Surfing for material related to this entry, I came across this delightfully antiquated object from local television past: a classic promo (“Catch 5!”) from the 1970s, in this instance for WEWS channel 5 in Cleveland. As suggested on the YouTube post, it seamlessly pre-figures the aesthetic of the funny and silly Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy (2004). Clearly this is part of the allure that has drawn some 45,000 views over the past year. The bouncy iterative tune, variety show choreography, and strobo-pop colors/animation all could have informed the satirical humor of the Anchorman aesthetic. But there is something here that interrupts a simple economy of simulacra that we might deduce from these cultural referents. Who is that little white-haired lady, the one who assumes such an air of casual entitlement on the set with the helmet-hair, plaid suits, and polka dot shirts of the dudes from happy-talk news? Within a few searches and mouse-clicks, it was evident that the clip could also serve as a gateway from the local, toward recognizing the expansive and discontinuous histories of mass media. It also made clear how useful the internet can be in researching, demonstrating, and understanding this. A few highlights: Dorothy Fuldheim was 54 years old and a seasoned broadcaster when she joined the staff of WEWS in 1947, months before it went on the air as the first television station in Cleveland. Reputedly the first woman anchor to helm her own television news program, Fuldheim delivered news, interviews, and analysis in various formats until she was in her early 90s. The station was started by press legend Edward W. Scripps, whose newspaper The Cleveland Press centered a large communications conglomerate, and who founded the United Press news service to compete with the Associated Press. With his sister, future philanthropist Ellen Browning Scripps, he had helped his brother James E. Scripps start The Detroit News in 1873, where Ellen helped to invent the feature article. (She later founded Scripps College in California, and her home in La Jolla became the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego.) Part of E.W. Scripps’ legacy is that he trusted local editors to know best how to run local newspapers. Today, WEWS is one of ten local television stations owned by The E.W. Scripps Company, now centered in Cincinnati, which also controls twenty newspapers, interactive media outlets, cable lifestyle media brands (such as HGTV, Food Network, etc.), a licensing and syndication business, and Scripps Howard News Service. The company will separate into two corporations this summer. The newspapers, spread across the U.S., feature similar boiler-plate webpage formats in the goal to maintain audience share; The Albuquerque Tribune ceased publication just this past weekend. Scripps Co. no longer owns any papers in Ohio. I hope even this brief survey might suggest that local television can be the locus for a surprisingly vital and complex understanding of media history, and should no longer remain a largely ignored (abject?) object in television studies. (See a key marvelous new exception to this here.) When local television is considered, in academia or on television itself, the gesture typically reifies janus-faced pleasures of nostalgia/camp as the essential and perhaps isolating frame of context. While camp in particular fosters an opening of reading possibilities, I want to encourage more possibilities than camp readings tend to engage. As the clip demonstrates, nostalgia/camp can indeed be pleasureable. (Search other clips with Fuldheim for other examples.) But it isn’t a buzz-kill to suggest that the qualities and attractions of nostalgia/camp can be mobilized toward other kinds of significant historical inquiry, especially via the internet. It may prove useful and fun to seek out projects related to this one - call them Burgundy histories? - that deploy camp to new advantage. Or might such projects conflict with a possible attendant pleasure of these texts? I wonder whether clips such as this one can seem to guarantee the foreclosure of history-as-inquiry, based upon a presumption that “history” has been confirmed to be linear, dead, and static, a view secured by evidence that confirms an amused sense of satisfaction/condescension? Let’s push against that grain. I suspect that as in this case, the “evidence” already does. You stay classy, In Media Res!