WNY's archival TV news footage now available to see online

Mar 29, 2019

Imagine watching an old television newscast from when you were a kid. Now, it’s a reality for Western New Yorkers. The first batch of archival news footage digitized by the Buffalo Broadcasters Association is available online.

Local stories like the closing of Bethlehem Steel, the election of Buffalo Mayor Jimmy Griffin, and the blizzard of '77 are among the highlights of history in local TV news now available to see on the New York Heritage Website. The footage is some of the earliest in the BBA’s collection of TV news reels spanning more than 50 years.

“There’s just a plethora of information out there and it’s the moving images we’re talking about. It’s the moving images that come to life right in front of our eyes,” said retired reporter and BBA Archive Committee Co-Chair Rich Newberg. “This is something that no other medium can accomplish.”

Newberg said the 1960s were a turbulent period in American history, and the footage shows how events played out in Western New York. BBA President Steve Rezska said it’s an important perspective.

“It’s the first draft of history,” said Rezska. “So people are going to watch these stories and they’re going to see, they’re going to know the Attica uprising. They’re going to know what it is now. Now they’re going to see the little details that have been lost to time that reporters reported on back then.”

The process of digitizing involves careful handling of older film that is close to deteriorating.

“The collections I’m working on are from 1966 to 1970 right now,” said Western New York Library Resources Council Archives Service Coordinator Jessica Johnson. “They’re at a critical time period when they really start degrading, so it’s a critical time for us to assess them, inventory them, create databases that have the film slugs or what the topics are of the films.”

More archival footage will eventually be added to the New York heritage website. The first batch of digitized footage is available here.

Classic TV and Radio Equipment.
Credit Thomas O'Neil-White

TV news film from the late 1960's.
Credit Thomas O'Neil-White