CNN reports that “Some of the most iconic 9/11 news coverage is lost. Blame Adobe Flash.”
Journalism is often considered the first draft of history, but what happens when that draft is written on a software program that becomes obsolete?
Adobe ending support for Flash — its once ubiquitous multimedia content player — last year meant that some of the news coverage of the September 11th attacks and other major events from the early days of online journalism are no longer accessible. For example, The Washington Post and ABC News both have broken experiences within their September 11th coverage, viewable in the Internet Archive. CNN’s online coverage of September 11th also has been impacted by the end of Flash.
That means what was once an interactive explainer of how the planes hit the World Trade Center or a visually-rich story on where some survivors of the attacks are now, at best, a non-functioning still image, or at worst, a gray box informing readers that “Adobe Flash player is no longer supported.”
Dan Pacheco, professor of practice and chair of journalism innovation at Syracuse University’s Newhouse School, has experienced the issue firsthand. As an online producer for the Post’s website in the late 1990s and later for America Online, some of the work he helped build has disappeared.
“This is really about the problem of what I call the boneyard of the internet. Everything that’s not a piece of text or a flat picture is basically destined to rot and die when new methods of delivering the content replace it,” Pacheco told CNN Business. “I just feel like the internet is rotting at an even faster pace, ironically, because of innovation. It shouldn’t.”