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.

11/19/2019
Do Whistleblower Protections Work? Ask This One.

During the impeachment hearing today Rep. Devin Nunes tried to get Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman to reveal the identity of the whistleblower. So far we don't know his identity, but the story of Thomas Drake gives us an idea of what may be in store for him. #whistleblower #impeachment #impeachmenthearings

https://youtu.be/vaFH12GlEW0

A new drug is being developed to help people with dwarfism grow taller. Some see it as a win, while others believes dwar...
11/19/2019
Genetic Screening: Controlling Heredity | Retro Report

A new drug is being developed to help people with dwarfism grow taller. Some see it as a win, while others believes dwarfism should be celebrated rather than fixed. (via STAT)

We explored this concept as it pertains to prenatal genetic screening -- highlighting the question of what's “a disease” versus “a difference.” https://www.retroreport.org/video/genetic-screening-controlling-heredity/

With every new advance in prenatal genetic screening, the ability to prevent suffering has also sparked difficult questions about what should count as “a disease” versus “a difference,” and whether we’re in danger of wiping out certain segments of the population. This story was produced in...

Help us make more stories that uncover the history behind the headlines. As part of a national matching-gift campaign fo...
11/18/2019
Support Retro Report | Retro Report

Help us make more stories that uncover the history behind the headlines.

As part of a national matching-gift campaign for nonprofit newsrooms, @NewsMatch will double any donation you make to @RetroReport through the end of 2019. 🙌

Donate here: https://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.

Retro Report producer Matt Spolar was thrilled to join (L-R) former NBA star Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf, 2019 Pan American Games...
11/14/2019

Retro Report producer Matt Spolar was thrilled to join (L-R) former NBA star Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf, 2019 Pan American Games gold medalist and activist Gwendolyn Berry, and Penn State Assistant Professor of History Amira Rose Davis for the latest in WVIA-TV (Scranton) and Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania's Conversations for the Common Good series. The event—Sports, Race and Protest: A Community Conversation—also featured a screening of the Retro Report on PBS piece “Athletes vs. Injustice: Protests in Sports”.

Watch the story here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AOknbaklMHg

11/12/2019
11/08/2019
AIDS: From Ryan White to Today's Silent Epidemic | Retro Report on PBS

The Trump Administration is suing Gilead, a manufacturer of H.I.V.-prevention drugs, for earning billions off of taxpayer research without paying royalties.

We recently looked at AIDS, from Ryan White on through to today's silent epidemic. #RetroReportPBS

https://youtu.be/z6Anrlva1HI

Rates of H.I.V. infection have fallen in many places, but the AIDS crisis persists in some parts of the country. What can be learned from history – and speci...

11/06/2019
LSD Gets Another Look | Retro Report on PBS

LSD has typically been associated with 1960s counterculture, but it was being studied as a treatment in psychiatry long before it hit the streets.

Today, psychedelic drugs are back in the lab, providing hope for people who suffer from anxiety, depression, and even addiction.

Catch up on full episodes of Retro Report on PBS at pbs.org/retroreport. #RetroReportPBS

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rVYL7rklDL8

LSD has long been associated with 1960s counterculture. Today, psychedelic drugs are back in the lab, providing hope for people who suffer from anxiety, depr...

11/05/2019
She Rocked the Pentagon | Retro Report on PBS

Today, women in the military are driving tanks, firing mortars and leading infantry soldiers into battle. They can join the ranks of the Army Rangers, Green Berets, Navy SEALS, and more roles previously open only to men. Much of the credit for this progress goes to one officer, Paula Coughlin, who launched a campaign to change military culture after a sexual assault scandal at the 1991 Tailhook convention rocked the Navy.

A story from #RetroReportPBS.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3RftOdLnQQI

After a sexual assault scandal at the Tailhook convention rocked the Navy in 1991, one female officer, Paula Coughlin, launched a campaign to change military...

#Factchecking is a huge part of our non-profit mission.Last Friday, our fact-checker, Joseph Hogan, spoke at WNET about ...
11/05/2019

#Factchecking is a huge part of our non-profit mission.

Last Friday, our fact-checker, Joseph Hogan, spoke at WNET about our unique fact-checking process, how facts can help stop the spread of myths and why some statistics go viral despite their inaccuracies. (One pretty incredible example of this is a 1986 Newsweek cover story that stated it was more likely for white, college-educated women in their 40s to get killed by a terrorist than get married!!!)

Until the end of 2019, any donation you make to Retro Report will be doubled by NewsMatch! 🙌Your support lets us prod...
11/04/2019

Until the end of 2019, any donation you make to Retro Report will be doubled by NewsMatch! 🙌

Your support lets us produce videos that uncover the history behind today’s headlines.

Donate here: https://www.retroreport.org/donate/

11/04/2019
Retro Report | Hard Risks for Athletes | PBS

As concussions plague football, are there lessons from earlier concerns about boxing?

Stream full episodes or individual stories of Retro Report on PBS on pbs.org/retroreport or the PBS Video app. #RetroReportPBS

Apple TV+ hits today, in the next escalation of the "Streaming Wars" that are shaking up the entertainment industry—an...
11/01/2019
From Napster to Netflix: The History and Impact of Streaming Services | Retro Report

Apple TV+ hits today, in the next escalation of the "Streaming Wars" that are shaking up the entertainment industry—and our methods of consuming content. The explosion of Netflix is often credited with this paradigm shift, but it really traces back to an infamous file-sharing software from two decades ago that college kids used to download Blink-182 albums: Napster.

https://www.retroreport.org/video/napster-culture-of-free/

After Napster, many consumers got used to entertainment on demand. There was no turning back.

Thanks to everyone who tuned in on Mondays and Tuesdays over the last four weeks to explore the history behind the headl...
10/30/2019
Retro Report on PBS | PBS

Thanks to everyone who tuned in on Mondays and Tuesdays over the last four weeks to explore the history behind the headlines with us. We're so grateful to PBS for allowing us to bring the Retro Report mission to their stations. And a big shoutout to our hosts Celeste Headlee and Masud Olufani for steering each episode along, as well as the great Andy Borowitz for capping off each episode with some historical humor.

If you missed any of the show, catch up at pbs.org/retroreport or the PBS Video app.

You can also head to retroreport.org and the Retro YouTube channel for individual stories, Andy's Now It All Makes Sense segments, bonus clips, and more! #RetroReportPBS

Watch Retro Report on PBS videos on demand. Stream full episodes online.

Retro’s Kyra Darnton and Matt Spolar stopped by Viacom to talk about our story on how Napster disrupted the music indu...
10/29/2019

Retro’s Kyra Darnton and Matt Spolar stopped by Viacom to talk about our story on how Napster disrupted the music industry and shaped how we consume entertainment today. They also introduced our Instagram story collaboration with @ReLive.it on Joel Tenenbaum, who was sued by the Recording Industry Association of America for sharing music files in the early 2000s. Head over to the @ReLive.it Instagram page to see how Joel’s saga unfolded, and look out for the piece on our IG (@retroreport) in the coming days.

Check out the season finale of Retro Report on PBS tonight at 9/8c for the full story on the evolution of streaming—from Napster to Netflix. #RetroReportPBS

10/29/2019
Retro Report | Episode 8 Preview | PBS

On tonight's SEASON FINALE(!) of Retro Report on PBS:

A decades-old battle over how sex is taught in schools. Why states are reconsidering life sentences of people convicted as juveniles. How the AIDS crisis is still affecting some parts of the country. And, Napster shook up the record industry and shaped how we consume entertainment in the streaming era. Plus, Andy Borowitz tackles bullying on TV.

Tune in at 9/8c or stream on pbs.org/retroreport. #RetroReportPBS

10/28/2019
Retro Report on PBS is back tonight!

On TONIGHT'S ALL NEW Retro Report on PBS:

How current immigration controversies echo past anti-immigration backlash, a misunderstood lawsuit over McDonald’s coffee, the origins of Special Ops forces, and the regrettable decisions that led to the Challenger disaster. Plus, Andy Borowitz examines Anita Bryant’s unintended influence.

Join us to explore the history behind the headlines at 9/8c or stream at pbs.org/retroreport or the PBS Video app. #RetroReportPBS

In the latest Retro Report newsletter,-Clyde Haberman writes on the grim legacy of lead exposure and why it still affect...
10/24/2019

In the latest Retro Report newsletter,

-Clyde Haberman writes on the grim legacy of lead exposure and why it still affects so many children today.

-Andy Borowitz investigates why America’s water supply seems to keep bursting into flames

-A Daily Show producer on bringing comedy to Retro (thanks, Sara!)

-A sneak peek of episode 7 of #RetroReportPBS (Tune in Monday at 9/8c!)

-Retro Report Recommends for your weekend historical context

Subscribe here for all that, and more! https://mailchi.mp/retroreport/lead-toxic-legacy?e=bd4162aa09

10/24/2019
Retro Report | Hard Risks for Athletes | PBS

From the latest #RetroReportPBS: As concussions plague football, are there lessons from earlier concerns about boxing?

Stream or watch full episodes o Retro Report on PBS on pbs.org/retroreport or the PBS Video app.

10/24/2019
Retro Report | Hard Risks for Athletes | PBS

From the latest #RetroReportPBS: As concussions plague football, are there lessons from earlier concerns about boxing?

Stream or watch full episodes o Retro Report on PBS on pbs.org/retroreport or the PBS Video app.

10/22/2019

Tonight on Retro Report on PBS, revisit the life and legacy of David Vetter, aka “the boy in the bubble”, and his story’s impact on how newborns today are tested for rare genetic and immune disorders that might not be apparent at birth. #RetroReportPBS

10/22/2019
Andy Borowitz: Smoke on the Water | Now It All Makes Sense

In his latest Now It All Makes Sense, Andy Borowitz looks at his hometown of Cleveland's Cuyahoga River to investigate why America’s water supply seems to keep bursting into flames. #RetroReportPBS

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TLm4lUC2qw0&list=PLKB8zkQFlMyKFF0LwIY4NGEMsR7pEzZZV

New Yorker magazine humorist Andy Borowitz investigates why America’s water supply seems to keep bursting into flames. His recurring #NowItAllMakesSense segm...

10/18/2019
Retro Report | The Modern Bystander Effect | PBS

In this story from our new show,"Retro Report on PBS," we explore why crime witnesses fail to intervene, also known as the bystander effect.

Catch more episodes Mondays and Tuesdays at 9pm throughout the month of October. Stream or watch full episodes now on the PBS Video app! #RetroReportPBS

10/17/2019
Gaming Rules Entertainment, but Are We the Ones Being Played? | Retro Report

We're so thrilled that "Future of Gaming," released in collaboration with Quartz and produced by Jacob Templin and Erik German, won the RTDNA Edward R. Murrow Award for best Feature Reporting!

Check out the award winning piece here: https://youtu.be/lyNnwtDMO40

Gaming is the world's most dominant form of entertainment, and developers increasingly track player behavior to tailor experiences to keep users playing long...

Stream the latest episode of Retro Report on PBS! We look at presidents and the press, the origins of vaccine anxiety, a...
10/16/2019
Episode 4 | Season 1 Episode 4 | Retro Report on PBS

Stream the latest episode of Retro Report on PBS! We look at presidents and the press, the origins of vaccine anxiety, a baseball player who paved the way for modern free agency, and America's unintended wild horse problem. Plus, Andy Borowitz on political "apologies".

Head to the link below or the PBS Video App to watch.

https://www.pbs.org/video/retro-report-on-pbs-season-1-episode-4-full/

Presidents vs. press; measles cases soar; free agency; wild horses, “apologies.”

10/15/2019
Retro Report | Episode 4 Preview | PBS

Coming up TONIGHT on an all-new Retro Report on PBS:

President Trump is taking on the press with a time-tested strategy, the latest measles outbreak, a history of free agency in sports, and the consequences of a law meant to save wild horses. Plus, Andy Borowitz takes on the no-apology apology for his Now It All Makes Sense segment.

Join us at 9/8c or stream at pbs.org/retroreport! #RetroReportPBS

TONIGHT on Retro Report on PBS: Why don't more people intervene when they encounter violence live-streaming online? We l...
10/14/2019
The Bystander Effect | Season 1 Episode 3 | Retro Report on PBS

TONIGHT on Retro Report on PBS: Why don't more people intervene when they encounter violence live-streaming online? We look back on a decades-old murder than can shed light on what social scientists call the "bystander effect".

Join us for the full story at 9/8c or stream at pbs.org/retroreport
#RetroReportPBS

The story of the murder of Kitty Genovese is told by author Catherine Pelonero.

10/14/2019
Retro Report | Episode 3 Preview | PBS

TONIGHT on an all-new Retro Report on PBS:

How a decades-old murder can shed light on the way we react to violence on the internet. The surprising ways LSD is upending modern medicine. The story of a naval officer who transformed the U.S. military. A trash barge’s meandering voyage that persuaded us to recycle. Plus, Andy Borowitz on moon hoax theorists.

Tune in at 9/8c or stream at pbs.org/retroreport. #RetroReportPBS

California is ending its use of private prisons and privately-run immigration detention facilities. Here we look at how ...
10/12/2019
For Private Prisons, Detaining Immigrants Is Big Business | Retro Report

California is ending its use of private prisons and privately-run immigration detention facilities.

Here we look at how for profit prisons began and why, despite their mixed record, private prisons are overseeing the majority of undocumented migrants:

https://www.retroreport.org/video/for-private-prisons-detaining-immigrants-is-big-business/

An inmate population surge in the 1980s led to the growth of for-profit prisons. Today, despite their mixed record, private prison companies are overseeing the vast majority of undocumented migrants.

10/11/2019
Transgender Rights: A Decades-long Struggle for Equality | Retro Report

At CNN’s Equality Town Hall on Thursday, a transgender woman named Blossom made an impromptu, passionate speech about the challenges still facing black transgender Americans. “Black transgender women are dying, our lives matter," she said. Per Human Rights Campaign, 2019 has already seen at least 19 transgender people fatally shot or killed.

In our report on the ongoing fight for equality for transgender people and the pioneers of the movement, we talked to Lourdes Ashley Hunter, executive director of Trans Women of Color Collective, about the struggles transgender people of color still face: “The community that I work for is wondering how they’re going to eat tonight, wondering if they’re going to have health coverage, wondering if they’re even going to make it back to the shelter where they’re staying”.

Watch the full story here:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JFeppBeDgvU

Transgender issues today are rooted in a decades-long struggle for equal rights that took shape in the 1960s, and included a little-known uprising at Gene Co...

10/11/2019

Colin #Kaepernick’s reps said Thursday they’ve received “little to no response” from #NFL teams in signing or working out the former 49ers QB. The statement comes after the Pittsburgh #Steelers became the latest team this season to see a quarterback go down (in their case, two), and now plan to start an undrafted rookie on Sunday. In a #RetroReportPBS excerpt, @newyorkermag’s Jelani Cobb explains how, for black athletes protesting injustice, dissent has often been equated with disloyalty. Hit the link in bio for the full story on athletes speaking out against injustice. Do you think Colin Kaepernick will get another shot in the NFL?

10/11/2019
Athletes vs. Injustice: Protests in Sports | Retro Report on PBS

Colin Kaepernick’s representatives put out a statement Thursday saying they’ve received “little to no response” from NFL teams in the former 49er. The statement came after the Pittsburgh Steelers became the latest team to see a QB go down this season (in their case, two), and now plan to start an undrafted rookie on Sunday.

We talked to the man, Harry Edwards, who advised Kaepernick before he began protesting injustice during the national anthem, and traced how the actions of Kaepernick and others are the latest in a long history of athletes speaking out and sports and politics colliding.

Do you think Kaepernick will get another shot in the NFL?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AOknbaklMHg

When NFL players, starting with Colin Kaepernick, took a knee during the national anthem to protest police mistreatment of African-Americans, their actions i...

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