Open Archive: The Miners' Strike: A case study in regional content.

Lead Research Organisation: University of Leeds
Department Name: Institute of Communication Studies


This project is designed to allow the investigation of how the BBC might use its archive holdings via the Open Archive. Specifically it will study how the BBC deals with its regional audiences and how regional rather than national news and historical agendas might be prioritised to provide these audiences with material that can be used to explore memories of significant events in their own lives. It will also study how archivists and broadcasters deal with ethical issues raised by sensitive or contentious material and explore ways in which these materials need to be contextualised for future use.

The study will be based on the major historical event of the National Miners' Strike (1984-5) and will focus specifically on how various categories of material, including news, documentary and dramatic reconstruction have represented this strike and how it might be used within communities directly affected by it and its long-term consequences. There is obviously still much sensitivity surrounding the strike and many people feel that their own perspectives have only been partially represented through news ands documentary records and find aspects of the original coverage
difficult to equate with their own experiences. As part of the study we will be producing a compilation of news, documentary and dramatic reconstruction materials to use with audiences drawn from mining and associated communities in South Yorkshire and conducting detailed questionnaires and focus groups based on their own memories and responses to this material. This material will then form the basis of the final report and the preparation of policy advice for the BBC. We will be asking participants their views on a range of issues.

Through this study we will be able to understand a number of issues and present, through a final report, our findings, conclusions and policy recommendations to the BBC and other interested stakeholders.

The project will be conducted by the Institute of Communications Studies at the University of Leeds and BBC Research Centre North- Information & Archives. It will take place over a nine month period ending with a final report and symposium. The project takes place in five phases outlined below:

1. The joint appointment of two research assistants for a total period of three and six months respectively.

2. The identification, selection and digitisation of news, documentary and drama footage from relevant BBC and Regional Film and Television Archives. This will result in a series of compilations of material to be used in restricted screening contexts and within focus groups.

3. The design of focus group questionnaires and audience survey materials.

4. The delivery of controlled focus groups within regional communities.

5 The writing, editing and delivery of the research and future policy report by the Institute of Communications Studies which will then be passed to the steering committee for approval.


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Title As part of the project (Open Archive: The Miners' Strike, a case study in regional context), we produced a compilation film of the materials we used with our focus groups. 
Description Short film 
Type Of Art Film/Video/Animation 
Year Produced 2010 
Impact Publication of author's views 
Description We worked with the BBC to examine the relationships between their institutional collections and the communities that they represent. As a consequence the BBC began to re-examine issues around access and voice and we subsequently embarked on a conversation about developing public impact. This has turned into our current AHRC funded Pararchive Project.
Exploitation Route The findings are being used by the BBC and another institutional partner- The Science Museum as the basis for our current work in the Pararchive project ( through which we are developing open source digital tools to enable communities to engage directly with archives and to use them in the generation of historical storytelling and debate.
Sectors Communities and Social Services/Policy,Creative Economy,Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Leisure Activities, including Sports, Recreation and Tourism,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections

Description Our findings have been used by the BBC to provide guidance on archive policy and as the basis for subsequent research with us via the Pararchive Project. (
First Year Of Impact 2010
Sector Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Leisure Activities, including Sports, Recreation and Tourism,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections
Impact Types Cultural,Policy & public services

Description As a consequence of our research we have been asked to contribute to the British Film Institutes InVIew Project. InVIew is a JISC-funded film/video digitalisation project. 
Organisation British Film Institute (BFI)
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution Information taken from Final Report
Description Collaboration with the BBC North to produce as series of news items & other programme materials. 
Organisation British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC)
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution Information taken from Final Report
Description Discussed in detail with BBC, the potential for follow-on project work & we are working directly with H.Thomas, Head of BBC North, on a number of programme projects. 
Organisation British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC)
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution Information taken from Final Report
Description Intending to commission new works to explore its key themes & been working with poet I. Macmillan & the documentary photographer I. Beesely, we are currently exploring this in collaboration with the Opera North. 
Organisation Opera North
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Information taken from Final Report
Collaborator Contribution This was a joint cultural event between the University, Opera North and independent practitioners.
Impact Part of the Libretto is included in the Digging the Seam Book.
Start Year 2010