In 1983, 119 boxes of approximately 4,700 local news film (16mm) reels, shot between 1965 and 1980, were donated to the San José Historical Museum by the controller of local station KNTV Channel 11. They include black-and-white and color footage, and are accompanied by newscast scripts and film storage logs. Unfortunately, the films between 1970 and 1975 were not part of the donation and are presumed lost to time.
KNTV began in 1955 as the first independent television station in San José. In 1960, it became an ABC affiliate, but maintained a reputation for strong local news and entertainment programming. Throughout this period, KNTV news continued to focus on local news for the South Bay and an emerging “Silicon Valley,” and Monterey and Salinas–a region distinct from San Francisco-Oakland, or the North Bay. These newsreels cover a significant period of change as the small communities of the South Bay transitioned from a largely agricultural economy and rural-suburban demography to a region-wide, internationally known high-tech center. Coverage of national events–elections, civil rights, the war in Vietnam–also reflect a regional perspective as political debates, student protests, peace marches, and events surrounding local farm worker and tech worker organization were covered.
During newscasts, stories often required at least two film chains (two projectors, synchronized and running simultaneously): the A roll featuring the anchor or reporter in the field, and the B roll, a highly edited silent piece used as background showing the subject as reported. The sound from A roll could continue for the broadcast while the TV image dissolved into the B roll. As a result, in this pre-video tape era, there was no single recording of the show as seen by the television viewer; instead, this is reflected in the written scripts, backed by the relevant film rolls.
A portion of the films have been digitized through the grant-funded California Audiovisual Preservation Project, and are available for viewing at the Internet Archive. We continue to digitize these films as funds become available.
The scripts for each day’s broadcast(s) are sorted by year and date, and provide a quick reference and context to the films. For 1976-1979, scripts do not exist, but film logs identify stories and time elapsed on each reel. All of the broadcast scripts and film logs have now been scanned and are available to the public via the links below. Contact the research library if you would like copies of these files.
KNTV Channel 11 news reels (Internet Archive)
NOTE: If you are reviewing the broadcast scripts to determine whether there is footage of a story, look for “SIL” or “SOF” next to the text of the story. This indicates that there is likely accompanying film footage. However, be aware that not every single roll of film made it into our collection – quite often footage is missing; in addition, sometimes the film was used on a different day than indicated on the can.