Former librarian Marion Stokes began recording the news in 1977, after having done a stint co-producing a local news broadcast with her husband. By the time cable helped create the 24-hour news cycle, what started as something of a hobby turned into an obsession. Between 1977 and her death in 2012 at 83 years old, Stokes had recorded an incredible 140,000 tapes of local, national, and cable news.
Fast Company reports that Stokes recorded everything from the Iranian Hostage Crisis to Hurricane Katrina — and she needed as many as eight VHS television recorders running 24 hours a day to do it. Doing so was no easy task: to juggle the six-hour tapes recording broadcasts on CNN, CNBC, Fox News, MSNBC, CSPAN, and local stations, she'd cut meals short at restaurants in order to rush home to switch tapes. By the time she was too old to keep up the pace, she trained a helper to keep the recording equipment chugging along. Michael Metelits, Stokes' son, told FastCo, "I think my mother considered this her legacy."
"I think my mother considered this her legacy"
The Internet Archive now intends on digitizing Stokes' recordings and share them with the public, in what is sure to become a painstaking if wholly necessary process. The educational value of Stokes' archive is immense — especially since newsrooms haven't long been in the habit of saving their dispatches. As Roger Macdonald, the television librarian at the Internet Archive, told FastCo, "It will take a long time. Like the little engine that can, we’ll just keep plugging away at it."