Vanguard of American Journalism
April 30, 2011 4:31 PM   Subscribe

Current TV previously & previously, the media company founded by Al Gore after the 2000 election, has picked up the kinds of in depth long form journalism being rapidly dropped by major networks, but has been tantalizingly unavailable for those without cable; until now. They have been putting their Vanguard episodes up on their website and on YouTube.

Season One,

Episode 1, A Day With the Tribe (10:59)
Laura Ling visits a native tribe in Brazil's Amazon forest, also chases some dudes holding a vagina.
Episode 2, The Meth Trail (12:25)
Exploring the role of crystal meth in the gay community
Episode 3, Diving Too Deep (19:31)
As lobster stocks in Nicaragua become increasingly depleted, local divers are forced to take more risks
Episode 4, Death Train (11:18)
Central Americans have a lot further to go to get to America, many take a notorious train.
Episode 5, Rebels in the Pipeline (26:09)
Exploring the causes behind the increasing levels of oil-related violence in the Niger River Delta
Episode 6, From Russia With Hate (19:35)
An investigation into Russia's anti-immigrant and neo-nazi groups
Episode 7, Elixir of the Toxic Frog (25:13)
In search for the Kambo frog, one of many organisms that could hold secrets for modern medicine
Episode 8, Prison Power Play (43:29)
Laura Ling reports on the complex power plays taking place at Corcoran, one of the country's most notorious prisons
Episode 9, Saving Madagascar (24:26)
Adam Yamaguchi investigates the unique environmental situation in Madagascar.
Episode 10, Blood Roses and Deadly Diamonds (26:16)
Vanguard heads to Colombia and Sierra Leone to explore the unromantic stories behind two symbols of love.
Episode 11, Scarf Wars (24:43)
A view of Turkey with its current identity crisis, mixing democracy and Islam
Episode 12, Lost in Democracy (18:04)
An exploration of Bhutan's struggle to preserve its culture in the modern world
Episode 13, City on Steroids (28:21)
A view of China's new megacities through an exploration of Chongqing, population 12 million and counting
Episode 14, End of the Road (25:24)
An investigation into why the Pan-American Highway, which runs from Alaska to Argentina, stops for 60 miles; at the Darién Gap.
Episode 15, Lagos la Vida Loca (14:46)
An exploration of the world's fastest growing megacity
Episode 16, Destination Anywhere (24:58)
An view of the Philippines number 1 export, people
Episode 17, World's Sugar Daddy (12:50)
An exploration of Brazil's bio-fuels program, the Saudi Arabia of ethanol
Episode 18, Pollution to Protest (24:13)
An investigation into the destination of much of the West's e-waste, southern China.
Episode 19, World Without Water (28:23)
A look at three places--Florida, China, and Nevada, as the 21st Century begins with the Age of Drought

Season 2,

Episode 1, America's Secret War With Iran (24:57)
Vanguard asks if America is already at war with Iran, previously
Episode 2, The Great American Detour (48:33)
Vanguard zigzags from Los Angeles to New York by bus, stopping to talk to young Americans about national issues affecting them in the lead up to the election.
Episode 3, Modern Day Pirates (25:32)
Kaj Larsen goes on a search for modern day pirates in the straits of Malacca, talking to trackers and sailors before visiting the pirate dens themselves.
Episode 4, I Heart Global Warming (22:57)
An exploration of Greenlanders surprising reactions to global warming
Episode 5, Maxed Out (23:42)
An investigation into the troubles of young Americans trying to get by in the new economy
Episode 6, Chinatown, Africa (24:29)
An investigation into China's rapidly growing presence in Africa
Episode 7, Getting Out of Prison (49:32)
Vanguard follows several young inmates out of prison and into the often losing battle to keep from going back in.
Episode 8, Japan: Robot Nation (25:05)
Outlining Japan's unique solution to its unique demographic problems
Episode 9, Fully Automatic America (50:55)
An exploration of the vastly different gun cultures in Knob Creek, Kentucky and Camden, New Jersey.
Episode 10, The Most Controversial Jail in the World (24:18)
An investigation into Maximum Security Detainee Camp #5 in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
Episode 12, Battle of Saipan (25:12)
A view of Saipan's dramatic rise and crash in the global economy
Episode 13, Narco War Next Door (51:37)
A groundbreaking investigation into the massive amount of violence in Juarez, Mexico caused by drug cartels
Episode 14, Beach of Death (23:54)
Christof Putzel and Kaj Larsen travel to Somalia to investigate the worlds most failed state
Episode 15, Lost Vegas (24:28)
During the boom years, no place in America boomed more than Las Vegas. But when the economy collapsed, Vegas fell hard.
Episode 16, Outsourcing Unemployment (25:08)
An investigation into the effect America's recession has had on China
Episode 17, Thank You, Recession (23:56)
In light of the current recession, vanguard explores how Argentinians handled their recent one.

Season 3,

Episode 1, The Oxycontin Express (47:09)
An investigation into prescription drug abuse in America, winner of 2009 Peabody Award.
Episode 2, Cuba: Waiting for a Revolution (22:16)
Adrian Baschuk travels to the last remaining Communist state in the western hemisphere to investigate whether or not there exists any possibility of regime change.
Episode 3, Forest of Ecstasy (22:05)
An investigation into the source of the raw ingredient for much of the world's supply of illegal ecstasy, rural Cambodia.
Episode 4, Notes from a War on Terror (22:33)
Mariana van Zeller travels to Sri Lanka to see how the Tamil Tigers, one of the world's most lethal and influential terrorist organizations, were finally defeated.
Episode 5, Porn 2.0 (22:14)
Christof Putzel takes a behind the scenes look at the adult entertainment industry, examining its history and impact on the ever-changing face of new media.
Episode 6, Prison Contraband (45:31)
Janet Choi goes inside a California state prison to investigate contraband smuggled inside the cells, and how cellphones are the new security threat.
Episode 7, Remote Control War (20:44)
Vanguard looks at the rapid rise of remote controlled weapons and their future
Episode 8, Cocaine Mafia (20:58)
Christof Putzel investigates how Europe's growing appetite for cocaine is funding the growth of West African crime syndicates and fueling a turf war with the Camorra.

Season 4,

In a special episode Vanguard interviews its former VP and correspondent Laura Ling who was arrested by North Korean authorities and used as a pawn global politics.

Episode 1, Missionaries of Hate (44:47)
Vanguard travels to Uganda to look at the roots of the recent crisis surrounding a potential new law. previously previouslier previouslierer previousliest
Episode 3, The World's Toilet Crisis (44:25)
Adam Yamaguchi travels to India, Singapore and Indonesia to understand why people don't use toilets and what's being done to end the practice of open defecation.
Female Genital Cutting (7:43)
A look at the practice of Female Genital Mutilation in Sierra Leone

And you thought you were going to get work done this weekend
posted by Blasdelb (23 comments total) 111 users marked this as a favorite

has been tantalizingly unavailable for those without cable

You mean, aside from being carried on DISH (channel 196) and DirecTV (channel 358)?
posted by hippybear at 4:37 PM on April 30, 2011

And you thought you were going to get work done this weekend

...and I would have gotten away with it if it wasn't for you blasted kids!
posted by fuq at 4:47 PM on April 30, 2011 [1 favorite]

I used to watch Vanguard all the time, and then Current went enh and I stopped. I'll have to watch that special episode about Ling now.

Do yourselves a favour and check out 1x18. This was unavailable for quite awhile (presumably due to the things happening around Ling).

Also, this video - which begins about avian flu, the wild animal market and the ease of animal-human transmission in China - turns into some really unbelievably horrific animal cruelty video. Do NOT watch if this is something that is going to mess you up (hint: it will probably mess you up like you will not fucking believe). This was also unavailable for awhile. There's a Vanguard logo before it starts but I'm not sure if it's part of an actual episode or was a standalone mini-doc.

Pretty much all the Vanguard episodes are 100% worth watching.
posted by curious nu at 4:47 PM on April 30, 2011 [2 favorites]

In fact, you're more likely to have access to Current TV if you have "satellite" than if you have "cable". Damn you, Paul Allen and Charter Communications. I'm sure Gore & co. are hoping the return of Olbermann's "Countdown" (bad sign: he's using the same lame title) will get it on more local systems.

Also, it's a sign of the times that videos as short as 7:43 are considered "in depth long form journalism". Most "60 Minutes" segments are longer, but nothing on that show is allowed more depth than Andy Rooney saying "y'ever notice..."
posted by oneswellfoop at 4:58 PM on April 30, 2011 [1 favorite]

I now regret writing cable when I should have said premium television, on the other hand, here is some bonus awesomeness

posted by Blasdelb at 5:14 PM on April 30, 2011

I now regret writing cable when I should have said premium television, on the other hand, here is some bonus awesomeness


Oh, man, you were so so close with that...

If only your video had been about BEARS!, you could have earned 100 bonus points!
posted by hippybear at 5:24 PM on April 30, 2011 [1 favorite]

They unfortunately already feature prominently in my second link
posted by Blasdelb at 5:31 PM on April 30, 2011

I thought I did a kind of one-off on Vanguard, not as comprehensive though. So, previously, I guess.
posted by P.o.B. at 5:37 PM on April 30, 2011 [1 favorite]

Have watched bits and pieces of other shows on Current and they gave me a headache. But I just started watching the beginning of one of the episodes and I am impressed and hooked. Thanks for posting.
posted by WickedPissah at 5:37 PM on April 30, 2011

They've been up on Hulu for at least a year.
posted by phunniemee at 5:54 PM on April 30, 2011

Wow, nice post.

I didn't know Current was run by Gore. Or started by. They have some pretty decent stuff on, but they're in a bloc of channels that I always forget we get, since they come after a chunk of inexplicable pay channels.
posted by klangklangston at 5:55 PM on April 30, 2011

work? i avoid that for a living. and may i say that Metafilter is having an awesome day so far.
posted by Glibpaxman at 6:17 PM on April 30, 2011

Wow, the one on Russian neo-nazis was shocking (1x6). Thanks for putting this together.
posted by triggerfinger at 6:19 PM on April 30, 2011

season 2 episode 4 about Greenland - excellent !!! I was in the towns that the reporter was in, and sensed the same exuberance about global warming, and the opportunities that it presents to Greenland.

Global warming has its dangers, but nothing like the Ice Age that preceded it, from 1450 to 1850.

I would rather have the challenges that we face, than the strife, famine and civil wars that defined the cold years in the centuries before. Just look to the histories of Northern Europe (Norway, Sweden, Iceland, and further South to England, Ireland and France) to see what these years were like...
posted by seawallrunner at 6:26 PM on April 30, 2011

Also, it's a sign of the times that videos as short as 7:43 are considered "in depth long form journalism".

To be fair, they're almost all 20+ min., and many are twice that. These are so far beyond what passes for tv journalism these days... and it's absolutely shameful and depressing that these aren't pulling American Idol numbers.
posted by Huck500 at 7:23 PM on April 30, 2011 [1 favorite]

woah. thank you.
posted by Theta States at 10:30 PM on April 30, 2011 [1 favorite]

And I would just like to say that I did get a lot of work done this weekend. Now I'm drunk. Now I can video.
posted by Theta States at 10:32 PM on April 30, 2011

You know what killed the last of long form journalism in the US? Current. Newsworld International ran all kinds of long form stuff from their partners around the world (mainly CBC, being run by CBC and all, but you'd get stuff from DW and ABC and elsewhere also), in addition to the regular nightly newscasts.

Originally, there was no long form on Current. It was like Youtube, but on TV. It was awful. Supposedly, they've gotten better, but I don't have DirecTV presently and Cox doesn't carry it here.
posted by wierdo at 11:22 PM on April 30, 2011

This is a wonderful post, thanks!
posted by iamkimiam at 12:54 AM on May 1, 2011 [1 favorite]

You know what killed the last of long form journalism in the US? Current. Newsworld International ran all kinds of long form stuff from their partners around the world (mainly CBC, being run by CBC and all, but you'd get stuff from DW and ABC and elsewhere also), in addition to the regular nightly newscasts.

Not sure if either of them are carried where you are, but both LinkTV and Free Speech TV carry long-form journalism and newscasts from all over the world.

And most PBS stations carry Frontline.
posted by hippybear at 4:30 AM on May 1, 2011

I used to be able to download whole episodes of Current TV's Infomania and Rotten Tomatoes as iTunes podcasts, and I was a big time fan. A year ago (?) they switched to offering most of the segments as separate podcasts, which doesn't allow the viewer to get the interstitial chat, and prefacing each segment with a REALLY LOUD visa commercial. Ugh. I get that they need to make money off their online and international market somehow, but the way they did it just felt a little slimy.
posted by arcticwoman at 7:51 AM on May 1, 2011

Episode 1x8, on life in Corcoran State Prison is a really really excellent, serious, without-hyperbole exploration of the racial and gang politics of prison life. I was totally absorbed by it.

Glad I read the thread, too: so this is the Laura Ling that was kidnapped by the North Koreans a couple of years back. I guess I never realized she was a real, serious journalist at the time, since I never checked out Current TV.

@Blasdelb, thanks for a really useful and interesting post, one of the few youtube posts I've ever felt compelled to favorite and bookmark.
posted by jackbrown at 1:18 PM on May 1, 2011 [1 favorite]

I know this is days later, but this is one of my favorite FPPs on MetaFilter ever. I had no clue that was doing such high quality journalism. Thank you so much for pointing us to this, but curse you for doing it during finals week.
posted by yaymukund at 12:36 AM on May 8, 2011 [1 favorite]

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