UNT placing news film from NBC 5 / KXAS-TV on Portal to Texas History

Monday, January 12, 2015 - 17:10

DENTON (UNT), Texas -- In the early days of news on NBC 5/KXAS-TV, the anchors read from scripts as black-and-white footage appeared on television screens, to explain the story to viewers. "The Texas News" program on what was then WBAP-TV was the first newscast in Texas and the Southwest

The University of North Texas Libraries will preserve almost 30 years of the station's news footage from 1950 to 1979 and the original broadcast scripts on the Portal to Texas History, which the libraries created to provide online access to historic materials from archives, historical societies, small and large libraries, museums and private collections from all areas of Texas.

NBCUniversal Owned Television Stations, the owner of NBC 5 in the North Texas region, has contributed $275,000 toward digitizing the film for the Portal to Texas History. Tom Ehlmann, NBC 5 president and general manager, said the UNT Libraries staff members who manage the portal are "doing remarkable work to make history available to so many."

"As we say, Texas connects us! We are committed to helping UNT preserve what helped shape North Texas into the great place today's viewers call home," Ehlmann said.

With 10,000 reels of film and approximately 219,000 pages of scripts, the NBC 5 archive has the potential to become the largest online repository of local television news in the country, said Morgan Gieringer, director of Special Collections for the UNT Libraries.

Gieringer said the news clips, shot on 16mm film, have not been seen by the general public since they originally aired. Placing the footage on the portal will not only preserve the film, which has been deteriorating for many years, but also provide younger generations with a view of events that happened before their lifetimes.

"NBC 5 News at 6 p.m." will feature highlights from the film archive the entire week of January 12. Brian Hocker, vice president of programming for the station, called "The Texas News" a "pioneering newscast format" that was created by just a few staff members at WBAP-TV in the early days of TV.

"The fine work that UNT is doing to restore, preserve and make this historic film accessible to all is something present and future generations will treasure," Hocker said.

Five weeks of news footage and scripts from August 1956 and early September 1956 have already been digitized and placed on the portal as part of a pilot project. Gieringer said Todd Moye, UNT professor of history, suggested that footage from this time period be placed on the Portal to Texas History first because of a civil rights decision that happened in Mansfield – a court order for desegregation of the high school. A news clip shows Mansfield residents' reactions to the court order. Angry mobs surround the high school and effigies of African Americans hang above the front door of the school and at the top of the flagpole.

Other news stories that are already on the Portal to Texas History include:

  • Texas delegates leaving for the 1956 Democratic National Convention
  • Vice President Richard Nixon making an appearance in Dallas
  • The pianist Liberace visiting a jewelry store in Dallas
  • A local woman recounting her rescue from the Andrea Doria, an Italian ocean liner that had sunk a week earlier on July 26, 1956, with more than 1,700 passengers and crew saved.

To view this footage and other clips that are already online, go to the Portal to Texas History website.

About the UNT Libraries

With more than 7 million print and digital cataloged items in six separate facilities, the UNT Libraries are the heart of learning and research at UNT. The UNT Libraries has been nationally and internationally recognized for its emphasis on digital preservation. The Portal to Texas History, created by the Libraries in 2002, received the 2013 Project of the Year award from the Texas Library Association. It was also chosen as one of the best online resources for education in the humanities by the National Endowment for the Humanities and named a Service Hub by the Digital Public Library of America.

About NBCUniversal Owned Television Stations

NBCUniversal Owned Television Stations is the division of NBCUniversal that includes 28 NBC and Telemundo local television stations, a regional news network and their associated websites and digital platforms, as well as a group of out-of-home properties, a production company, an in-house marketing and promotions company and two national multicast networks, COZI TV and TeleXitos.

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