A Northwestern University joint initiative of Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications and the Robert R. McCormick School of Engineering & Applied Science. Northwestern University joint initiative of Medill & McCormick School of Engineering.
  • There are many worlds. In the world of national public service radio stations, radio interviews and programmes have been (selectively) preserved and indexed for decades (much longer than the 15 years mentioned above). The BBC used to have about nine ‘selectors’ who decided what would be kept from BBC Radio’s channels (only 4 channels before the 1990’s). Subject indexing was done using a controlled vocabulary, and much the same process was used across Europe (where most countries have had public broadcasting for 60 yrs or more). The result in the BBC was some 300,000 hours of catalogued radio content, and an item for an obituary would have been retrieved within one or two hours (maximum), not the two days for a Maya Angelou item as mentioned in the interview above. But — there would have been no transcripts, so retrieval depended upon the manual indexing. Now with austerity and budget cuts, the manual indexing is gone, and speech recognition to producing ‘something’ as a substitute is being used across Europe, with mixed results. The most unfortunate result is that speech recognition is being introduced to replace people who did a good job, so that the technology is resented for what it replaces, rather than being valued for what it does.