Why Movies Make the Best Journalism

What makes documentary film a better truth-delivery system than print? The most effective documentaries combine advocacy with immediacy. Film feels in the present tense, while print, striving for objectivity, lingers in the reflective past. “I left still photography because it could not provide the things that I knew films could provide,” said documentary godfather Willard Van Dyke in a 1965 "Film Comment" interview....

WE ARE ENJOYING A GOLDEN AGE of documentaries, although your underfunded neighborhood documentarian may feel otherwise. HBO, Netflix, and PBS are all producing excellent work that’s creating more buzz than print journalism, with films like BlackfishVirungaGoing Clear, and Restrepo providing provocative and award-winning examples. Documentaries depend on drama, which creates chatter, which attracts eyeballs and advertisers. And as Robert Redford told the BBC in 2012, documentary films are “a better form of truth” than newspapers. Print would do well to watch its back or, better yet, learn a trick or two from its savvy media cousin. Read more at Columbia Journalism Review…

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