Raiding the Lost Ark:
The Golden Age of
TV News Documentary

The University of Delaware
Department of Communication

(In the course registration book: "Hist TV News Documentary")

Ye Olde Film & TV
Spring, 2003

Professor Ralph J. Begleiter

burstCalendar of documentaries

Monday 3:35pm-6:35pm

Comments from students

037 Memorial Hall (media theater)

Updated 2-7-2003

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Television viewers today are rarely treated to the kind of investigative and influential TV news documentaries that were staples of network programming in the 1960's and 1970's. The best of those programs exposed political and social problems to a mass audience, and often had powerful influences at the national level. This course excavates some of the best of this "lost ark" of television documentaries to discover why they were made, why they were influential and why they're no longer on today's broadcasting agenda.
Students should expect in this course an interdisciplinary mixture of history, political science, journalism and communication.
Assignments may include (but are not limited to) viewing some programs outside class time, purchasing and reading the course packet, and several analytical papers based on readings, viewings and class discussion.
Discussion is expected of students in this class.

From the Students

• "Documentaries of the Lost Ark kind can only be made at a certain moment in history. All of the films we had the pleasure of seeing were pieces of American history that many of us missed by a generation." (Spring, 2001)
• "Pensions: The Broken Promise was… the first time I had to hold back tears in any class I have ever taken in my entire life. This, to me, was the sign of a good documentary." (Spring, 2001)
• "Through viewing these documentaries, we have been able to witness the changing face of television, and hopefully it has also helped to make us aware of ways in which television may change in the future, reflecting the changing attitudes and priorities of society." (Spring, 2001)
• "Although many of the social and political events providing the substance for these programs occurred before I was even born, I still found most of the shows moving and impressive. These programs taught me a lot about issues I had never devoted attention to before… Broadcasts such as Titicut Follies and Night and Fog have impacted me more than programs such as Survivor or Friends ever could." (Spring, 2001)
• "There is little incentive to produce unprofitable and controversial documentaries scrutinizing the government when other subsidiaries under the large parent company depend on favorable government policies to enhance profits." (Spring, 2001)

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"Selling of the Pentagon" - 1972