(Editor’s note: The celebration of WSB-TV’s 70th anniversary can be viewed online.)
As Channel 2 WSB-TV focuses on its anniversary coverage, they have the University of Georgia’s Brown Media Archives & Peabody Awards Collection and a Grady College class to thank for their contributions.
The anniversary celebrations included research by Janice Hume’s History of American Mass Media class from spring 2018. Hume, the Carolyn McKenzie and Don E. Carter Chair for Excellence in Journalism and head of the Department of Journalism, tasked students with a project that involved extensive research of the WSB-TV Newsfilm Collection in the UGA archives.
“The collection is Georgia history, and it’s a record of 70 years of important news,” Hume said about the reason she assigned the project to her students.
The 40 students were divided into groups and each group was assigned a decade to study. The students were asked to do a background analysis on major events covered in that decade and identify a 20-second raw video clip and a raw clip that was more than a minute-and-a-half that would be appropriate for a retrospective. At the end of the semester, the students presented their findings to Hume and management of WSB-TV.
Through this process, the students saw how the news stories of the day were treated, how they were reported based on the existing technologies and how the daily news overtime became Atlanta and Georgia’s recorded history.
“It’s important for people to go back and understand the past,” Hume told Channel 2 in a press release. “In early television, for example, it (video) was like Kleenex. They used it and threw it away. There’s so much early television lost to history.” Hume added that it was, “impressive that WSB-TV saved its footage. So many places, both national and local television, did not.”
The WSB Newsfilm Collection at the University of Georgia’s Walter J. Brown Media Archive & Peabody Awards Collection contains more than five million feet of newsfilm dating from 1949 to 1981. The collection covers the Civil Rights Movement, the legacy of Dr, Martin Luther King, Jr., the political careers of Jimmy Carter, Julian Bond, Andrew Young, Maynard Jackson, Herman Talmadge, Lester Maddox, Carl Sanders, George Wallace, Richard Russell, William Hartsfield, and many others. The richness of the collection lies in the fact that the footage is raw. It is not the televised newscast, but is the unedited and additional “B-roll” footage.
WSB-TV was one of the first television stations in the South when it started airing on September 29, 1948.