By Chris Adams

C-SPAN, the collection of cable channels and websites with cameras trained on Capitol Hill, is known as the place to go to catch the latest Senate debate or committee hearing, all unadulterated.

But the news organization is much more than that, as it supplements its congressional coverage with press conferences, panel discussions at think tanks and nonprofits, presidential campaign events, and the occasional National Press Foundation Capitol Hill Issues Briefing.

For journalists researching news events or seeking to liven up their websites or newscasts, it’s a treasure trove of accessible video clips. C-SPAN has been archiving all its programming since September 1987.

In a session with NPF Paul Miller fellows, C-SPAN’s Jeremy Art detailed how to tap this video library.

“It’s 240,000 hours of video,” said Art, C-SPAN’s social media senior specialist. “It would take you a quarter of a century to watch.”

Art (Twitter) mines the video database regularly, pushing out newsworthy clips from that day, or digging up historical clips tied to the day’s news. Journalists worldwide can do the same, and clips dug up from the C-SPAN archive regularly show up on everything from blogs to network newscasts to “The Daily Show.”

Here’s what you do:

  • Create an account. While you can search without having an account, creating one allows you to download and archive the clips you create.
  • Search. The search form allows you to specify individual, organization, location, type of event or date.
  • Save. Use tools to clip the part of a speech or event you want. You can download or embed the clip for use on your own website.