Pub. date: 2009 | Online Pub. Date: December 16, 2009 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412972048 | Print ISBN: 9780761929574 | Online ISBN: 9781412972048| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Documentaries are nonfiction programs that convey experience, provide information, and offer analysis. Many memorable and respected programs in American television journalism were documentaries. In part, this is because documentaries offer journalists the luxury of more airtime to explore a single topic in greater depth than the shorter-format evening news or newsmagazine programs. In addition, documentarians are often freer to express their own conclusions on controversial issues than beat reporters, who are more constrained by the demands of objectivity and balance. Although the line between documentary and docudrama is often blurry, documentaries are less likely to dramatize or reenact events. In contrast to talk shows, documentaries aim to go beyond “talking heads” offering opinions to convey the lived experience of people, places, and events. Documentary makers usually construct their programs from some combination of recordings in the field, compilations of archival materials, interviews, graphics, and animations. Many types of broadcast documentary ...