The WSB Newsfilm Collection at the University of Georgia’s Walter. J. Brown Media Archive & Peabody Awards Collection at the University of Georgia Libraries is a remarkable treasure of moving image history focusing on Atlanta, Georgia and the surrounding region. On September 29, 1948 WSB-TV became the first television station in the South. It is partnered with WSB radio, which began broadcasting in 1922. No other Atlanta area television stations saved their newsfilm, making this collection a unique historical resource. Additionally, WSB was the largest television station in the region and routinely was able to provide more reporters, taking more newsfilm than the other television stations based in Atlanta.
The collection contains over 5 million feet of newsfilm dating from 1949 to 1981. The collection covers the Civil Rights Movement, the legacy of Dr, Martin Luther King, Jr., the political careers of Jimmy Carter, Julian Bond, Andrew Young, Maynard Jackson, Herman Talmadge, Lester Maddox, Carl Sanders, George Wallace, Richard Russell, William Hartsfield, and many others. If it happened in Atlanta from the 1950s to 1981, it is most likely in this collection.
The richness of the collection lies in the fact that the footage is raw. It is not the televised newscast, but is the unedited and additional “B-roll” footage. Newsfilm is a sweet irony in the fast-paced world of television news, and was in use for approximately 30 years. Prior to television, news was captured on 35mm film and shown in movie theaters as newsreels. Newsfilm is 16mm film. It started out as black & white, then moved to color film. Using small portable cameras, it became the standard for recording events and was shown during news broadcasts to augment the story being read by the television anchor. Later, videotape became the medium of choice. It was more portable, did not require chemical processing, and was re-recordable, thereby making it more attractive in terms of getting a story out quickly.