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TSN and hidden articles

I’ve got a question, and it goes beyond hockey. While I’m going to use ice hockey and the National Hockey League to convey my question and make my point, the general question is much broader.

Friday night, I was finalizing my sweater series post for Raw Charge on Cory Sarich. In looking for a reference link to his free-agent contract that he signed with the Calgary Flames in the summer of 2007, I did a web search referencing TSN.ca – a major media source for sports news and usually a reference source for hockey fans. Hockey fans should know this, other sports fans and casual hockey fans might not know it but, TSN is basically ESPN in Canada.

I had to go through third party web sites (message boards / blogs) to find a link to the TSN article on the Sarich contract, and upon clicking the link I found it to be dead.

In another instance, there was an incident during the 2004-05 NHL lockout where former NHL’er and Hockey Hall of Famer Chris Chelios blasted commissioner Gary Bettman for “putting hockey where it shouldn’t be” and banging the drum for contraction. I always found that a comedic, especially seeing Chris had no problem going to the Atlanta Thrashers to end his career. Anyway, it’s a dead link now. It has been for years. (You can see the article with a little help from archive.org’s Wayback Machine.)

So, here’s my question: Why would a major media source outright delete its web archives? Why would a news source delete/remove news content, purging itself of history?

Perhaps there is a well hidden site archive on TSN.ca that doesn’t show up on a Google search where you can find said articles from the recent past that aren’t readily available anymore? Perhaps the archives have been moved to a pay-to-view site like you’ll see local newspapers do? In a world of globalization and Internet advertising, where pageviews are the money-making mechanism with advertisers, the idea that the web entity for a national sports network would purge stories from the past is enigmatic at best.

I contacted TSN.ca’s webmaster about things over the weekend and did not receive a response by the time of publication.

Why would a news organization shed content it has covered in the past? This isn’t like a newspaper that runs out of storage space to house print versions of past issues/microfilm. This isn’t a microfilm catalog, this is the World Wide Web, where servers and hard drives that host websites can be upgraded / increased with ease, and are rarely taking up space on-site at a corporate office/news organization. Clutter is a bad excuse to use.

It just bothers the hell out of me that a media organization would put so little value in history and what it reported on. Yeah, people forget about things in time and there seems like little reason to retain articles from years gone by when they’ve moved out of consciousness with the general public.

It’s one thing to limit access to archive articles (as local papers tend to do,) it’s another to outright hide or delete them as if the incidents in question never happened.

[Note by John Fontana, 06/24/14 2:53 PM EDT ]

Lyle Richardson from Spector’s Hockey pointed out to me in private that, by searchign for the Chelios article that I make mention to abve, he was able to locate the printer-friendly version of the story on the TSN web site. Does this mean everything is solved? Not exactly, but it also means that with dillligence you can locate old articles from TSN. But you have to know what you’re looking for.

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