Alumni Newsletter

Diaz: Efforts to archive The Daily Orange’s past editions start from the ground up

Jessica Sheldon | Photo Editor

Early editions of The Daily Orange rest in the Morgue, located in the attic at 744 Ostrom Avenue.

As The Daily Orange staff works each night to produce the next day’s paper, thousands of yellowed copies chronicling The D.O.’s and Syracuse University’s history sit in the attic above.

The archives — also known as the Morgue — put what we do each day into perspective. Thick books contain 113 years worth of stories and photos for staffers and alumni alike to reference. But the weak point of the archives is exactly that: The paper’s own record lives only in the dark space above 744 Ostrom Ave. and does not extend to any accessible database.

In 2012, the paper’s archives committee put out a call and proposed that with a $200 donation, alumni could sponsor an academic year of their choice to be scanned and made accessible online. By 2014, the generous donations from former staffers led to a third of The D.O.’s paper trail becoming viewable online (you can see the old site at dailyorange.com/archives).

Fast forward to 2016 and there are still plenty of papers to be digitized — 1,063 months of papers, to be exact.

While donations were collected and plans were set in motion several years ago, archiving is an ambitious process that, at times, had to take a backseat to more pressing matters like finding a new general manager or reassessing our strategic plan.

To get the project back on track, Editor in Chief Justin Mattingly and I decided to enlist the help of our staff to preserve the history of The D.O.

We introduced archiving days at the start of the fall semester. During these events — which are taking place on four Saturdays this fall — The D.O. house is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. so that any available staffers interested in helping with the project are able to spend the day with us scanning and logging past editions.

With this move to crowdsource the work for the archives within our own staff, each person involved is assigned one month for which they are responsible. Once a staffer finishes scanning and logging their specific month, they are assigned another. As these papers are catalogued, we are able to build our internal tracking database to confirm any gaps in the paper’s timeline that are unaccounted for in order to track down lost editions.

Though this process takes time, it is steady and allows for a consistent digitization cycle while we navigate the legal realities of creating an open digital resource. Since launching the archiving project five years ago, we have learned that uploading older papers can be considered knowingly republishing false information and opens the paper up to lawsuits.

Once the paper can move forward with having older issues “republished” in a way that does not compromise The D.O. legally, we will find a way to share to ensure past print editions are accessible for all generations of staffers. Until then, the item is still a part of the paper’s 2016-17 fundraising wishlist for its behind-the-scenes logistics, which include increased server space to house the files and the possibility of hiring a part-time employee to help organize the archives.

We are grateful for your understanding that the path to full digitization has been a long one. Your financial support has been crucial to ensuring the first draft of Syracuse University’s history will live longer than the paper on which it was printed.

Alexa Diaz is the managing editor of The Daily Orange. Previously she was the editorial editor. She can always be reached at m.editor@dailyorange.com for any updates regarding our archiving timeline and project.

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