Alex Gifford WDSU Television Archive
Earl K. Long Library
Size: Approximately 807 linear feet of reels of 16, 32, and 35 mm film; approximately 849 linear feet of video cassettes; approximately 3,125 35mm slides; card file; 3 linear feet of ledgers
Inclusive dates: 1948-1995
Bulk dates: 1970-1990
Summary: Film and video of news, sports,
and public affairs programs broadcast by WDSU-TV, the NBC affiliate in
Source: Gift, 1996
Access: Availability is severely curtailed by the absence of viewing equipment and the limitations of existing finding aids. Prospective users should be aware that many programs broadcast by WDSU are not present.
Copyright: Permission to publish or
broadcast film and/or video must be obtained in writing from WDSU-TV. Physical rights are retained by the Earl K.
Gifford WDSU Television Archive of
Television arrived in
When television broadcasting was in
its infancy, the Federal Communications Commission modeled the organization,
financing, and regulation of the new industry after that of radio, which served
listeners nationwide. “Thus local TV
stations came to serve as the infrastructure of the industry. Local stations negotiated the role TV would
play in their communities, coordinating the new medium to local rhythms,
interests, sentiments, and ideologies.
They have contributed immeasurably to the growth, allure, and impact of
television in the
Most television stations began broadcasting local newscasts as soon as they went on the air. “Doing so provided instant evidence of community involvement and an identity amid otherwise indistinguishable fare.” In the early years of news reporting, Leavitt remembered, “the real studio was a remote unit. . . . And there were all kinds of stories about those remotes. . . . We would run down the street and cover damn near anything then. . . . A dog fight broke out and we would be there with a giant Greyhound.” By the time the station celebrated its first anniversary, it boasted engineering capabilities and equipment which were among the industry’s most modern. Within another year, the broadcasting schedule had expanded from twenty-four hours per week to ninety-four. “The elevated program schedule of WDSU-TV signaled the beginning of television’s climb to the top as the reigning medium of information and entertainment.”
When WDSU started out, “newscasts were brief and non-visual, for videotape technology, debuting in 1956, was too cumbersome to leave the studio and live news remotes were all but impossible for their cost and complexity. . . . 16 millimeter film, while an excellent local newsgathering medium in the field, was costly and required at least three and a half hours to be processed, edited, and set up for the complex process of playing it back into a live newscast. . . . Between the mid-1970s and early 1980s came a local news explosion, attributable to a synergy of technology and economics. Technology led as Sony introduced the 3/4” video cassette recorder, a portable machine capable of recording 20 minutes on a cassette. With it came simple and reliable editing equipment permitting the rapid assembly of stories from the field.” Combined with the availability of compatible shoulder-borne cameras, these field recorders engendered Electronic News Gathering (ENG), which stations adopted as quickly as their finances permitted. ENG greatly enhanced the ability to produce high-quality news programming more quickly.
According to Robert J. Donovan and
Ray Scherer in Unsilent Revolution: Television News and American Public
Life, 1948-1991, “Television news has been a potent and steady force for
change in many fields. . . . Reuven Frank, former president of NBC
News, observed, `Television news has the power to transmit the experience
itself rather than information about the experience.’“ Before any other TV station existed in
“Lights, Camera, History!”
2Rohe, quoted by Sarah L. Robinson, “New Orleans Television: The Early Years; WDSU-TV, 1948-1965” (M.F.A. thesis, University of New Orleans, 1991), 144.
3Leavitt, quoted by Sarah L. Robinson, “New Orleans Television: The Early Years; WDSU-TV, 1948-1965” (M.F.A. thesis, University of New Orleans, 1991), 182.
4Lorando, “Lights, Camera, History!,” E-1.
5Rohe, quoted by Robinson, “New Orleans Television,” 145.
9Leavitt, quoted by Robinson, “New Orleans Television,” 8.
10Sarah L. Robinson, “New Orleans Television: The Early Years; WDSU-TV, 1948-1965” (M.F.A. thesis, University of New Orleans, 1991), 9.
The collection has not been processed. No working copies are available.
Television broadcasting of news—
WDSU-TV (Television station :