PBS announced at the Television Critics Association Press Tour its plans for PBS Election 2016, a comprehensive schedule of news, public affairs, documentary and corresponding digital programming. At the center of this multi-platform initiative is a new strategic partnership with NPR that allows for sharing of news content between the two organizations. As one of the country’s most trusted news sources and a leader in developing content for digital platforms, PBS brings to this year’s election coverage a mix of investigative reports, educational opportunities and stories of interest on the local and national levels.
“In this election year, PBS promises viewers extensive, in-depth and thoughtful coverage across all platforms,” said Beth Hoppe, Chief Programming Executive and General Manager of General Audience Programming for PBS. “Our roster of signature programs, specials and online offerings will deliver fully integrated news and analysis from multiple perspectives.”
The new partnership between PBS and NPR will enable the two organizations to share digital, video, and audio content in new ways. As part of this collaboration, PBS will launch a new, designated elections-focused digital destination on PBS.org in February that will include content from NPR, as well as from PBS' signature news and public affairs programs and local PBS station newsrooms across the country. Likewise, NPR will integrate PBS content into its popular Politics section on NPR.org. PBS and NPR will cross-promote both sites and engage audiences through social media tools.
“We have an anxious country seeking to pick a new president. There are few tasks more important this election year than giving the country the news coverage, information and conversation to help make sound choices. NPR and PBS share that mission of producing trusted, thoughtful public service journalism to inform the American public,” said Michael Oreskes, NPR Senior Vice President of News and Editorial Director. “Partnering with PBS and working with our member stations, we will provide a forum for a national conversation about politics that goes from the local grassroots perspective our on-the-ground reporters provide, to analysis and context.”
PBS Election 2016 includes a mix of new and returning series, and specials that will follow the election trail from the primary debates to election night and beyond. Coverage will highlight all major political events, including primaries, conventions and election night returns.
PBS NEWSHOUR will produce PBS NEWSHOUR DEMOCRATIC PRIMARY DEBATE, moderated by Gwen Ifill and Judy Woodruff in Milwaukee, Wisconsin on February 11, 2016 from 9 - 11 p.m. ET. In addition to thorough coverage of the campaign on the nightly broadcast, online at www.pbs.org/newshour, and on its social platforms, NEWSHOUR's election-focused special programming of the early primary season will include primetime coverage of the Iowa Caucuses, New Hampshire Primary and Super Tuesday. In partnership with NPR, NEWSHOUR also will provide full coverage in July 2016 of the Democratic National Convention and Republican National Convention, a first-time collaboration for the two organizations.
PBS NEWSHOUR WEEKEND will feature remote broadcasts from Philadelphia and Cleveland on the weekends leading up to the Democratic and Republican Conventions. In addition, the program will provide regular, in-depth reporting, called “Every Vote Counts: Examining the People, Places and Issues the Candidates Overlook,” throughout the 2016 campaign.
FRONTLINE’s acclaimed series “The Choice” returns this fall with a two-hour film investigating what has shaped the two major-party presidential candidates, where they came from, how they lead and why they want to take on one of the most difficult jobs imaginable. Produced by Michael Kirk (“United States of Secrets,” “League of Denial”), “The Choice 2016” will investigate formative moments in the candidates’ lives, providing in-depth reporting and powerful new insights about the candidates. Additionally, in the run-up to the 2016 election, FRONTLINE, PBS NEWSHOUR and APM’s “Marketplace” will team up to investigate the American economy — from the forces that have shaped it to the lives of the people living in it. The collaboration – sparked by “Marketplace” host Kai Ryssdal’s travels and radio reporting, and funded jointly by PBS and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting – will produce 10 videos to be broadcast on PBS NEWSHOUR and shared on FRONTLINE, PBS NEWSHOUR and “Marketplace” websites and social channels.
WASHINGTON WEEK WITH GWEN IFILL features the PBS NEWSHOUR anchor alongside Washington’s top journalists, analyzing key election news stories and their effect on the lives of all Americans. This election season, WASHINGTON WEEK will originate from key election locations with a series of live “road shows” along the campaign trail, including from the site of the PBS NEWSHOUR DEMOCRATIC PRIMARY DEBATE in Milwaukee (Feb. 12); from Cleveland, the host city of the Republican National Convention (July 15); and the following week from Philadelphia, host city of the Democratic National Convention (July 22). In September, WASHINGTON WEEK will originate from the battleground state of Colorado with a live-audience program from the campus of Colorado College in Colorado Springs.
AMERICAN EXPERIENCE launches The Presidents, an all-new digital portal showcasing hundreds of assets from the Peabody Award-winning collection of films about our nation’s most important leaders. Films in the collection include the upcoming“Murder of a President” (February 2 on PBS) and biographies of John F. Kennedy, Jr., Bill Clinton, George H.W. Bush, Ronald Reagan, Jimmy Carter, Richard Nixon, Lyndon B. Johnson, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Harry S. Truman, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, Theodore Roosevelt, Ulysses S. Grant, Abraham Lincoln and John Adams. Launching on Presidents Day 2016 (Monday, February 15), the portal will allow viewers to screen films, delve deeper with experts and living witnesses, and examine more than 200 primary source documents. The Presidents explores issues faced during various administrations, including the economy, war, dealing with a crisis, and abuses of power.
Throughout 2016, PBS will introduce a slate of new and returning programs focusing on issues important to the American people. Special programming includes:
• INDEPENDENT LENS takes on the subject of gun violence over two consecutive nights with two documentaries: “Peace Officer,” about the increasingly militarized state of American police, told through the story of a former sheriff who established Utah’s first SWAT team (May 9); and “The Armor of Light,” which follows two people of faith who come together to explore the contradictions of a nation rife with gun violence -- an evangelical minister who questions whether one can be pro-gun as well as pro-life, and a grieving mother dedicated to creating change after the shooting of her unarmed teenage son. Both films will be followed by one-hour primetime town-hall-style conversations.
• 16 FOR ’16 (w.t.), produced by OZY Media and hosted by Carlos Watson, is an American political documentary series that revisits the most compelling stories from past U.S. presidential campaigns to uncover gory details, hidden insights and lessons learned. Subjects include Howard Dean, Sarah Palin, Michael Dukakis, Ross Perot and Gary Hart, among others. The sixteen 30-minute episodes will air weekly leading up to election night.
• In WILLIE VELASQUEZ: Empowering the People, a production of Galan Incorporated and Latino Public Broadcasting, viewers meet the man who led the Southwest Voter Registration and Education Project and launched 1,000 voter registration drives in 200 cities, paving the way for Latinos to have a voice in government and underscoring the growing power of the Latino vote.
• POSTCARDS FROM THE GREAT DIVIDE is a new series of nine short films, produced by a diverse mix of filmmakers who present a glimpse into grassroots politics in nine states. Each film focuses on a different topic relevant to the dynamics of voter turnout and partisan choice that will help decide the presidential race. Executive produced by Louis Alvarez, Andrew Kolker and Paul Stekler, the makers of Vote for Me: Politics in America. The films will premiere on the PBS NEWSHOUR and be distributed online via PBS.org.
• GETTING AHEAD is a one-hour primetime special, presented by WNET’s public media initiative Chasing the Dream: Poverty and Opportunity in America, that examines the hotly debated nationwide movement to increase the minimum wage. The documentary follows Tavis Smiley as he travels to Northern California where increases have been in place for more than a year, and offers a thought-provoking look at the real impact of higher wages on communities, businesses and employees.
• AMERICA BY THE NUMBERS WITH MARIA HINOJOSA, a one-hour prime-time special produced by Futuro Media and presented by WGBH that examines the changing demographics in the United States, viewing critical electoral issues through the lens of the new American mainstream and the country’s evolution to a majority-minority nation.
In February, PBS will launch Election Central, an online educational resource bank for students and teachers. Created by PBS LearningMedia – the free media-on-demand service from PBS that offers more than 100,000 digital resources for classroom use – and PBS NEWSHOUR, Election Central is designed to provide educators with resources to help drive student engagement around the political process throughout the year, while highlighting videos, activities and interactives available through PBS LearningMedia. Content will be refreshed on a weekly basis or when timely events occur, such as a debate or convention. Other educational components will include student contests and debates, and an interactive map that will allow teachers and students to track the campaign trail of the candidates, provide details on candidates’ views, feature fun facts about the election, and house election-specific news from PBS NEWSHOUR.