Since 1983, FRONTLINE has served as American public television’s flagship public affairs series. Hailed upon its debut on PBS as “the last best hope for broadcast documentaries,” FRONTLINE’s stature over 30 seasons is reaffirmed each week through incisive documentaries covering the scope and complexity of the human experience.
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. Therefore, 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 begun deepening 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.
“Television’s last fully serious bastion of journalism.”
Over the years, FRONTLINE has built a reputation for powerful reporting that tackles the tough, controversial, and complex stories that shape our times. From Martin Smith’s on-the-ground reporting in Obama’s War to Michael Kirk’s investigation into the hidden history of the financial crisis; from Ofra Bikel’s examination of America’s racial divide over the O.J. Simpson verdict, to special reports like The Age of AIDS or Bush’s War, and provocative journeys like Hedrick Smith’s search for the answer to the question, Is Wal-Mart Good for America? 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.
Credible, thoughtful reporting combined with powerful narrative, a good story well told: That is at the heart of FRONTLINE’s commitment to its viewers.
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