What an audience sees online or on television in a film like “The Choice 2012,” FRONTLINE’s dual biography election special that airs tonight, is just the tip of the iceberg of material that has been gathered. To craft a film this ambitious and comprehensive, the filmmaking team interviewed over 100 friends, family, advisers of the candidates and journalists who have covered them.
Tonight, in a pretty thrilling act of transparency, we published over 8 hours of the footage from those interviews on “The FRONTLINE Interviews” site. And we didn’t just publish raw video, we edited and finished the interviews, paired them with their transcripts, and created a rich environment for users to explore them either by person or by topic.
The result: viewers can watch and read over 25 interviews done both with famous faces like Ann Romney and Rahm Emanuel and with more obscure and fascinating people from Barack Obama and Mitt Romney’s life. You can learn about Obama’s childhood in Hawaii with the infamous “Choom Gang” from Tom Topolinksi, his high school basketball and partying buddy. Or Romney’s Mormon mission in France from friend Dane McBride, who was there with as they tried to convince people in Bordeaux to embrace a life of abstinence. Or you can read and watch by topic: from Romney’s time at Bain to Obama’s experience as a war president.
“Show your work” is one of the core tenets of digital journalism, and FRONTLINE has a long history of approaching it aggressively. Tonight, we think we set a new bar for ourselves and for current affairs television. We hope you’ll check the site out.
Wonderful glimpse at what it takes to do robust, hard-hitting multi-platform investigative journalism.