Reading behind the lines: archiving the Canadian news media record

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Sallis, Josephine
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Historians and other researchers regularly turn to news media as primary sources for studies on a wide range of topics. Generally, the materials used are the end products of the news-publishing process – newspaper clippings, radio and television broadcasts, and web programming. These published documents, beyond relating specific events, reflect the values and perspectives of the societies in which they have been created. As products of a creative and editorial process, these news media documents can provide a rich source of information about the media. Government records, personal papers, and published memoirs of those in the media industry, along with media trade publications, are also often studied for insights into the news publishing process. What is lacking in these studies is an examination of the varied records -- internal correspondence, memos, minutes, and forms, for example -- made and used to perform and manage the media's work itself, rather than to present it in final published form. These records are not usually archived by the media. This has handicapped historical understanding of the media and contributed to the underdevelopment of the literature on the history of the Canadian news media. There is irony in this. The media often claims the vital role of holding others to account for their actions, especially government and political institutions. It often does so by championing and using access to information legislation and criticizing lax recordkeeping on the part of these organizations. And yet, the records that would hold the media itself to account are rarely archived and made available. How the problem of the underdevelopment of media archives in Canada can be addressed needs to be explored. This thesis will do so. This is important given the powerful past and present role of the media in our society.
Archival Records, Media, Records Management, Research