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Abstracts from Vanderbilt Broadcast TV News Archives

We provide scripts to scrape and parse the Vanderbilt Broadcast TV News Archives and link to a dataset that includes both the raw files and the parsed data.

Final Dataset

Our final parsed dataset is at the program segment level. Each program has multiple broadcast segments. Each broadcast segment gets its own row. The dataset has the following columns:

date, program_title, program_duration, broadcast_title, broadcast_duration, broadcast_time, broadcast_order, broadcast_abstract, reporter(s)

Data Dictionary

reporter(s): For instance, for this broadcast, the reporters are: Cosell, Howard; Reynolds, Frank

broadcast_time: For instance, for, the broadcast time for WORLD SERIES / MCLAIN / GIBSON #16 is 12:20:40 am — 12:22:50 am

broadcast_order: For instance, for, the broadcast time for WORLD SERIES / MCLAIN / GIBSON #16 is 16

broadcast_abstract: Actual text of the broadcast without the header or footer.


We start from the site index. And then download all the month-year pages.

The program and broadcast pages rely on a simple counter. So we iterate over all program and broadcast pages. There are a total of 1,119,648 broadcast pages.

We then parse the data to produce the CSV.

When there is no relevant broadcast page, we leave the broadcast_abstract, reporter(s) fields empty.


To make sure, we downloaded all the files, we spot checked existence of various files and compared actual number of links to actual number of files.


The scripts to scrape and parse are written in Python as a spider using the Scrapy framework.


We strongly recommend installing vandy inside a Python virtual environment (see venv documentation)

pip install scrapy
git clone

Run the spider

To scrape all the broadcasts:

cd  vandy_tv_news_abstracts/vandy
scrapy crawl vandy_news -o vandy.csv -t csv --loglevel INFO

or you may filter the spider to a specific month using the filter argument:

cd  vandy_tv_news_abstracts/vandy
scrapy crawl vandy_news -a filter=2019-11 -o 2019-11.csv -t csv --loglevel INFO

Final Data

Final data is posted at Harvard Dataverse

  • Raw HTML (html-vandy.tar.bz2.parta*) To joined them to a file please run cat html-vandy.tar.bz2.parta* > html-vandy.tar.bz2
  • Final CSV (vandy.csv)

The Scrapy HTTP cache (httpcach-vandy.tar.bz2) is also posted. Please extract it to .scrapy under the vandy folder. Then the spider can use the webpages from the cached data if you don't want to get the live data from the website.

CSV snippet

broadcast_abstract broadcast_duration broadcast_order broadcast_reporter(s) broadcast_time broadcast_title date program_duration program_title
(Studio) Officials of company in soft contact field said chgd. with entertaining officials responsible for regulating the industryREPORTER: Dan Rather(DC) House subcommittee hearing into claims that soft contact lens users are paying more for cleaning solution due to FDA (Food and Drug Administration) officials Mary Bruch and Arnauld Scafidi making their decisions after lavish entertainment by company mfring. the lens cleaner. [Representative Albert GORE - says evidence indicates Burton, Parsons and Company, Incorporated, adopted corruption of FDA (Food and Drug Administration) officials as company policy.] Testimony of former company official John Bryer with regard to company consultant Keith Whitham's statement that company owner John Tommy Manfuso would make sure Bruch won at the track noted. [BRYER - recalls betting experience.] [WHITHAM - says Bryer is lying.] Manfuso's testimony outlined; new lens cleaning prods. said now allowed on the market after FDA (Food and Drug Administration) transferred authority for approval to other officials.REPORTER: Robert Schakne 00:02:10 277398 Rather, Dan;Schakne, Robert 05:33:40 pm-05:35:50 pm Contact Lenses Friday, May 29, 1981 25 minutes CBS Evening News
(Baquba: Anderson Cooper) The frontlines of the fight against the insurgents in Iraq introduced; scenes shown from Baquba. Technical problems acknowledged.(Baghdad: Christiane Amanpour) Training the troops in Baghdad featured; scenes shown from Baghdad of the Iraqi troops on a mission in an unarmored truck & walking through the neighborhoods providing security for the elections; details given of the importance of American logistical support. [Iraqi ENGINEER&nbsp- says when our army is going good so the Americans can leave.] [Commander Col. Edward CARDON&nbsp- questions an early pullout.] What makes a good, functioning Iraqi unit discussed.(Baquba: Anderson Cooper) The frontlines of the fight against the insurgents in Iraq introduced; scenes shown from a patrol by a US unit {2d Platoon, Alpha Battery, Task Force 110} in Baquba; details given about the improved conditions in the city as Iraqi forces get better. [Capt. Patrick MOFFITT&nbsp- shows a blown-up suicide bomb vehicle.] The views of the local Iraqis presented.(Baquba: Anderson Cooper; Ramadi: Nic Robertson; Baghdad: Christiane Amanpour) The situation in different parts of Iraq discussed. 00:13:30 811919 Cooper, Anderson;Amanpour, Christiane;Robertson, Nic 09:02:50 pm-09:16:20 pm Iraq / On Patrol / Iraqi Troops Tuesday, Dec 13, 2005 about 1 hour CNN Evening News
(Studio) Christmas card from Harry Reasoner and Barbara Walters shown on screen.REPORTER: Harry Reasoner 00:00:40 41423 Reasoner, Harry 05:26:30 pm-05:27:10 pm Christmas Greetings Friday, Dec 24, 1976 27 minutes ABC Evening News
(Studio) Justice William O. Douglas, under fire for "Evergreen" magazine publisher, dismisses self from "I Am Curious Yellow" censorship case; "Evergreen" distributing company handles movie.REPORTER: Howard K. Smith 00:00:10 10130 Smith, Howard K. 12:08:50 am-12:09:00 am Douglas / Censorship Monday, Apr 27, 1970 27 minutes ABC Evening News
00:00:10 929186 05:48:10 pm-05:48:20 pm Upcoming Items (Studio: Lester Holt) Wednesday, Dec 31, 2008 28 minutes NBC Evening News
(Studio) Govt. reports fuel shortage causes unemployment.REPORTER: John Chancellor 00:00:20 468278 Chancellor, John 05:36:10 pm-05:36:30 pm Fuel Shortage / Unemployment Thursday, Dec 20, 1973 27 minutes NBC Evening News
(Studio: Anderson Cooper) Upcoming item noted.(Studio: Randi Kaye) A new FBI report on the rise in violent crime in the US; the suspension of basketball player Carmelo Anthony after the Denver Nuggets-New York Knicks brawl on Saturday; a school bus crash in Germantown, Tennessee; & the injury to a stuntman in a show in China, reported; scenes shown of the stuntman hitting a flaming ring while on top of a car. 00:01:20 847387 Cooper, Anderson;Kaye, Randi 09:53:00 pm-09:54:20 pm 360 Bulletin Monday, Dec 18, 2006 about 1 hour CNN Evening News
President George W. Bush opens the second day of the Economic Conference in Washington D.C.Analysis of speech and discussion of "War on Terror" offered by Bill Kristol, editor of "The Weekly Standard" and Fox News Political Analyst. 00:08:50 1141931 George W. Bush: Speech at Economic Conference Thursday, Dec 16, 2004 FNC Special
(Studio: Bob Schieffer) Report introduced.(Vilnius: Cinny Kennard) Visit by Pope John Paul II to the former Soviet republic of Lithuania featured; scenes shown of the ceremonies in Vilnius, Lithuania. [Lithuanian WOMAN - comments.] The status of the Roman Catholic Church in the Soviet era and now outlined. [Reverend Ausvydas BELICKAS - talks about rebuilding.] 00:02:10 352935 Kennard, Cinny;Schieffer, Bob 05:36:30 pm-05:38:40 pm Lithuania / Pope John Paul II Visit Saturday, Sep 04, 1993 28 minutes CBS Evening News

When scraping and parsing, we found a few issues. We describe the issues here.

More About the Vanderbilt News Archive



TV News Abstracts and Metadata from Vanderbilt TV News Archive







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