The Corner

Annenberg Timing

I now have an appointment to arrive at the Special Collections department of the Richard J. Daley library this coming Tuesday morning to begin examining the Chicago Annenberg Challenge records. In conformity with the rules for viewing special collections material, I have informed the librarians that I would like to exercise my right to reserve the Chicago Annenberg Challenge records for my own use for the maximum period of five days.

Keep in mind that it takes a great deal of time to make hand notes, and that we are dealing with a truly massive amount of material. It took me two months of continuous work (and no blogging) to work through the many hundreds of articles on Obama (and a large amount of further background material) that I reported on in my piece, “Barack Obama’s Lost Years.” Obviously, we don’t have time between now and the election for a truly thorough analysis of the CAC records. Even hand copying and/or waiting for photocopies to be mailed (which I do hope the library will do in a timely manner) will delay things.

On the other hand, it is certainly possible that, even after a single day, the Chicago Annenberg Challenge records might provide some striking revelations. Or, it’s possible that with just a few days of concerted work, some very interesting, if preliminary, information will emerge from my examination of the records. Obviously, I can’t say for certain exactly what I’ll find or how quickly I’ll be able to get the information to readers. But the “finding aid” does provide some very tantalizing hints and clues, and there is at least the real possibility of some important and quick revelations.

My goal will be to get interesting information out as quickly as I can. But readers need to understand that, in the ordinary course of things, with this massive volume of material and without the ability to make immediate photocopies, I would wait weeks, or even months, before analyzing and reporting, just as I waited with “Barack Obama’s Lost Years.” But again, recognizing the press of the campaign and the intense public interest, I will make every effort to report as much as I can, as quickly as I can.


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