(I just had a meeting with my org today and found out that I actually was incorrect about some of their storage practices in my survey and next steps plan. The only copy they have of the last 12 years of audio recordings are on CD-Rs in binders! (We’re gonna fix that.) But, we’re introducing the idea of content life cycles, access, and security, so these sections are a lil’ less fleshed out and I’ll be adding to them when we have further discussions with the administration at WYPR about donating some of their old analog recordings to Johns Hopkins. I’ll be working with them further over the winter term to help implement some of the changes I suggested in the next steps plan and this policy.) (Also sorry if the formatting is weird, I just copied and pasted from a google doc and tried to fix it but some of the spaces just wouldn’t go away.)
Digital Preservation Policy for WYPR and Midday
The Your Public Radio (WYPR) station in Baltimore, Maryland serves as a news and communication resource for the greater Baltimore region and the State of Maryland. WYPR is a public radio station, and a local branch of NPR. WYPR generates several local programs, including Midday, On the Record, Gil Sandler’s Baltimore Stories, Out of the Blocks, and others.
These programs serve to document local experiences and concerns of/for residents of the State of Maryland, and could thus be considered records of significant historical, research, or community value.
Considering that the majority of all production files, audio, and administrative files at WYPR are born-digital, implementing a sound digital preservation policy based upon archival best practices emerges as a necessity to ensure the longevity of these locally significant materials.
Preservation of digital records is also necessary for accountability and legal purposes, to enable WYPR to respond to requests from researchers, members of the community, and the Federal Communications Commission.
This policy was specifically drafted in recognition of WYPR’s needs, capabilities, and mission. As such, the practices put forth in this plan do not require specialized training, or drastic increases in staff time to implement, and can be adjusted if issues arise.
Scope and Selection of Materials for Preservation
The scope and purpose of this policy is to address files generated during the production of radio broadcasts, as well as the broadcasts themselves. Administrative files that document the overall management of the station, as well as outreach initiatives are not included in this policy, though this may be amended in the future.
What should be saved?
All materials generated during the production of radio broadcasts, or that were referenced or influenced the structure or content of the broadcast. This includes:
- Meeting notes
- Production notes and planning documents
- Emails or correspondence between producers, hosts, or guests
- Script packs/written scripts
- Promotional materials (i.e. billboards)
- Paper work
- Photographs or images
In documenting the broadcast itself:
- Master recording of broadcast
- Recordings of any recorded promotional spots (i.e. billboards)
- Any post-production files
Roles and Responsibilities
Preservation of production files and audio recordings falls under the responsibility of production staff for Midday, with the majority of preservation tasks undertaken by the senior producer.
Station interns may also contribute to the maintenance of spreadsheet inventories, and limited access to production files on the server, but should not have access to “master” copies of files stored on external hard drives or cloud services.
Records Life Cycle
It is the responsibility of producers and hosts to collaboratively make a decision regarding the long term storage of their records.
Strategies and Preservation Actions
Specific strategies for preserving digital materials differ from format to format, and there is no “one size fits all” solution for digital preservation. Additionally, it is best to keep in mind that one is never “finished” with digital preservation, it is an ongoing process.
The National Digital Stewardship Alliance’s Levels of Digital Preservation provides documentation of best practices for management of digital content. These recommendations are intended for cultural heritage repositories; however, as a small, public radio station, WYPR is only capable of sustainably performing Level 2 preservation actions.
Documentation and Standardized Practice
Accurate, and up-to-date information regarding practices should be maintained in the Producer’s Manual. Additional documentation includes descriptions of the size and extent of the Midday archive, what is missing and why, and how files from the archive can be accessed.
Accurate inventories of all files in the Midday archive should be maintained monthly. This can be maintained at the “daily” folder level, meaning that it is not necessary to document every individual file. The inventory should contain information about the expected file size of the folder, the number of files within the folder, date of the show (if applicable), content of the show, file formats, and dates of file transfer to other platforms. Documentation of this process will be provided in the Producer’s Manual.
- The inventories and corresponding files will be checked for file fixity bi-annually to ensure that all files are present.
Storage and Maintenance
- WYPR will maintain two copies of all digital files in different storage media and different geographic locations. Maintenance of redundant copies will allow for backup in the event of loss or disaster. This will include storage on an external hard drive and a cloud storage service.
- Script packs will be transferred from the station server to an external hard drive daily, after the broadcast for that day has aired.
- WYPR will begin to phase out use of CD-Rs as storage media. This medium is prone to loss and data stored on these disks is less efficient to retrieve.
- All digital audio currently stored on CD-Rs must be transferred to both the external hard drive and cloud storage platform.
- For security purposes, the external hard drive must be placed in a locked drawer when not in use.
- WYPR will adhere to a standardized file naming structure for script packs and audio. Guidelines will be provided in the Producer’s Manual. For further reference on this matter:
- All files will be stored alphabetically by program title, thereunder chronologically by year, thereunder by individual date. A master folder is created for each program (e.g. Midday), which contains all files pertaining to the show. Within, folders are arranged by year (e.g. 2018, 2017) and contain all files produced for the show that year (January through December). Within the year folder, folders titled by the day of the broadcast (e.g. 1-2-18) contain all production files for that day’s broadcast. This will include script packs (contained in their own folder within and given titles that indicate content of the show), and the audio recordings from the show (contained in their own folder.) This format should be mimicked in all other storage media.
File Formats and Standards
WYPR will maintain a list of acceptable file formats in its Producer’s Manual, and limit the variety of formats used in order to ensure ease of access and preservation.
Acceptable File Formats for Text Documents:
Microsoft Word .doc Microsoft PowerPoint .ppt
Microsoft Excel .xls PDF .pdf
Acceptable File Formats for Images:
TIFF .tif, .tiff
Acceptable File Formats for Audio:
MPEG audio .mp3 Wave .wav
3 Replies to “Digital Preservation Policy for WYPR and Midday”
This is a great policy. It is clear you were able to learn a lot about the inner workflows of your station and it’s great that you’ve decided to continue working with them over the winter break! Although you didn’t have a specific information security section in your policy, I like that you included safety measures throughout (like interns not working with the master copies and keeping the hard drive locked up). Your policy is well-tailored to the preservation concerns of the radio station.
Could you provide a little information about the Producer’s Manual document?
It’s really neat that you’ll be able to keep working with your organization over the winter break! This looks like a great policy. I thought that it was interesting that you provided detailed information about the specific kinds of files that should be saved. Since you aren’t working with a cultural heritage repository per se, it makes sense that your policy includes more guidance on appraisal and selection than some of the other policies do.
Echoing other comments – I too am super impressed with your work here! I really like that you incorporated some of the specific guidelines from the plan into the policy (like formats and folder organization). I think this will be extremely useful for your organization, especially when they want to share it with interns or new staff. Clarifying exactly what WYPR should be preserving is SUCH a great idea… I can only imagine that at a broadcasting institution, they produce a lot of records and it might not be feasible to save everything.