The Digital Turn: Exploring the Methodological Possibilities of Digital Newspaper Archives
Media History, 19:1, (2013), pp. 59-73.
Advances in digital technology have made the recent past seem like a foreign country. Media historians did things very differently in 2002. In the last decade, hundreds of historical newspapers and periodicals have been digitised and made available to researchers via online archives. Whilst the emergence of these resources has generated contrasting responses from historians, an increasing number of researchers are now embracing the new methodological possibilities created by keyword-searchable digital archives. As the first examples of this scholarship begin to appear on the horizon, this paper considers whether media history is on the cusp of a ‘digital turn’. It outlines the existing responses to digital methodologies, deconstructs digital newspapers in order to explore how they differ from their paper originals and uses case studies drawn from my own research into the late-Victorian transatlantic press to demonstrate how new methodologies might be applied.