Documentaries I Like: Frontline

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Frontline screenshotFrontline is a PBS documentary series that has consistently offered the best reporting on a huge range of topics for over 25 years. Since 1983, Frontline has produced more than 480 documentaries on everything from politics to religion to personal finance. I can enthusiastically say Frontline produces documentaries I like, though I will caution that their war coverage in recent years has been so grim that it's often hard to watch.

Starting in 1995, Frontline took much of its programming online, producing in-depth websites as companion pieces to the televised documentaries. You can watch tons of Frontline programs in high-quality streaming video online -- for free! (Go PBS.) Go check out the Frontline archives, or pick one of my favorites:

A Class Divided (1985)

One day in 1968, Jane Elliott, a teacher in a small, all-white Iowa town, divided her third-grade class into blue-eyed and brown-eyed groups and gave them a daring lesson in discrimination. This is the story of that lesson, its lasting impact on the children, and its enduring power thirty years later.

Read more about A Class Divided or just dive in and watch it.

HEAT (2008)

A global investigation into one of the greatest crises that mankind has ever faced -- Can we roll back global warming?

Melting glaciers, rising sea levels, fires, floods and droughts. On the eve of a historic election, award-winning producer and correspondent Martin Smith investigates how the world's largest corporations and governments are responding to Earth's looming environmental disaster.

"I have reported on the Cold War, the breakup of the Soviet Union, the rise of Al Qaeda, and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan," says Smith. "But nothing matches climate change in scope and severity."

Read more about HEAT or watch it.

Secret History of the Credit Card (2004)

In "Secret History of the Credit Card," FRONTLINE and The New York Times join forces to investigate an industry few Americans fully understand. In this one-hour report, correspondent Lowell Bergman uncovers the techniques used by the industry to earn record profits and get consumers to take on more debt.

"The almost magical convenience of plastic money is critical to our famously compulsive consumer economy," Bergman says. "With more than 641 million credit cards in circulation and accounting for an estimated $1.5 trillion of consumer spending, the U.S. economy has clearly gone plastic."

Read more about Secret History of the Credit Card or watch it.

Do you have a favorite (or least favorite) Frontline program? Share it in the comments!

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January 23, 2009 - 5:22am
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