The "Hong Kong Early Tabloid Newspapers"《香港早期小報》, launched in 2022, is a collection of early tabloid newspapers digitized for public access. The collection covers over 80 titles in over 5000 issues of tabloid newspapers published in Hong Kong from 1914 to 1993. In contrast to the major newspapers which focus on reporting "serious" public affairs, tabloid newspapers pay attention to minor topics of interests and entertainments. It serves as an alternative platform for a variety of issues like political secrets, dramas, pornography, and leisure etc. Apart from the above, thinner in size and cheaper in price make tabloid newspapers more accessible and attractive for the public. Tabloid newspapers provides an important insight to the multifaceted society and cultural circulation at the time.
We happen to have, as a by-product of the Tabloid Newspaper digitization process, the newspapers' text extracted with Optical Character Recognition (OCR) service. Hence, we started this spin-off pilot project, as an experiment, aiming to salvage valuable information from the data that's sitting around. We also tried to explore in elementary analysis and visualization to improve accessibility for the public. Hopefully, through this project, we might be able to apply similar model to other collections to extract meaningful, important history pieces for future display and study.
Why the Observatory Review is selected?
The Observatory Review 《天文臺》is selected for its numbers of distributed issues with limited missing records, hence, there is detailed data to work with. In total, from the record, there are 3250 issues with 13030 pages of valid published Observatory Review with OCR extracted text. Apart from the numbers, its international affairs oriented commentary sections and entertainment oriented news reflected political concerns and ways of life at the time. Especially, the newspaper provided observations on the national, mainland, and Taiwan issues. Presumably, the sociopolitical focused topics and distributed time frame of publication (existing record covers 1950 to 1985) should be able to show a valuable piece of public history and provide good bases for analysis and visualization.