Snorts and giggles as The Chaser is added to Trove

Snorts and giggles as The Chaser is added to Trove
Behind-the-scenes in newspaper digitisation
26 August 2015

“Have you heard the news?” asked Leanne, “The Chaser newspaper is coming to Trove!”

There was great excitement in the office the day that The Chaser rang the Library. We usually work with historic newspaper content, digitising from microfilm that has already been produced by the state and territory libraries under the Australian Newspaper Plan (ANPlan). Since The Chaser has not been microfilmed, we were going to digitise from the original colour publication.

The Chaser is an Australian newspaper published by the political satire group The Chaser from 1999–2005. The by-line of this newspaper is ‘Striving for mediocrity in a world of excellence’. Not only were we excited about adding this title to Trove, our quality assurance staff who check the images prior to upload were already looking forward to it!

In the Australian Newspaper Digitisation Program (ANDP) team we work with organisations who pay for the digitisation and optical character recognition processing (OCR) of Australian newspapers. Any organisation can contribute a newspaper title to Trove—see the contributor guidelines for more information.

The digitised images and searchable content of newspaper titles are added to the Library’s online search engine, Trove. Each year nearly four million pages of newspaper content are added. Most of the newspapers in Trove are historic, digitised up to the mid-1950s, but occasionally we add newer newspapers thanks to the publishers giving the Library permission. The Canberra Times is digitised to 1995, and the Victor Harbour Times to 1986. The Chaser is yet another example.

The Chaser had a relatively short production run, with 87 issues produced over six years. Mistakes in volume numbers and dates often happen with newspapers, where the printer forgets to change the number of the issue before going to press, and The Chaser is no different. A check of the title reveals two issues numbered Volume 1, Number 6, and no newspaper for what would have been Issues 31 and 32 since the numbering skips from 30–33 for no apparent reason. The title was not published on a regular basis—sometimes publication was linked to a newsworthy political event. One of the fun things about this newspaper is the use of silly issue names, such as ‘The Mid-Life Crisis Edition Edition’ and the ‘Edition After The Edition After The 40th Edition Edition’.

The Chaser, (Glebe, NSW), 23 August 1999, p. 1

The Chaser publishers were able to give the Library several issues that we did not hold, and one issue we couldn't find was borrowed from the State Library of New South Wales collection.

After digitisation, a portion of the images of a newspaper are checked to make sure they are of good quality and then sent to our OCR processor. Each article on each page is ‘zoned’ so that the OCR software knows where to look. After OCR processing the contractor text corrects the title and first four lines of every article. Once online, anyone can text correct words that are not correctly picked up by the OCR software.

The Chaser (detail), (Glebe, NSW), 4 February 2005, p. 1. 

The addition of The Chaser to Trove has been fun. I could always tell when the quality assurance staff were working on it because of the snorts of laughter coming from their direction. Most of the newspapers on Trove are about current affairs, and are an unrivalled source of historical information for academic and genealogical research. There are also thematic newspapers on sports, agriculture, labour, shipping, etc. A satirical newspaper such as The Chaser adds to the richness of this collection. I hope you all enjoy a giggle or two reading this newspaper in Trove’s digitised newspapers, and if you have a favourite title you would like to have added, consider being a contributor to Trove.

You can now find all issues of The Chaser in Trove. 

The Chaser is an undergraduate's idea of satire, and is about as funny as Honi Soit, Tharunka, and other student effluvia, circa 1966. One expects better from a later generation; more sophistication, savoir faire, taste, acuity... Alas! And I speak as one who was there, reading the same tripe, in 1966.