Forty years ago today, Richard Nixon resigned as President of the United States. Millions tuned in to his televised address to see what Nixon had to say about his presidency and his reasons for resigning.
What they didn’t see was the seven minutes of the television pool feed before Nixon went live. It’s a fascinating counterpoint to the gravity of the event and a unique look at Nixon’s mindset at this defining moment of his career.
The video also includes Nixon’s full 15 minute speech, in which he cites a loss of Congressional support but does not admit to any wrongdoing. A can’t miss!
Media Burn was in Popular Mechanics–excerpt below!
When Irreplaceable History Lives on Obsolete Tech
Movies, TV shows, works of art, documentary film footage—the visual history of the 20th century exists on rapidly deteriorating formats. Who will save it?
Media Burn, a Chicago-based media -arts center, has more than 6,000 tapes in its archives, and has been hard at work converting them to digital media before the tapes degrade completely. In one acquisition, they came into possession of a trove of half-inch tapes, including early Second City performances featuring John Belushi and Harold Ramis. Their facility wasn’t equipped to handle this media due to their age, though in this case a specialist was able to transfer them to digital formats.
Still, given the relatively short life span of video, Media Burn’s executive director, Sara Chapman, worries about what might be lost.
“The period of videotape is over,” she says. “It was maybe from the late 1960s to the late 2000s. Eventually all those tapes will stop working completely. The earlier tapes are already past their life span, and they really require extraordinary measures to revive.”
Chapman says that the biggest worry isn’t conversion, as more recent formats can be widely played. Rather, it’s getting the word out that video needs to be converted now before it’s lost forever.
“No preservationists think that videotapes can be saved in the long term,” she said. “It’s just strictly a temporary medium . . . It was never an archival medium. It was never designed with that intent.”
“They’re deteriorating quickly, and we race to transfer them to digital before they’re lost,” says Chapman of Media Burn. “There’s nothing like in film preservation, where you can restore the original elements and get the original back in working order.”