Audiovisual documentation in the preparation of news for television news programs

Teresa Agirreazaldegi (University of the Basque Country, Bilbao, Spain)

Aslib Proceedings

ISSN: 0001-253X

Publication date: 18 January 2008



This paper aims to take, as a starting point, the contribution of audiovisual documentation to TV news programs, the impact of digitalisation in the organisation and design of audiovisual documentation's services is analysed.


Data, collected by a quantitative and qualitative research on: the use of audiovisual documentation in the news, documentation requests processed by journalists, and the study of the operation of documentation services of six TV stations, serve as a basis to analyse the factors that must be taken into account when it comes to designing query systems of digital audiovisual documentation, so that these systems meet the needs of journalists and can be used with satisfactory results by the users.


Audio‐visual documentation is one of the constituent elements of TV information on current events, as much for its quantitative presence (40 percent of the news) as for its qualitative contribution to news messages, as well as for its general use in all the news sections. Audiovisual documentation has a greater presence in important news, and can carry out informative, completive or illustrative functions. News programs use the audiovisual documentation that these same programs have generated, using it mainly as a purely visual documentation. In documentation services, the journalist asks mainly for people's images and, to a lesser extent, formal groups and the news. A second group of categories collects around 10 percent of requests: places, animal‐thing, natural phenomena, informal group; while the remaining categories (concept and work) have a marginal incidence. The analysis of documentation use in the news, as well as of the content of requests made by the journalists, offers important clues when it come to designing documentary information systems, specially regarding the analysis of audiovisual douments and databases' query, used directly by the end user.

Research limitations/implications

Collected data regarding analogue TV are used to make forecasts about what should be documentation in digital TV.


The detailed analysis of the use of audiovisual documentation in the news, as well as of the requests made by the journalists to documentation services, constitutes an important guide when it comes to successfully designing the new digital systems of audiovisual documentation.



Agirreazaldegi, T. (2008), "Audiovisual documentation in the preparation of news for television news programs", Aslib Proceedings, Vol. 60 No. 1, pp. 47-54.

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