A while back, I saw that the Internet Archive hosted an archive of CNN transcripts from 2000 to 2012. The first thing that came to my mind was that this was an amazing corpus to study. It contained the last 12 years of news in textual form at the same place. I felt that it would be an amazing project to retrieve all the transcript from 2000 to today and someone went already to the trouble of downloading this corpus.
Unfortunately, the data was basically a dump of the transcripts pages from CNN. This isn’t a problem for archival purposes, but for analysis, it would make things a bit difficult. For my new project, it meant that I would need to find a way to download all the transcripts from CNN, parse them and dump them to a database. To make things even more difficult, the HTML from the early 2000s was more about form that function. In other words, the CNN webmasters (in the 2000, web designers or developers didn’t exist, they were webmasters!) would throw something that would render in Internet Explorer or Netscape Navigator and call it a day. There was no effort in making the layout and content organized.