FRONTLINE-Duke Collaboration Sheds Light on U.S. Financial Crisis

A collaboration between Duke University’s Sanford School of Public Policy and the PBS documentary program FRONTLINE will bring to the public full-length interviews with federal officials and industry leaders involved in the U.S. financial crisis.

The videos were produced for FRONTLINE’s four-hour investigation “Money, Power and Wall Street,” airing in two parts on April 24 and May 1.Eight videos, more than seven hours in total, will be available on a new website.

They include conversations with former chair of the Council of Economic Advisers Christina Romer, former Wells Fargo Chairman Richard Kovacevich, White House Economic Adviser Austan Goolsbee and Chairman of the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission Phil Angelides.

The searchable archive also includes 12 complete transcripts of other interviews from among 100 conducted for the investigative series. Users can conduct keyword searches of the videos, making it easy to locate themes, people or companies.

Philip Bennett, FRONTLINE managing editor and a Duke professor of public policy and journalism, said the interviews provide public access to in-depth accounts from Washington and Wall Street insiders involved in the origins and response to the financial crisis. While FRONTLINE will use selections from the interviews in its investigative series, the website makes them available at length.

The project was made possible by the Jay Rutherfurd Living History Program, part of the Sanford School’s DeWitt Wallace Center for Media and Democracy.

“Our main goal is to take the generous legacy provided by Jay Rutherford and his family and apply it to work of great moment and relevance,” Bennett said.

Since it began in 1973, the Rutherfurd Program has produced interviews with prominent American and world leaders who have been major participants in significant international or domestic events. As the cost of video production plummeted over the years, the DeWitt Wallace Center sought to rethink the type and timeliness of content created, as well as the way the interviews are accessed. Previous interviews in the Rutherfurd archive are being digitized with a goal of making them available on the Internet.

Professor James Hamilton, director of the DeWitt Wallace Center, said partnerships between universities and nonprofit media are more needed, and more common, than ever before.

“FRONTLINE, as the premier documentary public affairs program on television, is a natural fit with a place like Sanford,” Hamilton said.