The Political TV Ad Archive -- powered by the Internet Archive
The Political TV Ad Archive is a project of the Internet Archive. This site provides a searchable, viewable, and shareable online archive of 2016 political TV ads, married with fact-checking and reporting citizens can trust. Political TV ad spending is expected to be in the billions. Yet the same local stations that air the ads provide very little solid reporting on politics. Even fewer correct political misinformation. In partnership with trusted journalistic organizations, the Political TV Ad Archive provides a free service for journalists, civic organizations, academics and the general public to track these ads in context. The project is open source and available on github: here is this site and here is the Duplitron.
For an introduction to the Political TV Ad Archive and how to use it, check out this video.
In the general elections, the Political TV Ad Archive is tracking political ad airings in 12 TV broadcast markets. Please note that the San Francisco feed includes national cable TV stations, such as Fox and MSNBC, while the other locations have local broadcast (no cable) stations only. For more details, visit our data page:
Boston, MA/Manchester, NH
Cedar Rapids-Waterloo-Iowa City-Dublin, Iowa
Las Vegas, NV
San Francisco-Oakland-San Jose, CA
Tampa-St. Petersburg, FL
Washington, DC/Hagerstown, MD
The Political TV Ad Archive grows from experience with the 2014 Philly Political Media Watch Project, which tracked political ads in the Philadelphia area. For that pilot project, the Internet Archive partnered with the Sunlight Foundation, Philadelphia’s Committee of Seventy (a non-partisan government watchdog) and University of Delaware’s Center for Community Research & Service. Analysis showed that the time devoted to poitical ads outnumbered the time devoted to substantive political stories by a 45 to 1. In addition, Kalev Leetaru built an interactive visual tool allowing users to dive into data collected in a pilot project tracking ads in the mid-term elections, filtering by candidate, channel, ad sponsor and more.
About the Internet Archive and TV News Archive
The Internet Archive is a non-profit digital library founded by Brewster Kahle in 1996 with the mission to provide “Universal access to all Knowledge.” The organization seeks to preserve the world’s cultural heritage and to provide open access to our shared knowledge in the digital era, supporting the work of historians, scholars, journalists, students, the blind and reading disabled, as well as the general public.
The TV News Archive, launched in 2012, also a project of the Internet Archive, is a research library service is intended to enhance the capabilities of journalists, scholars, teachers, librarians, civic organizations and other engaged citizens. It repurposes closed captioning to enable users to search, quote and borrow U.S. TV news programs. Available at no charge, the public can use the index of searchable text and short streamed clips to explore TV news, discover important resources, understand context, evaluate assertions of fact, engage with others and share insights.
Robin Chin, Archivist
Jessica Clark, Director of Media Impact Strategy & Assessment
Katie Donnelly, Associate Director of Media Impact Strategy & Assessment
Tracey Jaquith, TV Architect, Internet Archive
Jacob M. Johnson, Collections Coordinator
Jeff Kaplan, Collections Manager
Carolyn Li-Madeo, Designer
Roger Macdonald, Director of Television Archive
Ralf Muehlen, Cluster Engineer
Alexis Rossi, Director of Media & Access
Dan Schultz, Senior Creative Technologist
Trevor von Stein, Systems Administrator & Archivist
Nancy Watzman, Managing Editor, Television Archive, Internet Archive
Angela Woodall, Research Associate (former)
The first phase of the Political TV Ad Archive, covering key 2016 primary elections, was funded by a $200,000 grant from the Knight News Challenge, an initiative of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. The Challenge was a collaboration joined by the Rita Allen Foundation, the Democracy Fund, and the Hewlett Foundation. The Democracy Fund also granted $49, 634 to support joint trainings of journalists in key primary states in partnership with the American Press Institute. Additional support came from personal donations by Christopher Buck ($25,000) and Craig Newmark ($20,000). The January 2016 launch event was co-sponsored by the National Press Club Journalism Institute. Project staff are gathering lessons learned, which will inform planning and fundraising for the second phase of the project: tracking political ads in key 2016 general election battleground states.
The Rita Allen Foundation is supporting the Political TV Ad Archive’s monitoring of political ads in the general elections with a $110,000 grant. The foundation was part of a consortium that supporting the project’s work during the primaries.