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Second Tuesdays at SOC: PBS Frontline

Flying Cheap is a documentary on the safety of regional air carriers by PBS Frontline and Investigative Reporting Workshop at the American University School of Communication

September 14, 2010

Meet PBS FRONTLINE Producer Rick Young and Investigative Reporting Workshop Sr. Editor Mishi Ebrahim for a Behind-The-Scenes Look at Television’s Most Successful Documentary Program

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Meet PBS FRONTLINE producer Rick Young and Investigative Reporting Workshop senior editor Mishi Ebrahim for a behind-the-scenes look at television’s most successful documentary program and its new partnership with American University at SOC’s first Brown Bag Luncheon Tuesday, September 14, 2010 at 12:30PM in MGC 203. It’s FREE – BYOB (bring your own brown bag lunch).

Young and Ebrahim will talk about the work behind the most in-depth investigative reporting on TV - located just down the street on New Mexico Ave. - and how it's pairing with AU to expand its research & reporting. They'll talk about the investigative documentaries in the works and how the group is working on inventive models to create sustainable and engaging investigative reporting for both TV and online.

Since 1983, FRONTLINE has served as American public television's flagship public affairs series. Hailed upon its debut on PBS as "the last best hope for broadcast documentaries," FRONTLINE's stature over 28 seasons is reaffirmed each week through incisive documentaries covering the scope and complexity of the human experience. When FRONTLINE was born, however, the prospects for television news documentaries looked grim. Pressure was on network news departments to become profitable, and the spirit of outspoken journalistic inquiry established by programs like Edward R. Murrow's See It Now and Harvest of Shame had given way to entertainment values and feature-filled magazine shows. Therefore, it fell to public television to pick up the torch of public affairs and carry on this well-established broadcast news tradition.

Since its inception, FRONTLINE has never shied away from tough, controversial issues or complex stories. In an age of anchor celebrities and snappy sound bites, FRONTLINE remains committed to providing a primetime venue for engaging documentaries that fully explore and illuminate the critical issues of our times. FRONTLINE remains the only regularly scheduled long-form public affairs documentary series on American television, producing more hours of documentary programming than all the commercial networks combined.

The Investigative Reporting Workshop, a nonprofit based at AU, began publishing original national and international reporting projects in the Spring of 2009. The model for the Investigative Reporting Workshop is the Children's Television Workshop, which originally was created to produce Sesame Street, but became an incubator and innovator for much of educational television.

Rick Young has been working with FRONTLINE since the early '90s, reporting on a wide array of subjects -- from the environment to politics to business -- for more than 20 PBS documentaries. In 2009, Young launched a production partnership between FRONTLINE and the Investigative Reporting Workshop at The American University.  The venture's first co-production, Flying Cheap, was an investigation of the regional airline industry. He was a John S. Knight Journalism Fellow at Stanford University in 2007-08 and his work has garnered numerous awards, including two Emmys, Writer's Guild nominations and the Sigma Delta Chi award. Before turning to journalism, Young spent six years as an investigator for the U.S. House of Representatives

Margaret Ebrahim is a senior editor at the Investigative Reporting Workshop.  She was a producer for the CBS News program 60 Minutes II and the ABC News Brian Ross investigative unit.  She also produced documentaries for the HDNet news and documentary program Dan Rather Reports, and she was a reporter on the multimedia investigative unit at the Associated Press. While Ebrahim pursued a Masters of Arts in U.S. Foreign Policy at American University, she helped to build one of the nation’s first non-profit, investigative journalism groups, the Center for Public Integrity, alongside the organization’s founder Charles Lewis, who now leads the Investigative Reporting Workshop.  Ebrahim graduated from Tulane University in New Orleans with a Bachelor’s degree in both Latin American Studies and Spanish.

AU’s Brown Bag lunch series includes presentations about work in progress at the School of Communication on the second Tuesday of every month.  For more information, contact Adell Crowe at 202-885-2220 or crowe@american.edu