black in america

PODCAST EPISODE #8: Jeff Reid, producer, “Black in America” & “50 Years of Change”

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Can local TV stations produce compelling documentaries?

Allow me to make the argument against that idea:

  • Documentaries require significant topics.
  • Documentaries require significant resources.
  • Documentaries require significant talent.
  • Documentaries require significant vision.

Now, I would never argue that local news stations lack the vision, talent, resources, and topics to do compelling work. But very few have enough of each to commit to producing a hour of worthy television — that is, an hour beyond the numerous hours of newscasts they already produce.

And yet, last week, my station premiered a documentary, “50 Years Of Change”, about the Civil Rights events of 1963; it received praise from both viewers and local leaders. It is a product on which I had the privilege to work, and of which I am very proud. It aired on our station, WXIA-TV in Atlanta, last Wednesday, and an abridged version has been made available for schools to show their social studies classes.

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PODCAST PREVIEW: Jeff Reid: “This is one of my finest hours”

A week ago, I spoke of my pride for taking part in “50 Years Of Change”, an hour-long documentary about the Civil Rights events of 1963. It premiered last week to great acclaim from viewers and local leaders.

Now, allow me to introduce you to the man behind it.

Jeff Reid has been a co-worker of mine at WXIA-TV in Atlanta for more than a year; he joined us after spending 15 years at CNN, spearheading their documentary department and producing the much-discussed “Black in America”. He manages our enterprise content, meaning he oversees the production of long-form stories and investigations.

His other big mission? Get a few documentaries under our belts — and make them great.

In the recent history at our station, we had done the occasional single-topic newscast and even a documentary or two, but we had not tackled a topic as heavy as the Civil Rights movement — and we certainly had not filled an hour doing so — until “50 years Of Change”. For his part, Reid had never produced a documentary with so little time and staff; he spearheaded this one with a team of 8-10 people in barely a month.

Reid discusses the process with me on this episode of the Telling The Story podcast.

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