FRONTLINE has served as American public television’s flagship public affairs series since 1983.
Described by The Atlantic as “the best news program on television,” the series has built a reputation for powerful investigative storytelling that tackles the tough, controversial and complex stories that shape our times. More than 180 FRONTLINE documentaries are streaming in full, for free, online.
FRONTLINE has won every major award in broadcast journalism: 69 Emmys, including a special Emmy Award for excellence in documentary filmmaking; 31 duPont-Columbia University Awards; 17 Peabody Awards; 13 Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Awards; eight Television Critics Awards; and eight Banff Television Awards.
When FRONTLINE was born, however, the prospects for television news documentaries looked grim. Pressure was on network news departments to become profitable, and the spirit of outspoken journalistic inquiry established by programs like Edward R. Murrow’s See It Now and Harvest of Shame had given way to entertainment values and feature-filled magazine shows. It fell to public television to pick up the torch of public affairs and carry on this well-established broadcast news tradition.
Since its inception, FRONTLINE has never shied away from tough, controversial issues or complex stories. In an age of anchor celebrities and snappy sound bites, FRONTLINE remains committed to providing a primetime venue for engaging reports that fully explore and illuminate the critical issues of our times. In the 2010-2011 season, the series expanded to a year-round broadcast presence that now includes several magazine-format programs, which have enabled FRONTLINE to respond more quickly to breaking news stories.
To support the creation of these new segments and programs, FRONTLINE has deepened its existing partnerships with ProPublica, the Center for Investigative Reporting, and other respected news organizations. New partnerships with NPR, Planet Money, and other news outlets, meanwhile, are supporting FRONTLINE’s efforts to cultivate a new, younger generation of producers and reporters.
The series has also dramatically expanded its multimedia footprint, bringing in digital reporters and producers and making a commitment to interactive projects like Concussion Watch, the Emmy-nominated Targeting the Electorate, and A Perfect Terrorist: David Coleman Headley’s Web of Betrayal, which was named one of The Best American Infographics of 2013.
FRONTLINE gives its award-winning journalists and filmmakers the time needed to thoroughly research a story and the time on-air to tell the story in a compelling way — from Martin Smith’s on-the-ground reporting on ISIS to Michael Kirk’s investigation into the secret history of the NSA’s domestic surveillance program; from Ofra Bikel’s examination of America’s racial divide over the O.J. Simpson verdict to Dan Edge’s exploration of America’s reliance on incarceration; from collaborative investigations like Rape in the Fields and Firestone and the Warlord to provocative journeys like Hedrick Smith’s search for the answer to the question, Is Wal-Mart Good for America?
Credible, thoughtful reporting combined with powerful narrative, a good story well told: That is at the heart of FRONTLINE’s commitment to its viewers.