Policy, developed the interactive streaming video database through his Local TV News Media Project, which has been examining local television news since 1990.

The project is concerned with local television news content and its impact on the public's perception of the world, and has focused in particular on reporting about crime and criminal justice.

“Local television news remains the most prominent news source for citizens regarding their communities,” Yanich said. “We are interested in its influence on its audiences and are considering whether we as viewers are more consumers than citizens. We are also studying the consequences of how local news is presented on such things as civic engagement, public discourse and public policy.”

The project web site can be found at [www.localtvnews.org] and provides access to more than 10,600 local news broadcasts through the use of streaming video technology.

The site contains a searchable database of digitized news stories from 61 stations in 20 local markets across the United States, and each story can be seen in its entirety.

The markets range from New York to Los Angeles and include Atlanta, Boston, Louisville, Minneapolis, St. Louis and Washington, D.C.

News story categories include crime, health, business, environment, education, politics, consumer information and city, state and national government.

A researcher studying the differences in local crime reporting in two different sections of the country could, for instance, use the site to select Jacksonville and Seattle as markets of interest then punch in crime as a topic and receive a list of stories that match the search. What is more, the researcher could then actually watch the selected news broadcasts.

Yanich said the searchable database is offered as a public service to provide researchers, the media and the public access to all types of stories on local television broadcasts.

“There are many people who are interested in examining local television news from a variety of perspectives,” he said. “One problem with accomplishing any examination has been the availability of a sufficient number of stories that are easily accessible for study. To help remedy that situation, we have developed this web site.”

Yanich said the database is unique in its concentration on local news, noting that Vanderbilt University has a large and well-known repository for national network news broadcasts by ABC, CBS, CNN and NBC.

However, while the Vanderbilt collection can provide transcripts and videotapes, the UD collection is fully interactive, Yanich said, noting that visitors to the site can search the database using a number of factors and then can actually view the digitized broadcast.

“This is the equivalent of the Vanderbilt holdings for local television, although we are miles ahead given the interactivity,” he said. “There is no other thing like this in the world.”

The broadcasts were videotaped by the Project for Excellence in Journalism during the spring of 1998 and later digitized at UD.

Contact: Neil Thomas, (302) 831-6408
May 20, 2003