Marion Stokes

In 2020, the words "fake news" are used often and with little regard for a distinction between news that is truly not real and news that a reader just doesn't like or want to hear.

At the time that Marion Stokes decided to start recording American television news 24 hours a day, TV stations were deleting or tossing their footage — in affect leaving no trail to check. In recording what each station put out each day, Stokes set out to create an archive — one that will soon be available online for free.

At the Franklin Theatre Feb. 1 through Feb. 5, Stokes will be on display in a documentary film called Recorder: The Marion Stokes Project.

Stokes project began in 1979 with the Iranian Hostage Crisis and ended on Dec. 14, 2012 "while the Sandy Hook massacre played on television as Marion passed away," reads a description of the film from the Franklin Theatre. "In between, Marion recorded on 70,000 VHS tapes, capturing revolutions, lies, wars, triumphs, catastrophes, bloopers, talk shows, and commercials that tell us who we were, and show how television shaped the world of today."

The film explores the project, but also looks into Stokes' as a "radical Communist activist who became a fabulously wealthy recluse archivist. Marion’s work was crazy but it was also genius, and she would pay a profound price for dedicating her life to this visionary and maddening project."

Early on, Stokes recognized the value of news and what it meant to keep it so generations ahead of us could look back on it. And there's nothing fake about that.