FRONTLINE Announces a Big Collaboration

October 1, 2012

FRONTLINE and Marketplace Launch Multiplatform-Media Initiative

 Big Money 2012


Groundbreaking collaboration offers in-depth investigation of campaign finance practices


In an unprecedented collaboration among public media’s most respected news outlets, FRONTLINE and Marketplace launch a groundbreaking multiplatform-media investigation this month into campaign finance practices.

For Big Money 2012, FRONTLINE joins forces with American Public Media’s signature business news program Marketplace for an in-depth investigation into the impact big money is having on America’s elections. Additionally, Big Money 2012 features content from PBS’s NewsHour and the independent, nonprofit newsroom ProPublica.

“FRONTLINE is thrilled to have an opportunity to work with some of the ‘best of the best’ in public-interest journalism to produce this important investigation,” says FRONTLINE’s deputy executive producer Raney Aronson-Rath, who noted that Big Money 2012 is part of PBS’s broader Election 2012 coverage. “As America prepares to elect its next president, this timely initiative explores the dramatic and changing impact of big money on our democratic process.”

The centerpiece of Big Money 2012 is Big Sky, Big Money, a one-hour FRONTLINE documentary scheduled to premiere Tuesday, Oct. 30, at 9:30 p.m. on PBS (check local listings). Reported by Marketplace host and senior editor Kai Ryssdal, the documentary travels to the remote epicenter of the campaign finance debate, Montana, which challenged the Supreme Court’s landmark Citizens United ruling in court. Through exhaustive reporting and an examination of the outside money pouring into the state in an attempt to influence one of the closest U.S. Senate races in the nation, Big Sky, Big Money offers a real-life tale of money, power and political intrigue.

Marketplace is uniquely positioned to offer smart, accessible and timely coverage of economic issues that matter to all Americans,” says Deborah Clark, executive producer of American Public Media’s Marketplace. “To bring our reporting style and sensibility to a journalistic collaboration with an institution like FRONTLINE is a great opportunity to cover one of the major issues of this election in a smart and engaging way. Public media plays a critical role in informing audiences of the big socioeconomic issues of the election. As Americans get ready to head to the polls, we are very excited to be a part of Big Money 2012.”

The Big Money 2012 initiative features:

  • Four companion radio reports that have already begun airing on Marketplace (broadcasts airing Oct. 10, 18, 23 and 30; check local public radio listings)
  • A 25-minute web-exclusive FRONTLINE film called The Digital Campaign, featuring NewsHour correspondent Hari Sreenivasan, about the new strategies campaigns are using to target hard-to-reach voters online (launches Oct. 22 in COVE and at
  • A special interactive online feature allowing viewers to see how campaigns might be targeting them (launches Oct. 22 at  
  • Two news segments drawn from the web report that will air Oct. 29 and 30 on PBS’s NewsHour
  • A special interactive viewing guide, with commentary from Kai Ryssdal, available on starting Oct. 29
  • A complementary print investigation produced by ProPublica to be published Oct. 30

Marketplace host and FRONTLINE correspondent Kai Ryssdal is available for select media appearances to discuss his reporting in Big Sky, Big Money. Contact or

Linda Winslow, executive producer of PBS’s NewsHour, says: “We are thrilled to be part of this very important collaborative effort to reach the people who rely on noncommercial news media to explain the most important stories of the day. Billions of dollars have been spent on this year’s election campaigns; it is important that our audience understands what that money is buying.”

FRONTLINE’s Aronson-Rath adds: “At a time when investigative journalism is on the decline, no one but public media could examine this issue in such depth and across so many media platforms to reach as wide an audience as possible.” 

Big Sky, Big Money is a FRONTLINE production with American University’s School of Communications Investigative Reporting Workshop and American Public Media’s Marketplace. The producer is Rick Young. The correspondent is Kai Ryssdal. The Digital Campaign is a FRONTLINE production with Left/Right Docs. Ryan Miller is the producer. Frank Koughan is the writer. The correspondent is Hari Sreenivasan.

FRONTLINE is produced by WGBH Boston and is broadcast nationwide on PBS. Funding for FRONTLINE is provided through the support of PBS viewers and by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Major funding for FRONTLINE is provided by The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. Additional funding is provided by the Park Foundation and by the FRONTLINE Journalism Fund. FRONTLINE is closed-captioned for deaf and hard-of-hearing viewers by the Media Access Group at WGBH. FRONTLINE is a registered trademark of the WGBH Educational Foundation.

Media Contact:
Diane Hebert-Farrell

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