Retro Report

Retro Report Revealing the stories of our past to understand today. How often does a great story dominate the headlines, only to be dropped from the news cycle?

How often do journalists tell us of a looming danger or important discovery – only to move quickly to the next new thing? What really happened? How did these events change us? And what are the lingering consequences that may affect our society to this day? These are the questions we are answering at Retro Report, an innovative documentary news organization launched in 2013 as a timely online counterweight to today's 24/7 news cycle. Combining documentary techniques with shoe-leather reporting, we peel back the layers of some of the most perplexing news stories of our past with the goal of encouraging the public to think more critically about current events and the media. Retro Report is founded on the conviction that without a smart, engaging and forward-looking review of these high-profile events – and the news coverage surrounding them – we have wasted an opportunity to understand the lessons of history. The accelerating information age makes reversing this trend only more crucial. With journalistic success increasingly measured in page views, retweets and Facebook likes, there is dwindling interest or ability among news organizations to follow up on the stories they cover. Complicating matters, the first draft of history can be wrong. When news organizations fail to invest the time and money required to correct the record or provide context around what really happened, myth can replace truth. The results are policy decisions and cultural trends built on error, misunderstanding or flat-out lies. Retro Report is there to pick up the story after everyone has moved on, connecting the dots from yesterday to today, correcting the record and providing a permanent living library where viewers can gain new insight into the events that shaped their lives.

Mission: Combining documentary techniques with shoe-leather reporting, we peel back the layers of some of the most perplexing news stories of our past with the goal of encouraging the public to think more critically about current events and the media.

Operating as usual

Are you a teacher trying to help students understand the election? Or maybe you just want to learn more about history? C...
11/07/2020
Retro Report for High School Teachers/Educators | Retro Report

Are you a teacher trying to help students understand the election? Or maybe you just want to learn more about history? Check out engaging videos and lesson plans at Retro Report in the Classroom!

Bring history to life for your students! Retro Report is building a free, easy-to-use education site for high school teachers and college professors based on our archive of 200+ short documentaries. Each lesson plan includes an engaging 10-15 minute video that connects a chapter from history to stud...

“Republican Latinos have existed since the Eisenhower years.” The history behind the so-called Latino vote, and why the ...
11/07/2020
Can We PLEASE Stop Talking About the ‘Latino Vote’

“Republican Latinos have existed since the Eisenhower years.” The history behind the so-called Latino vote, and why the term should be abolished, via GEN @Medium.

There is no such thing. For the sake of democracy, let’s be more specific.

11/07/2020
Poll Watchers and the Long History of Voter Intimidation | Retro Report

Yesterday, armed demonstrators gathered outside a ballot counting site in Phoenix. Voter intimidation has a long history in the United States. Watch our new collaboration with The New Yorker.

Poll watchers – observers who can report voting problems to local officials – operate under strict rules. President Trump’s call for his supporters to guard ...

Trusted journalism like ours has never mattered more. Give today so we can continue this important work. #ContextMatters...
11/06/2020

Trusted journalism like ours has never mattered more.

Give today so we can continue this important work. #ContextMatters #NewsMatch
retroreport.org/donate/

11/04/2020
How Black Women Fought Racism and Sexism for the Right to Vote | Retro Report

This election, there were long lines at polling places, uncertainty over ballots and late-night arguments over whether votes will count.

Access to the vote has been one of the defining struggles of US history.

Long after the 19th Amendment passed, Black women continue their fight for the right to vote. Subscribe to our newsletter for the history behind the headline...

Concession speeches are not a legal or constitutional requirement. They began in 1896 as a courtesy, with a telegram fro...
11/04/2020
How To Lose An Election: A Brief History Of The Presidential Concession Speech

Concession speeches are not a legal or constitutional requirement. They began in 1896 as a courtesy, with a telegram from William Jennings Bryan to his opponent, William McKinley. Via NPR.

There's no legal or constitutional requirement that the loser of a U.S. presidential election must concede. But the public concession speech is an important tradition, perhaps now more than ever.

11/03/2020
Poll Watchers and the Long History of Voter Intimidation | Retro Report

𝐍𝐄𝐖! There is a long history in the U.S. of poll watchers and poll intimidation.

Poll watchers – observers who can report voting problems to local officials – operate under strict rules. But President Trump’s call for his supporters to guard polling places during this election has raised concerns about the potential for voter intimidation.

This new Retro Report, presented with The New Yorker, was supported by the Economic Hardship Reporting Project.

📣 Perhaps no moment better underscores the value of reliable, transparent journalism like ours than Election Day. Today ...
11/03/2020
Support Retro Report | Retro Report

📣 Perhaps no moment better underscores the value of reliable, transparent journalism like ours than Election Day. Today is more than the end of the presidential race. Our future is​ at stake, and the health of our democracy depends on an informed electorate.

That’s why we’re asking our viewers to cast their support for journalism that strengthens democracy by making a donation to Retro Report​ today. From now through Dec. 31, NewsMatch will match every new monthly donation 12 times, and double your one-time donation up to $5,000.

Invest in journalism for the people, with the people.

Please donate today by clicking on the button Donate or go to www.retroreport.org/donate.

Retro Report’s short documentaries focus on the vital history needed to better understand the biggest issues affecting your life today.

11/03/2020
Bush v. Gore: How a Recount Dispute Affects Voting Today | Retro Report

Election day is around the corner! However, with a record number of people voting by mail, pundits are predicting that the final results may not reflect the numbers on election night. That happened twenty years ago and the Supreme Court decision known as Bush v. Gore decided the presidential election. Here is our #LessonFromHistory

This video is part of our living library and has been updated to reflect the 2020 election. The dramatic controversy surrounding the 2000 presidential electi...

The time is now. Trusted journalism like ours has never mattered more. Please give today to double the impact of your do...
11/02/2020

The time is now. Trusted journalism like ours has never mattered more. Please give today to double the impact of your donation.

We’re participating in #NewsMatch—a national matching-gift campaign that drives donations to nonprofit news organizations (like us!) around the country. Now thru Dec. 31, NewsMatch will match your Retro Report gift, up to $5,000! #ContextMatters #NewsMatch

Give: https://www.retroreport.org/donate/

11/02/2020
Enemies of the People: Trump and the Political Press

Donald Trump’s tumultuous relationship with reporters was a defining theme of his run for the presidency. We asked the reporters who covered the campaign to assess their role in his rise to power. Watch our documentary, released in partnership with VICE News.

The nation’s leading reporters and media figures who covered Trump’s 2016 campaign offer a candid analysis of their role and mistakes in the 2016 election. E...

Ballot security or voter intimidation? Learn the difference (and the history) in a new Retro Report released in collabor...
11/02/2020
Poll Watchers and the Long History of Voter Intimidation | Retro Report - YouTube

Ballot security or voter intimidation? Learn the difference (and the history) in a new Retro Report released in collaboration with The New Yorker and the Economic Hardship Reporting Project.

Poll watchers – observers who can report voting problems to local officials – operate under strict rules. President Trump’s call for his supporters to guard pol...

We’re excited to share that starting today we’re participating in #NewsMatch—a national matching-gift campaign that driv...
11/01/2020
Support Retro Report | Retro Report

We’re excited to share that starting today we’re participating in #NewsMatch—a national matching-gift campaign that drives donations to nonprofit news organizations (like us!) around the country. Now thru Dec. 31, NewsMatch will match your Retro Report gift, up to $5,000!

Trusted journalism like ours has never mattered more. Please give today to double the impact of your donation.

Give: https://www.retroreport.org/donate/

#ContextMatters #NewsMatch

Retro Report’s short documentaries focus on the vital history needed to better understand the biggest issues affecting your life today.

Lessons not learned from 2016 -- Stanford’s Cable News TV Analyzer shows President Trump coverage about twice that of Jo...
10/31/2020
Stanford Cable TV News Analyzer

Lessons not learned from 2016 -- Stanford’s Cable News TV Analyzer shows President Trump coverage about twice that of Joe Biden this month.

Measure who is on screen and what is said on cable TV news.

It’s Media Literacy Week! Did you know that teenagers consider the opinions of influencers as trustworthy as those of ne...
10/30/2020
Lesson Plan: Journalism and Media Literacy: McDonald’s Hot Coffee | Retro Report

It’s Media Literacy Week! Did you know that teenagers consider the opinions of influencers as trustworthy as those of news organizations? Use our video and lesson plan to foster media literacy skills at home or in your classroom.

Students will learn how an attention-grabbing news story can easily be misunderstood, resulting in a false narrative that becomes deeply ingrained in the national culture. Journalism students will learn the importance of providing context.

10/28/2020
Political reporters admit mistakes in their reporting on the 2016 election

In this excerpt from our latest documentary ENEMIES OF THE PEOPLE, top national political reporters admit mistakes in their reporting on the 2016 election, from inaccurate polling to a misunderstanding of the political sentiments of large swaths of American voters. This documentary was produced in collaboration with VICE TV. Watch it in its entirety here: youtu.be/Wa85N6c28n8.

10/28/2020
The Domestic Violence Case That Turned Outrage Into Action | Retro Report

We won the Editor Publisher's 2020 Eppy award for our video on domestic violence! The trial of Francine Hughes in 1977 redefined Americans’ understanding of domestic abuse. Watch our story produced in collaboration with The New Yorker 🏆

The "Burning Bed" case - when a woman killed her abusive husband - made headlines in the 1970s and caused a national outcry. Today, despite stronger protecti...

How is it that the highest office in the land - the US presidency - is one where the person who gets the most votes can ...
10/27/2020
Thread by @RetroReport on Thread Reader App

How is it that the highest office in the land - the US presidency - is one where the person who gets the most votes can still lose the election? 50 years ago, Congress came close to changing that. Why did the effort fail?

Thread by @RetroReport: 1/8 How is it that the highest office in the land - the US presidency - is one where the person who gets the most votes can still lose the election? 50 years...

10/27/2020
Lingering Peril From Lead Paint | Retro Report on PBS

A new analysis by THE CITY NY estimates that the number of public housing apartments in New York where children are potentially exposed to lead poisoning is close to 20,000.

About half a million children, disproportionately children of color, have dangerously high lead levels in their blood, mostly from exposure to peeling paint and contaminated dust. The fight over who should clean it up has lasted for decades.

About half a million children – disproportionately children of color -- have dangerously high lead levels in their blood, mostly from exposure to peeling pai...

10/26/2020
Enemies of the People: Trump and the Political Press

Columbia Journalism Review just released a report outlining how the press has covered Trump since his inauguration in 2017. (A perfect companion piece to our newest doc with VICE, which you can watch here: https://youtu.be/Wa85N6c28n8)

The nation’s leading reporters and media figures who covered Trump’s 2016 campaign offer a candid analysis of their role and mistakes in the 2016 election. E...

Drug maker Purdue Pharma reached an $8 billion settlement today for its role in the opioid epidemic. We handled this epi...
10/24/2020
How Heroin Addiction's Rural Spread Changed the War on Drugs | Retro Report

Drug maker Purdue Pharma reached an $8 billion settlement today for its role in the opioid epidemic. We handled this epidemic so differently than the last one, especially around race. Retro Report explains.

From time to time over the past 40 years, efforts were made to treat heroin addiction as a public health instead of a crime problem. But they were not successful.

Last week, officials at the Brooklyn Housing Court arrived in the morning to find the entrance sealed off and padlocked ...
10/23/2020
Tenants Facing Eviction Over Covid-19 Look to a 1970s Solution | Retro Report

Last week, officials at the Brooklyn Housing Court arrived in the morning to find the entrance sealed off and padlocked by activists protesting evictions during the pandemic. An idea from the 70s might offer renters a less confrontational option.

This story was produced in collaboration with the Economic Hardship Reporting Project and is being published in partnership with The New York Times. It is th...

10/23/2020
Rehab Rarely Works for Opioid Addicts. Could a Vaccine? | Retro Report

Despite less coverage this year, the opioid epidemic didn’t go anywhere. Overdose deaths have gone up since the start of the pandemic. Could new ways of treating addiction help save lives?

Overdose deaths are skyrocketing, forcing researchers to find new ways to think about and treat addiction. CONNECT WITH RETRO REPORT Newsletter: https://www....

Frank M. Snowden, a historian at Yale University discusses the politics of restricting travel during epidemics, how inhu...
10/22/2020
How Pandemics Change History

Frank M. Snowden, a historian at Yale University discusses the politics of restricting travel during epidemics, how inhumane responses to sickness have upended governments, and how artists have reacted to disease outbreaks.

The historian Frank M. Snowden discusses the politics of restricting travel during epidemics, how inhumane responses to sickness have upended governments, and how artists have reacted to disease outbreaks.

10/21/2020
Enemies of the People: Trump and the Political Press

Donald Trump’s tumultuous relationship with reporters was a defining theme of his run for the presidency. Retro Report asked the reporters who covered the campaign to assess their role in his rise to power.

Watch our film on VICE News YouTube.

The nation’s leading reporters and media figures who covered Trump’s 2016 campaign offer a candid analysis of their role and mistakes in the 2016 election. E...

The idea of what a documentary is has shifted according to what has — and hasn’t — been possible during the past 100 yea...
10/20/2020
Sixty-two of the Best Documentaries of All Time

The idea of what a documentary is has shifted according to what has — and hasn’t — been possible during the past 100 years.

A collection by Richard Brody, film critic of the New Yorker, of 62 of the best documentaries of all time.

The idea of what a documentary is has shifted according to what has—and hasn’t—been possible during the past hundred years. But the artistic preoccupations of their creators have not changed radically in that time.

Facebook is banning ads discouraging vaccinations and promoting vaccine facts. Unfounded #antivaxxer notions sprang from...
10/20/2020
How Fear of the Measles Vaccine Took Hold | Retro Report

Facebook is banning ads discouraging vaccinations and promoting vaccine facts. Unfounded #antivaxxer notions sprang from a discredited study that falsely linked the MMR vaccine and autism.

Skepticism and fear surrounding vaccines were fed by a flawed study done in 1998 linking the MMR vaccine to autism. The study was quickly discredited, we’re still dealing with the repercussions.

10/19/2020
Future of Home | What Happens Next | Retro Report

Solar photovoltaics are now cheaper than plants fired by coal and natural gas in most nations, and renewables could have 80% of the market for new power generation by 2030, energy researchers found.

We looked at why shifting to solar power is the future.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BnQ0FEZHajI

Guatemalan homesteaders and a Michigan contractor are riding a wave that could change how our lives are wired. "What Happens Next" is a collaboration with Qu...

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Our Story

Retro Report is an Emmy Award-winning independent, objective, nonprofit news organization founded in 2013. We are dedicated to uncovering the surprising ways that news of the past continues to resonate today. Our documentary videos blend investigative reporting and rare archival footage to give viewers meaningful context and perspective on current events.

We operate with the conviction that an engaging and forward-looking review of high-profile events, and the news coverage surrounding them, is critical to understanding the lessons of history and developing robust civic literacy. And, since the stories we report on continue to evolve, we are committed to providing a permanent, living library where each story is tracked and updated so that viewers can gain new insights as events develop and history unfolds.

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Comments

Why is Retro Report not on tonight? Love this show!
Great series! Thank you PBS!
Love Retro Report but Andy Borowitz will more than likely cause us to stop tuning in. Sorry about that.
I really, really, really like this show!
yea..done watching this completely crap "reporting" ..show full of inconsistancies & false statements..things brought up & never concluded & completely biased & unscientific people consulted reporting on science... in the episode about vaccines.. ..more like playing on public ignorance & fear! if this were a real investigative show about vaccines it would not have JUST repeatedly talked about false beliefs in vaccine dangers..it would have ALSO AT LEAST , MENTIONED THE KNOWN FACTS ABOUT ACTUAL VACCINE DAMAGES & DEATHS..which..when utvs nit your child/family member..it's "acceptible losses" this bullsh*t show regurgitated the same rhetoric claiming it's science & completely failed to do anything like science..or journalism... the lady who's whooping cough vaccine wore off & her newborn died..had zero to do with the false belief in herd immunity....no mention how most sheeple aduts who buy the herd iminity myth aren't even fking vaccinated..aren't up to date with boosters... the "rare" vaccine injuries & deaths weren't even mentioned andrew Wakefield was later exonerated & awarded in court for blasphemous sh*t he went through for speakinh up about the dangers of vaccones the actress who was shown has been on numerous other shows giving rational & gactual information but the one early on in her son's case where she is emotional saying "he is my science" is shown the theory of vaccines is great the FACTS about vaccines include RISKS & deaths & PERMANENT damage we dont even know about yet..AND they also include money & politics & playing on ignorance & fear of the masses... do some fking RESEARCH.. research your car? your home? your schools? food? but nit what u inject into babies from a multi trillion dollar industry? o..& ZERO mention of the mutated & nee strains created BY VACCINES..or the fact that skme SHED for weeks..or the fact that ppl OFTEN get the diseases either FROM THE VACCINE..or despite having the vaccine!!! this show is crap check out physicians for informed concent for a start
LOVE. Very intelligent, fascinating show.
Just found and watched the Retro Report. It's great. My new favorite show on TV. Keep up the good work!
Caught this show last night by accident and I highly recommend!
ugh x 10 spare me please !!
I wish PBS would do something Retrospective like this for my favorite Gwen Ifill - "Washington Weakened Review"..
Google John Stossel DDT. Stossel reported on the bad science that led to the ban of DDT. That ban led to the deaths of thousands from malaria. I think it can be compared to all the global warming bad science.
This is so cool!!! Peter McConnell