Friday, March 14, 2008
Reviewing Recent History: Frontline Onliine
We don't have a TV in England (it's expensive, about $300 US just to by the government license that allows you to have a TV for a year). Fortunately the web has gotten to the point where it can provide information and entertainment on almost the same level.
Lately, I've been catching up on years of "Frontline", the PBS documentary show. One of beauties of "Frontline" springs simply from it's depth of focus. Unlike other news magazine shows, which spend a hour on four or five stories (not to mention the commercial breaks), "Frontline" devotes a full hour to one story.
This myopic focus allows them to trace a complex story thread, step by step, in a way that the viewer can follow and understand.
In addition, Frontline posts volumes of additional information and interviews on line...making it possible to delve deeply into the story- or sometimes beyond the narrative being focused on and into a separate but parallel lines of inquiry.
After broadcast, the shows are posted on line, where they can continue to be watched and used, rather than fading into the ether that is "yesterday's news".
This is probably the most important service the PBS program provides. Because it is often by going back and reading "yesterday's news" that we are able to get a clear grip on what is happening in our world today.
It is important to read "today's news" of course, but when we go back two, three, four years- we are often able to see in disparate events, which seem somewhat random at the time, a pattern which we did not fully recognize as it was unfolding.
I've been spending my last few evenings watching Frontline's reports about the War in Iraq- and I highly recommend them to anyone who can carve out a little time over the next few weeks
- instead of turning on "American Idol" or whatever is on tonight, pull up a chair next to your computer and spend an hour- the picture will be a lot smaller, but the sound is good, and you'll find yourself rivited by TV that feeds you mind rather than sucks it dry.
The shows that I've seen so far are here: