A re-post from my other classic film & multimedia blog, “At The Matinee.” Newer posts will appear shortly after the end of the semester at Hood College. For now, enjoy this classic post!
All the best, Chris Hamby
Before “The History Channel” turned into another reality show channel, the network showcased vintage newsreel-style short subjects that were reformatted for exhibition in classrooms.
A competitor to another newsreel that was reformatted for the classroom
The series premiered in 1958, and it was possibly created as a response to Warner Bros.’ “News Magazine of the Screen.” Warners’ version, which was a brief anthology of the studio’s then-current newsreel shorts (from Warners’ Pathé News unit, which was acquired by the studio in 1948- and was discontinued due to competition from television in 1956).
According to Geoff Alexander’s 2010 book, “Academic Films for the Classroom: A History.” Hearst’s classroom newsreel series was created by Jerome Foreman (who left Hearst’s newsreel division in 1960 to form Allegro Productions, a company that is known for producing the “Science Screen Report”).
“Screen News Digest:” One of the last major newsreel series
Many topics were presented throughout the series’ run, consisting of current events or historical subjects. After Hearst discontinued their newsreel unit in 1967 (the same year that rival Universal Studios discontinued their long-running newsreel series), the producers of Screen News Digest relied on past stock footage from the Hearst Metrotone/News of the Day/Telenews library, in addition to new footage filmed by Hearst’s television news bureaus.
The series migrated to color footage in the late 1960’s, and ran until Hearst discontinued the series in the early 1980’s- as videocassette recorders would replace 16mm film projectors in schools across the country.
Since 2014, the Internet Archive has uploaded 62 select versions of the Hearst “Screen News Digest” series. Perfect for archivists, fans of vintage/cult film and people who would like to learn more about newsreels. A perfect compliment to the Prelinger Archives collection.