Friday, 4 January 2019

public access

The always engrossing Kottke directs our attention to the untold story of Philadelphia television producer, social justice activist, librarian and prolific hoarder Marion Stokes (*1929 - †2012) whose obsession for preserving the present as it happened for future generations was transmuted into a secret personal campaign to record live news broadcasts and archive them, netting some seventy thousand VHS tapes spanning the years from 1979 to 2012.
The Iranian hostage crisis (previously here and here) which spawned the 24/7 news coverage cycle was Stokes’ initial impetus and she planned her professional and family life around the recording time of a long-play cassette, around six hours so she would be present to exchange tapes and keep the archives—having expanded into CNN and others—going. It was not merely a hobby or a way of taking work home, however, as Stokes knew that television stations were losing their independence and doing a horrendous job at conservation, even given the tools available to them. Her thirty-three years of continuous footage ended with her death that coincided with the taping of the massacre at Sandy Hook. Learn more about the documentary in development at the links up top and peruse the video archives here as well.