Space Shuttles, YouTube and PEG Channels
In the midst of somber 25th anniversary commemorations and recollections of the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster and the eighth anniversary of the loss of the Space Shuttle Columbia, it's worth going to YouTube for the wealth of aircheck recordings available from these tragedies.
For the Challenger on January 28, 1986, CNN was the only TV network covering the launch live, and that video is available here.
CBS TV coverage begins just after the loss of Challenger, and many hours of the Tiffany network's video is available beginning with this clip and continuing throughout the day with dozens more.
The only media network covering the return to earth of the Columbia on February 1, 2003 was NASA TV, and the last static-y transmission is heard from the lost shuttle around the 7:30 mark on this clip. Additional coverage continues with several additional clips posted by the same YouTube user.
Existence of a special NASA channel is a reminder of the proliferation of special “PEG” (Public access, Education, Government access) cable channels which were brought about by the 1984 Cable Act.
These (in most cases) hyper-local channels and the thousands of hours of coverage of public meetings they create each year represent special opportunities (as well as challenges) for archivists and future historians of electronic media.
In addition to the local matters discussed in great detail, it's impossible to predict which city council member, school board chair or water district commissioner may some day occupy higher office, making their early TV appearances even more valuable to scholars (or pundits, for that matter).
(Posted by Feliks Banel)