FRONTLINE (PBS) Names Inaugural Cohort of the Investigative Journalist Equity Initiative
Top row, from left to right: Juanita Ceballos, Jonathan Clasberry, Lora Moftah. Bottom row, from left to right: Serginho Roosblad, Patty Talahongva, Xinyan Yu.
FRONTLINE, the award-winning PBS investigative documentary series based at GBH in Boston, today announced the selection of filmmakers for the Investigative Journalist Equity Initiative (IJEI), a new effort aimed at increasing diversity in the documentary filmmaking landscape.
The initiative is generously supported by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the Abrams Foundation, PBS and GBH.
“We are proud to support these mid-career journalists and investigative documentary storytellers as they seek out compelling stories to bring to PBS audiences,” said Raney Aronson-Rath, editor-in-chief and executive producer of FRONTLINE.
“We are grateful to The Corporation for Public Broadcasting and the Abrams Foundation for their generous support of this new enterprise; to GBH and PBS for continually championing FRONTLINE as it diversifies and expands its storytelling ranks; and to our partners at the National Multicultural Alliance,” Aronson-Rath added.
The journalist-filmmakers in the IJEI’s first cohort will receive support for the full trajectory of the documentary filmmaking process from FRONTLINE’s senior editorial team – collaborating with the journalists from the earliest stages of research and development, through production, distribution, and promotion. The journalists will also work inside production companies FRONTLINE works with, including The Documentary Group, Left/Right, Maxine Productions and Trilogy Films, expanding their expertise on the business side of documentary filmmaking, with the ultimate goal of increasing the number of production companies led by individuals from underrepresented groups.
The six journalists selected for the IJEI’s inaugural cohort:
- Juanita Ceballos is a documentary producer and filmmaker who has extensive experience working in the U.S. and abroad, with bylines in Brazil, Colombia, Mexico, El Salvador, Venezuela, and Ukraine. She has covered sensitive topics, including Colombia’s civil conflict, police brutality in the United States, and the refugee crisis in Venezuela. Her work has appeared on VICE, HBO, Showtime, Telemundo, Al Jazeera, Univision, NBC News, TIME, Narratively, and The New York Times. Ceballos will partner with The Documentary Group, a two-time Academy Award-nominated production company.
- Jonathan Clasberry is an Afro-Tejano filmmaker based in Brooklyn, NY. He has produced documentary series for Netflix, CNN, and Epix, collaborating with journalistic outlets like The New York Times and world-renowned journalists such as Christiane Amanpour. He has also produced documentary features that have screened at film festivals around the world. His list of credits includes High on the Hog: How African American Food Transformed America; Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown; Fiasco, a documentary-series examining the Iran-Contra scandal; and, most recently, The 1619 Project, premiering this month on Hulu. Clasberry will work with the production company Left/Right.
- Lora Moftah is a reporter, producer and director with over a decade of journalism experience across print and television. Moftah’s work has appeared on ABC, Al Jazeera, CNN and most recently on The New York Times Presents, the award-winning documentary series from The New York Times, Left/Right, FX and Hulu. She produced multiple films for the series, including The Killing of Breonna Taylor, To Live and Die in Alabama, and They Get Brave. Her most recent film for the series, Superspreader, which she also directed, was about the proliferation of COVID vaccine misinformation online. Moftah also helped to develop, launch and produce The Weekly documentary series on FX and Hulu, where she worked on stories about U.S. arms sales to Saudi Arabia, the rise of Deepfake technology, and election disinformation campaigns. Moftah is currently working with Maxine Productions, a newly launched film and television production company in Sony Pictures Television’s nonfiction group.
- Serginho Roosblad is an Emmy Award-winning documentary filmmaker who is part of the Associated Press’ Global Investigations team. At the AP, he has worked on a variety of investigative short documentaries, including on police use of force on children, Retired Lt. General Michael Flynn, and a contaminated former army base, which might have caused cancer in hundreds of veterans. As a lover of photography, Roosblad has also directed and produced a trio of award-winning films on prolific photographers in America. Prior to his work in documentary film, he spent much of his early career in journalism reporting on Africa, where he covered a wide range of topics such as drug addiction in Uganda, piracy in Somalia, and the musical heritage of Zanzibar. For his documentary, Roosblad will partner with the production company Trilogy Films.
- Patty Talahongva is a Hopi journalist, documentary producer, and news executive. She was the first Native American anchor of a national news program in the United States and is involved in Native American youth and community development projects. A past president of the Native American Journalists Association, she was the recipient of their Medill Milestone Achievement Award. In 2019, she was hired by Indian Country Today to create the first national television newscast produced by an all-Indigenous news staff and focused on Indigenous Peoples. As an independent journalist, she produced several documentaries including one for the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian on American Indian code talkers; a series of videos for the Native Voices exhibit at the Penn Museum; and Lady Warriors about a girl’s cross-country team at a high school on the border of the Hopi and Navajo reservations.
- Xinyan Yu is an award-winning video journalist and filmmaker based in Washington D.C. Yu began her journalism career working as a producer for BBC News, covering breaking news across Asia in Beijing. In 2018, she launched the North America video team for Hong Kong’s flagship English newspaper South China Morning Post in New York as its senior video producer. She later rejoined the BBC in 2020 as a senior video journalist covering the U.S. from Washington D.C. Yu has directed, produced and shot content from short news features to hour-long documentaries for the BBC, CNBC, NOVA (PBS) and Channel NewsAsia. She is a New America National Fellow, a Firelight Media Doc Lab fellow, a Brown Girls Doc Mafia Sustainable Artist fellow and an alumnus of the Yaddo Residency.
“We are inspired by the work that these talented filmmakers have already done and look forward to collaborating with them at FRONTLINE,” said Nina Chaudry, Senior Series Producer.
The IJEI is in partnership with the National Multicultural Alliance (NMCA), an alliance of five nonprofit organizations — Latino Public Broadcasting, Black Public Media, Vision Maker Media, Pacific Islanders in Communication, and the Center for Asian American Media — that are dedicated to bringing unique voices and perspectives from diverse communities to all aspects of public broadcasting.
“FRONTLINE is the gold standard when it comes to investigative reporting and editorial integrity,” said Patricia Harrison, President and CEO of CPB. “CPB is proud to support the Investigative Journalist Equity Initiative ensuring that journalists from underrepresented communities have more opportunities to apply their talents to longform documentaries.”
“FRONTLINE continues to set the standard for journalistic excellence with their Investigative Journalist Equity Initiative,” said Paula Kerger, PBS President and CEO. “We are very focused on what stories are told on our screens, and by whom, and this initiative will help provide a wider range of voices and perspectives. PBS is proud to support this effort and we look forward to the work that will be done by the inaugural cohort of journalists.”
“To tell accurate stories of our communities, we have to ensure all voices are heard,” said Susan Goldberg, president and CEO at GBH. “We are proud to advance this initiative to bring unique voices and additional perspectives to the long-form, investigative journalism that FRONTLINE does so well.”
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ABOUT THE ABRAMS FOUNDATION
The Abrams Foundation, based in Boston, was founded by Amy and David Abrams in 1997. Its mission is to nurture creative, deeply informed communities, while promoting equity and fairness. Grant making is concentrated in three areas: journalism and narrative, arts and creativity, and access and opportunity.
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