Expos√?¬©: America's Investigative Reports is an award-winning PBS documentary series that gives a primetime spotlight to some of the most important investigative journalism in America.
From Portland to El Paso, Chicago to Miami, San Francisco to Hartford (and of course in Washington, D.C.), investigative journalism in the United States is alive and well. Every day, reporters are on the trail of those in government, corporations, and other institutions who fail to protect those they serve, whether by covering up harmful actions, using their influential, public-service positions to reap personal gain, or otherwise betraying the public trust. The reporters chase down leads, question those in power, receive anonymous tips, crunch electronic data, analyze boxfuls of paper documents, visit the scenes, cultivate sources, pursue hunches, check and recheck facts - all in an effort to hold accountable those who are supposed to be serving the public interest. And when it is time to publish or go on the air, they hope that not only will wrongs be righted, but also that if they are, the "system" will have a chance to work.
Yet it does not always work out that way. Investigative journalism often does not have the impact or reach that it should. Published or broadcast stories seldom gain exposure beyond "the city limits" in which they are produced - even when the issues have national resonance and repercussions.
In September 2006, Thirteen/WNET in association with the Center for Investigative Reporting (Berkeley, CA) launched Expos√?¬©: America's Investigative Reports, a series that brings national attention to such reports in a way unprecedented on American television. Each program shines a light on civic-minded journalism in an effort to promote its democratic role as a check on governmental, corporate, and other kinds of power. By featuring the best of investigative journalism, Expos√?¬© provides the public with a mechanism to scrutinize the institutions that are critical to the life of the country. This type of reporting arms people with information about their "tax dollars at work," their elected representatives' actions, and the activities of business and public agencies. In short, it presents the stories the public has a right to know.
Each of the original, documentary-style, half-hour episodes features investigations originating in print, on television, radio or the internet. The program brings the audience close to investigations that have rocked communities, shaken up the powers-that-be, and truly made a difference. Expos√?¬© has cast a wide net, featuring topics including waste and fraud at the Federal Emergency Management Agency, clinical drug trial safety, and human trafficking, to name a few. In its second season, Expos√?¬© will continue to be the national window for powerful investigations and remain a catalyst for reporters, journalism students, and citizens to ask more questions of those in power.
Many investigative reporters and editors are fascinating storytellers who are able to provide shrewd insights and details about their experiences. Such insights and "war stories" seldom if ever make it into the reports themselves. Yet Expos√?¬© is driven by the reporters and captures their passion and energy in a way that television has never done before. These insiders provide the context, color, and detail for each story along with a rare look at journalism from the other side of the lens. And because Expos√?¬© features the finest in recent American investigative reporting and increases its overall impact, the series is relevant, timely, and vital, and adds an important new voice to the national discussion about journalism's place in a democracy.
"Expos√?¬© aims to do three things," says Stephen Segaller, director of news and public affairs programming at Thirteen and executive-in-charge of Expos√?¬©. "We amplify these investigative reports - gleaned from magazines, newspapers, TV news, radio, and online publications - and bring them to a national audience. With the participation of the reporters in our documentaries, we demonstrate how investigative journalism, at its best, is done. And, finally, we demonstrate that investigative journalism is substantive, important and influential."