11 votes

The Remarkable Story of a Woman Who Preserved Over 30 Years of TV History

2 comments

  1. [2]
    Atvelonis Link
    This is incredible. I'm fascinated by archival projects; the web in particular is something that's fairly easy to archive with the help of the Wayback Machine extension, which lets you archive any...

    This is incredible. I'm fascinated by archival projects; the web in particular is something that's fairly easy to archive with the help of the Wayback Machine extension, which lets you archive any page you're on, but broadcast television is a completely different beast, especially in Stokes' time.

    In 1975, Stokes got a Betamax magnetic videotape recorder and began recording bits of sitcoms, science documentaries, and political news coverage. From the outset of the Iran Hostage Crisis on November 4, 1979, “she hit record and she never stopped,” said her son Michael Metelits in Recorder: The Marion Stokes Project, a newly released documentary about his mother and the archival project that became her life’s work.

    The year 1980 brought the launch of CNN, and the 24-hour news cycle. Soon, three, four, five, and sometimes as many as eight tapes were spinning away at once in Stokes’s apartment, recording news broadcasts, commercials, and everything in between on multiple networks. While many people assumed that television networks held on to everything they aired, that wasn’t the case. Studios were constantly erasing and recycling broadcast tapes in order to save money and free up storage space.

    I think it's valuable to retain all of the television of past eras for posterity. It's the equivalent of the many millions of books and plays and poems that ancient artists have created that have since been lost to history. People have surely already made use of resources like the Internet Archive to research cultural phenomena from the 1980s and thereabouts; Stokes' contribution here is clearly massive.

    1 vote
    1. Pilgrim Link Parent
      I couldn't agree more and it makes me happy that someone else here feels the same way. SAVE ALL THE THINGS!

      I couldn't agree more and it makes me happy that someone else here feels the same way. SAVE ALL THE THINGS!