With the election just weeks away, it’s more important than ever to be reminded of how we receive information and what assumptions we make about our news sources. Indiewire‘s latest curation of Hulu’s Documentaries page explores journalism and the wider media landscape, offering analysis, critiques and, in some cases, conspiracies about the way the medium is the message. Watch these docs for free now!
Rick Goldsmith’s Oscar-nominated “Tell the Truth and Run” profiles famed journalist George Seldes and his long career, stretching from the 1910s until his death in 1995. Finding himself clashing time and time again with the interests of the owners of the papers for which he wrote, Seldes founded his own newsletter that focused on the undue influence money and power had on his profession, a situation that has only been exacerbated through media consolidation.
Other docs in this collection looking at the vulnerability of the free press include “The Trouble With Truth,” which looks at the critical role in the anti-Apartheid movement played by a newspaper banned by the South African government, and “Control Room,” which contrasts the Bush administration’s attempts to present the Iraq War through the mass media with Al Jazeera’s more critical coverage.
Robert Greenwald’s “Outfoxed” offers its own pointed analysis of bias in the media by targeting Rupert Murdoch’s Fox News. Beyond debunking the channel’s “Fair and Balanced” tagline by spotlighting the clear conservative biases it espouses, the film explores the widening chasm between political ideologies that has degraded reasoned, civil discourse and sunk the standards of journalism on the whole. On the flip side, the conservative documentary “Media Malpractice” poses the conspiratorial argument that liberal bias in the media simultaneously elevated Obama and unfairly denigrated vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin in the 2008 election.
One of the most potent documentaries about the influence of the media remains Mark Achbar and Peter Wintonick’s “Manufacturing Consent.” Expanding on the concepts in Noam Chomsky’s book of the same name, the film explores the noted thinker’s thesis that American mass media play a pivotal role in protecting the vested interests of their corporate owners, shaping the stories they cover to suit the agendas set by those in power. “Videocracy” offers similar insight outside the U.S. by focusing on television in Silvio Berlusconi’s Italy.
EDITOR’S NOTE: “Indiewire @ Hulu Docs” is a regular column spotlighting the IW-curated selections on Hulu’s Documentaries page, a unique collaboration between the two sites. Be sure to check out the great non-fiction projects available to watch free of charge. Disclosure: Some of the selections are titles provided to Hulu by SnagFilms, the parent company of Indiewire.
ABOUT THE WRITER: Basil Tsiokos is a Programming Associate, Documentary Features for Sundance, Shorts & Panel Programmer for DOC NYC and a consultant to documentary filmmakers and festivals. Follow him on Twitter (@1basil1) and visit his blog (what (not) to doc).