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.

06/02/2020
Athletes vs. Injustice: Protests in Sports | Retro Report on PBS

Colin Kaepernick has been criticized for taking a knee in protest against police brutality and systemic racism. George Floyd's death has brought that protest back into the spotlight. Kaepernick is just the latest in a long list of athletes who have spoken out.

When N.F.L. players, starting with Colin Kaepernick, took a knee during the national anthem to protest police mistreatment of African-Americans, their action...

06/02/2020
The Race to Sequence the Human Genome | Retro Report

One of the fast-tracked vaccines for Covid-19 uses what’s called Gene Therapy. Retro Report tells you what it is and who some of the players are. 🧬

The race to sequence the human genome was billed as a way to end disease. Here's where it led. "Finding the Code" is a three-part series in collaboration wit...

06/01/2020
Transgender Rights: A Decades-long Struggle for Equality | Retro Report

Today marks the beginning of Pride month 🏳️‍🌈 Transgender activists Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera are being remembered for their roles in another struggle for civil rights. Retro Report explored the origins of that fight.

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...

Teachers have been using our Retro Report videos in class for years, so we decided to make things easier for them: We de...
06/01/2020
Retro Report for High School Teachers/Educators | Retro Report

Teachers have been using our Retro Report videos in class for years, so we decided to make things easier for them: We developed a free educational resource, with lesson plans for our award-winning mini-docs. 👩🏻‍🏫

It’s still a prototype, which we will be tweaking purely based on the feedback from teachers so we can launch it in the Fall. Please help us put this in front of high school and college educators who will benefit from this service! We want to know what they think.

🔵 Look for the blue button to provide feedback.

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...

05/31/2020
She Rocked the Pentagon | Retro Report on PBS

We're thrilled to have won a Military Reporters & Editors Journalism Awards for our story, "She Rocked the Pentagon." Congratulations to our producer Karen Sughrue!

𝗪𝗔𝗧𝗖𝗛 the winning entry 👇🏽

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...

The incident involving Amy Cooper and Christian Cooper (not related) evokes a little known chapter from the racial histo...
05/30/2020

The incident involving Amy Cooper and Christian Cooper (not related) evokes a little known chapter from the racial history of New York’s Central Park: In the mid-1800s, a settlement called Seneca Village, largely made up of African-Americans, was set up on land that later became the park. According to Central Park, “Andrew Williams, a 25-year-old African-American shoeshiner, bought the first three lots for $125.” Historian Cynthia Copeland wrote that, for its more than 200 residents, including some Irish immigrants, life in the refuge of Seneca was healthier than in the tenements downtown, where they faced considerable racism. In the 1850s, NYC began mapping out plans for an 800-acre public space. Seneca property owners fought for their land but park advocates went on the offensive, calling the area a “shantytown” and accusing the residents of being “vagabonds and scoundrels.” Eventually the residents were bought out by the city or forced out through eminent domain. The Ramble, the area of Central Park where the 2020 incident took place, is a short walk from the Seneca Park area. #LessonsFromHistory

05/30/2020
Why Waco is Still a Battleground in the 2nd Amendment Debate | Retro Report

What are you up to this weekend? Now that everyone has finished Tiger King, it looks like Waco is the next Netflix series to catch on. Our doc revisits the 1993 standoff, and how it became a rallying cry for militia groups like those run by Cliven and Amon.

More than two decades after federal agents raided the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas, the siege has become a rallying point for antigovernment group...

05/30/2020
Coronavirus: Lessons From Past Epidemics | Retro Report

Smallpox showed that the success of a vaccine hinges on its delivery. With several vaccines in development for Covid-19, what can the fight against smallpox teach us about worldwide vaccine distribution? We have the story.

Dr. Larry Brilliant, who helped eradicate smallpox, says past epidemics can teach us to fight coronavirus. Subscribe to our newsletter for the history behind...

05/30/2020
Can Genetic Testing Services Really Predict Your Future? | Retro Report

Have you ever taken DNA tests from Ancestry or 23andMe? Both companies are mining their databases for mutations that make some Covid-19 victims sicker. We have the backstory on direct-to-consumer gene tests, and how much we truly know about mutations.

Lifesaving genetic tests was a goal for scientists who sequenced the human genome in the 1990s. Today, companies market genetic tests for everything from can...

The contrast: When America’s death toll from AIDS passed 100,000 in 1991, The New York Times ran an Associated Press sto...
05/28/2020

The contrast: When America’s death toll from AIDS passed 100,000 in 1991, The New York Times ran an Associated Press story on Page 18, below the fold.

In the latest Retro Report newsletter:🔸 How soon can we expect a Covid-19 vaccine? History has some clues.🔸 The history ...
05/27/2020

In the latest Retro Report newsletter:
🔸 How soon can we expect a Covid-19 vaccine? History has some clues.
🔸 The history of the word ‘quarantine.’
🔸 And more!
Subscribe today at https://www.retroreport.org!

In this time of isolation, gardening is helping people to escape from feelings of alienation 🌱 Americans have long turne...
05/27/2020
The impulse to garden in hard times has deep roots

In this time of isolation, gardening is helping people to escape from feelings of alienation 🌱 Americans have long turned to the soil to deal with anxiety in moments of disruption.

What drives people to garden isn't the fear of hunger so much as hunger for physical contact – and a longing to engage in work that is real.

History has shown that without a vaccine, antibody tests for Covid-19 could create an incentive for people to expose the...
05/26/2020

History has shown that without a vaccine, antibody tests for Covid-19 could create an incentive for people to expose themselves to the virus in hope of gaining immunity.
More in our collaboration with Scientific American: bit.ly/3fILxVn

05/21/2020
Meatless Burgers Are on Trend. Eating to Save the World Has a Long History. | Retro Report

As Covid-19 slows meat production, consumers can expect higher prices, less selection. Will shoppers try plant-based "meat?" Meatless burgers have the sizzle, aroma, and taste of the animal kind. It’s an idea with roots in the 70s. We have the story.

Plant-based meats may be high tech, but the ideas behind them have been around for decades. Retro Report’s newsletter explores the history behind the headlin...

The whole world is desperate for a Covid-19 vaccine, but before we get ahead of ourselves, here’s some important context...
05/21/2020
Vaccine experts say Moderna's Covid-19 data leave big questions

The whole world is desperate for a Covid-19 vaccine, but before we get ahead of ourselves, here’s some important context from STAT: Vaccine experts say Moderna, Inc. didn’t produce data critical to assessing its Covid-19 vaccine.

While Moderna blitzed the media, it revealed very little information — and most of what it did disclose were words, not data.

Pet owners worldwide are fretting over the possibility of their furry friends catching Covid-19. During the 1918 influen...
05/20/2020
During the 1918 Flu Epidemic, Pet Parents Put Masks on Their Cats

Pet owners worldwide are fretting over the possibility of their furry friends catching Covid-19. During the 1918 influenza epidemic, people put masks on their pets, fearing that animals could transmit the disease to humans. Have you considered putting a mask on your pet yet? 🐶🐱

Yancia the bulldog even made the local paper: "This Seattle Dog Wears Flu Mask."

05/19/2020
Migrant Children in Custody: The Long Battle for Protection | Retro Report

Lawyers who represent migrant kids, including many who have tested positive for Covid-19, say the Trump administration won’t release them to sponsors. The situation has reopened a long legal battle over the rights of children in custody. It all started in the 1980s.

The number of immigrant children held in federally contracted shelters has reached record highs during the Trump Administration, leading to lawsuits over the...

“When medical systems fail, so do logic and reason, clearing a path for contagions of fear and blame.”
05/19/2020
Pandemics Go Hand in Hand with Conspiracy Theories

“When medical systems fail, so do logic and reason, clearing a path for contagions of fear and blame.”

From the Illuminati to “COVID-19 is a lie,” how pandemics have produced contagions of fear.

05/18/2020
Born by Surrogate: New Paths to Parenthood | Retro Report on PBS

Babies born in Ukraine to surrogates, some with American biological parents, are stranded because of coronavirus.
Surrogacy has long been a wild world, as Retro Report found when looking at the legacy of America's most famous surrogate child, Baby M.

Parenthood through surrogacy has become accepted in the United States, but it’s relatively unregulated compared with other countries. It’s an issue that most...

A big thanks to Hawaii Public Radio for inviting producer Matt Spolar to talk about our recent story on American Samoa a...
05/18/2020
The Conversation: State Lawmakers Resume 2020 Legislative Session

A big thanks to Hawaii Public Radio for inviting producer Matt Spolar to talk about our recent story on American Samoa and its successful efforts to sidestep the Spanish Flu and the coronavirus pandemics.

In case you missed it, here is the story: https://youtu.be/FkNG15P3ia8

2020 Legislative session resumes; Pedestrian and traffic safety awareness; Scant details about HECO's new solar farm projects; Samoan history teaches

It's not all about us: Just as we can get sick from animal viruses, they can catch ours, with terrible consequences.
05/17/2020
Ape researchers mobilize to save primates from coronavirus

It's not all about us: Just as we can get sick from animal viruses, they can catch ours, with terrible consequences.

> Science's COVID-19 coverage is supported by the Pulitzer Center. Seven years ago, a respiratory virus swept through 56 chimpanzees in a community at Kibale National Park in Uganda, where researchers have studied chimp behavior for 33 years. More than 40 apes were sickened; five died. “Chimpanzee...

*Update*: WA state health officials now say the “coronavirus parties” they claimed caused multiple infections were not i...
05/17/2020

*Update*: WA state health officials now say the “coronavirus parties” they claimed caused multiple infections were not intentional, “just innocent endeavors.”
________________________
"We were at a COVID party:" At least 25 people in Washington State got sick after mingling with an infected person at coronavirus parties. It's not the first time Americans have experimented with self-infection to try to attain "natural immunity." Before a vaccine came along in 1995, there were "chickenpox parties." But later, there were news reports of anti-vaccination parents allowing kids to share sippy cups, whistles, and lollipops to expose their children to the virus. #LessonsFromHistory

U.S. schoolchildren and teachers are in the midst of a massive experiment in education via the internet. There are paral...
05/16/2020

U.S. schoolchildren and teachers are in the midst of a massive experiment in education via the internet. There are parallels to 1937, when a polio outbreak closed Chicago schools and teachers turned to technology: radio. Classes were broadcast by teachers on at least six stations: 15-minute lessons in four subjects for grades 3 through 8. In lieu of textbooks, lesson plans and assignments were published in newspapers! #LessonsFromHistory

05/16/2020
How Fear of the Measles Vaccine Took Hold | Retro Report on PBS

Will some people refuse a Covid-19 vaccine if one becomes available – despite nearly 300,000 deaths worldwide? From the anti-vaxxer movement that grew around the MMR vaccine, it seems possible. We have the story of how fear of the measles vaccine took hold: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8KSD-HFSq3Y&feature=youtu.be

Skepticism and fear surrounding vaccines were fed by a flawed study done in 1998 that suggested a link between the MMR vaccine and autism. The study was quic...

05/15/2020
Rehab Rarely Works for Opioid Addicts. Could a Vaccine? | Retro Report

For people who need treatment for opioid addiction during the pandemic, the government has loosened restrictions on medications. 💊 Ever wondered how these drugs work and how efficient they are? Retro Report explores:

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

05/14/2020
Why History Urges Caution on Immunity Testing | Retro Report

𝐍𝐄𝐖! Desperate people once “bought the pox” to remain employed. Survival after yellow fever was a resume enhancement. Workers with proof of Covid-19 antibodies may be in demand, but history urges caution. Check our latest collaboration with Scientific American.

𝐑𝐄𝐀𝐃: https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/why-history-urges-caution-on-coronavirus-immunity-testing/
𝐖𝐀𝐓𝐂𝐇: https://youtu.be/9qa8R-fa8mc

In the rush to re-open the world’s economies, an idea has been taking shape: field a workforce of survivors who can be shown to have Covid-19 antibodies. But...

05/14/2020
Biosphere 2: A Faulty Mars Survival Test Gets a Second Act | Retro Report

Is the Covid-19 crisis making you wish we had other planets we could live in? In 1991, eight people isolated themselves for two years with dreams of one day colonizing space. We looked into this strange experiment 🚀

With dreams of one day colonizing space, eight people sealed themselves inside a giant glass biosphere in the Arizona desert in 1991. By the time they emerge...

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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"..