Watching Old News Online
Faced with the daily and overwhelming onslaught of the 24-hour news cycle, a good number of people have been trying to give up watching the news. So what do you do with all the free time you acquired from doing so? Might I suggest you watch some Old News?
That’s right. With your free time, you should set your browser/time machine to some point in the past and watch the world unfold. It will certainly entertain and educate, but it also might help you watch modern news differently.
How I started watching Old News
I recorded a lot of television when I was a kid. When I recorded it on network TV I would inevitably capture extra material at the end of what I was trying to record. This was often the local news.
I love my old recordings and over the years I digitized them for my own collection. This included these snippets of news. One day after watching some an original broadcast of The X-Files, I just kept watching and I was riveted.
It was just some local news from the Nineties, nothing dramatic, but it was like a revelation. I had always avoided the news when I was younger, but seeing it over a decade later made it a completely different experience.
Everything they showed was now history and I clearly saw the arc of time represented by the stories they presented. Since I knew the resolution, it allowed me to put many things in perspective.
The News has always been Bad News
One thing you realize when you start watching the old news, people have always thought things were terrible and very close to everything falling apart. Seeing them say this in old news reports and knowing how things turn out allows you to frame modern news in a different light.
Sure today they are presenting scary stories, but so was everyone in the news reports in the past. Now some of that news turned out to be depressingly true, but as a whole, a lot of what they were reporting about actually improved.
Not to belittle what is happening in the world currently. Problems are real and they are affecting real humans. Those things deserve attention, but if you need to relieve some depression, to see some tangible proof that things will probably get better, old news can do the trick.
Where do you find Old News to Watch?
The good news is that you do not need to find old tapes to view old news. Lots of people have done that work for you and posted them online. Many complete with commercials.
Here are a few of my favorites:
A weird name for a prolific uploader, btm0815ma, has been on a mad tear this year. Uploading hundreds of full news programs including themed uploads around things like elections and inagurations.
Panoni has several YouTube channels filled with all sorts of retro video goodies. Not all of them are news, but all of them are wonderful.
For more recent archived news, check out NewsActive3. I tend to avoid anything after the year 2000, but my definition of old news is probably different than yours. If you dig deeper you will find lots of even older news from this uploader.
These three are just the tip of the iceberg. Dozens of people are active in the old news scene and hundreds more dabble. You might not be able to find an exact date or your local station news, but you will find some news for just about every week of recent history and certainly plenty from major events.
What if I want to share old news programs?
Watching Old News is a great way to learn about the past and collecting these shows can be a fun hobby. Where to get started though?
How about your parent or grandparent’s basements? Look around for old VHS tapes. Odds are they consider them trash, so offer to take them off their hands. You will be surprised what you might find on them.
Remember: Even if you don’t want to go through the digitization process, you can find someone who would be more than happy to take them off your hands and go mining for retro digital treasure.
You could also try purchasing old VHS tapes at flea markets and on sites like eBay and Craigslist. Be warned though, a lot of people have started collecting old VHS tapes in the last two decades. So be prepared to spend more money than you think is logical for an old VHS tape.
You could also get involved in the ancient and storied custom of Tape Trading. Sites and forums exist that are dedicated to this retro way of exchanging media, but if you really want to go old school, check out the former Usenet, now Google Group, alt.video.tape-trading. With an archive that goes back to 1994, it a great site to just browse.
Now that you have some, what do you do with your digitized old news? YouTube seems to be the place where you will get the most traction. The three YouTubers I posted above have thousands of subscribers and millions of views. But another option exists, The Internet Archive.
Scattered across the Internet Archive are many full news broadcasts and even blocks of nightly TV broadcasting. Finding them though can be a challenge.
Luckily once you find a collection of material, you can bookmark it and enjoy it as people grow their presence there. Just this year an Mtv Archive launched there and it demonstrates what a full news Archive in a non-commercial venue could look like.
Unfortunately making this stuff available will not be without constant legal challenges. The original uploads of the Mtv content were taken down days after they appeared. Only to reappear again a few days later. So watch what you can while it is available and support groups like Internet Archive and their mission.
Go watch some old news
Old News is not for everyone, but if you are a person who enjoys history and world events, it offers a unique window into our recent past. Its time-capsule quirkiness might make everything seem a bit lighter, but if you watch and listen, you will see that we have a lot more in common with people who have come before us.