THE BRITISH LIBRARY

UK Web Archive blog

05 March 2015

Happy Birthday Magna Carta! All the best from the Web Archive xxx

MagnaCarta

With the opening of the great exhibition here at the British Library just days away, I have been working on the Magna Carta special collection for the Web Archive.

Media Coverage

By coincidence I started a couple of days after the magnificent discovery of a copy found in Sandwich in a bundle of Victorian documents. The media coverage was enormous from the leading broadsheets to the satirical Daily Mash, which claimed ‘Magna Carta gives England back to France’ in the title. Just looking through the headlines, it is quite interesting to see how the media are using the Magna Carta. The term familiar from the schooldays is used in every possible way: from the actual coverage of the 800th anniversary, auction of a copy in the US in 2007, political analysis, legal impact, British values, TV reviews of David Starkey’s programme to criticising the Prime Minister David Cameron for his performance on David Letterman’s talk show, when he could not remember what Magna Carta actually means. If that was not bad enough, the media ‘re-printed’ Boris Johnson’s defence that the PM ‘feigned ignorance’ on American TV.

MyDigitalRights

Digital Magna Carta

More recently the media picked on Tim Berners-Lee’s idea of the Magna Carta for the Internet and the political idea of the new Magna Carta of the devolution of power for the regions. The online newspapers (and other websites including the Salisbury Cathedral) also wrote about Jay-Z’s album ‘Magna Carta - Holy Grail’. As a selector I am not sure whether to include the last three Magna Cartas (Internet, devolution and the album) into the collection. Is it going too far? If not, where to stop?

 Searching for a fairly popular term always brings the sigh of relief: Soooo many results – great! And at the same time the sigh of worry: Soooo many results – what am I going to do with all the material?! Also it is interesting to see the number of results – some publishers use the term ‘Magna Carta’ in many contexts hoping to attract readers, some on contrary just report the facts. The numbers of urls vary, not only because the type of audiences, but simply because the open online archives of the newspapers cover different time periods. It is also good to see how much reporting is done on the local level, particularly in the cities owning the copies of the historic document.

GoogleSearchMagnaCarta

Soooo many results

The selections for the collection cover not only the media, but also social media coverage, arts and humanities, involvement of the church and local authorities in the celebrations, higher education events, school and research programmes, the underpinning organisation Magna Carta 800th, civil rights groups, tourist information and attractions, including the Magna Carta pub and the Magna Carta barge hotel.

There is also the coverage of the Magna Carta cake, Magna Carta chutney, Magna Carta ale, Magna Carta inspired garden for a flower show and celebrating the 800th anniversary with a #jelfie!

UK-WA_Nominate
Surely there is more to come and I am quite curious what else the online world will say on the Magna Carta.


If you know of an event near you (no matter how low key), or you have read something interesting or just think something should be included in the collection please nominate a site here http://www.webarchive.org.uk/ukwa/info/nominate

Dorota Walker, Assistant Web-Archivist

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