- Civil Rights
- Covid 19
- Criminal Justice
- Health & Medicine
- Law & Policy
- Media Criticism
- Popular Culture
- Science & Technology
- Sex & Gender
The Secret C.I.A. Operation That Haunts U.S.-Iran Relations
A 1953 C.I.A.-backed coup that ousted Iran’s Cold War leader has colored U.S.-Iran relations for decades.
Healing the Ozone: First Steps Toward Success
A worldwide effort to heal damage to the ozone layer is showing early progress.
Beekeepers and Scientists Join Forces to Protect the Pollinators
Honeybees, heroes in the national food supply, are under threat from parasites, exhaustion and a mysterious ailment. Here’s how beekeepers and scientists are fighting back to save the hives.
Why the Supreme Court Endorsed, Then Limited Affirmative Action
Ruling in a case that challenged practices that colleges use to select a diverse student body, the Supreme Court reverses itself.
In the Long Fight to Protect Native American Families, a Law Stands Guard
For generations, Native American children were removed from their homes and placed with white families. A recent Supreme Court ruling affirms the rights of Native families and tribes, giving them preference in adoption and foster care placement.
For decades, Native children were forcibly separated from their families - today, communities are working to overcome generations of trauma.
Why Are Schools Still Segregated? The Broken Promise of Brown v. Board of Education
The history of racial integration in public schools, and what happened after the buses stopped rolling.
How a 1968 Student Protest Fueled a Chicano Rights Movement
A massive protest by Mexican American high school students was a milestone in a movement for Chicano rights.
Transgender Rights, Won Over Decades, Face New Restrictions
More than 50 years after the Stonewall uprising marked the birth of a movement for LGBTQ+ rights, transgender activists continue to push for inclusion.
Forced Into Federal Boarding Schools as Children, Native Americans Confront the Past
Native Americans demand accountability for a federal policy that aimed to erase Indigenous culture.
The Crime That Fueled an Asian American Civil Rights Movement
The 1982 attack against Vincent Chin redefined hate crimes and energized a push for today’s stronger legal protections. (Mural by Anthony Lee.)
Fighting Drought With an Ancient Practice: Harvesting the Rain
Ancient methods of collecting and storing rainwater are being used to address severe drought today.
How Saba Kept Singing
The new Retro Report documentary “How Saba Kept Singing” traces the journey of Holocaust survivor David Wisnia as he returns to Auschwitz and unlocks a secret from his past.
Labor Union Activism Is on the Rise, Recalling the Great Depression
Spurred by the pandemic, new groups of workers are pushing to form unions in activism not seen since the 1930s.
Putin’s Nuclear Threats Evoke Cold War Tensions of the Cuban Missile Crisis
Russia’s recent nuclear threats have revived Cold War animosity with roots in the Cuban missile crisis. During a standoff in 1962, a tense confrontation between the United States and the Soviet Union nearly resulted in a nuclear war.
Amazon Rainforest Defenders Confront Violence, Encroachment and Politics
Debates over development in the world’s largest rainforest have led to deadly conflicts, threats to its indigenous people and harm to the global atmosphere.
Nuclear Meltdowns Raised Fears, but Growing Energy Needs May Outweigh Them
Catastrophic accidents at power plants have heightened fears about the safety of nuclear energy, but environmentalists and others are giving it renewed attention as a way to fight global warming.
Unprepared: Lessons From Two Massive Oil Spills
A disastrous oil spill off the coast of Alaska and massive explosion of a rig in the Gulf of Mexico revealed a pattern of unsettled standards and inconsistent oversight that cast doubt on the oil industry’s preparedness for future accidents.
Can You Spot Misinformation?
Think you can beat the experts in spotting misinformation? Watch this short video and find out.
Where's That Photo From? Identify the Source.
Online photos can be deceiving. Do you know how to identify the source? This skills-based video can help by teaching you how to use a reverse image search.
Whites-Only Suburbs: How the New Deal Shut Out Black Homebuyers
Race-based federal lending rules from New Deal programs in the 1930s kept Black families locked out of suburban neighborhoods, a policy that continues to slow their economic mobility.
Extremism in America (full film)
This 28-minute special looks at the roots and rise of hate groups in America. It is released in collaboration with WORLD Channel and The WNET Group’s reporting initiative Exploring Hate.
How a 1944 Supreme Court Ruling on Internment Camps Led to a Reckoning
The U.S. government ordered 120,000 people of Japanese descent, most American citizens, imprisoned during World War II. An admission of wrongdoing and reparations payments came decades later, but a Supreme Court ruling had lasting impact.
A New Housing Program to Fight Poverty Has an Unexpected History
Some cities are trying to help poor children succeed by having their families move to middle-income, so-called “opportunity areas” – an idea that was once politically impossible.
Midterm Elections: 1966 Midterms Signal a Realignment, Shaping Today’s Parties
Southern voters, once loyal to the Democratic Party, elected Republican candidates in 1966 as the two parties began to sort themselves into distinctly partisan camps.
Holocaust Survivors Fleeing Ukraine Find a New Home in Germany
In Ukraine, elderly Jewish citizens threatened by the war with Russia are being evacuated. As children, they escaped the Nazi invasion. Now some are finding refuge in a most unlikely place: Germany.
Midterm Elections: How 1994 Midterms Set Off an Era of Divisive Politics
Midterm elections, often a referendum on the sitting president’s agenda, can set the stage for future policy debates. Economic and social issues with roots in the 1994 midterms are still being debated today.
Facing Eviction: Teresa (Excerpt)
Facing Eviction provides a rare and intimate look at U.S. housing policy during the Covid-19 pandemic in a way that hasn’t been seen before.
Facing Eviction: Landlords and Law Enforcement (Excerpt)
While Facing Eviction emphasizes the tenant’s experience, it also shows how complicated it is for almost everyone involved.
Facing Eviction: Introduction (Excerpt)
This excerpt is an introduction to Facing Eviction, taking viewers inside the unfolding housing crisis during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Since the summer of 2020, we’ve documented the impact of the pandemic on housing and evictions. We followed tenants, landlords, lawyers, judges, sheriffs and social workers across the U.S. who were affected.
Facing Eviction Trailer
Since the summer of 2020, we’ve documented the impact of the pandemic on housing and evictions. We followed tenants, landlords, lawyers, judges, sheriffs and social workers across the U.S. who were affected. Facing Eviction airs on PBS Frontline on July 26 at 10/9c.
How Watergate and Citizens United Shaped Campaign Finance Law
The Watergate campaign finance scandals led to a landmark law designed to limit the influence of money in politics. Decades later, some say the scandal isn’t what’s illegal, it’s what’s legal.
Covid Deaths Left Orphans. The Stress of That Loss May Carry Lifelong Risks.
Avion Simon and his siblings, C.J., and Momo, lost their mother to Covid-19. Science has some ideas about the health hurdles that Covid orphans could face in the future.
The Weight of Stigma: Heavier Patients Confront a Bias
A look at how a bias on body size affects care of heavier patients, something the medical community is beginning to recognize, and do something about.
Extremism in America: Out of the Shadows
According to experts who monitor the radical right, the white supremacist ideology that police say drove the Buffalo gunman has begun moving from the extremes into the mainstream. This is the fifth episode of a five-part series produced in collaboration with The WNET Group’s reporting initiative Exploring Hate.
Extremism in America: A Surge in Violence
Violent attacks involving extremist ideology, like the Buffalo rampage, began to rise in the last decade, but officials were slow to recognize homegrown threats. This is the fourth episode of a five-part series produced in collaboration with The WNET Group’s reporting initiative Exploring Hate.
Extremism in America: Missed Warnings
In the years before Barack Obama was elected, many groups on the extreme right kept a relatively low profile. With the election of a Black president, that changed. This is the third episode of a five-part series produced in collaboration with The WNET Group’s reporting initiative Exploring Hate.
Extremism in America: The Oklahoma City Bombing
Anti-government propaganda, military deployment and the F.B.I. raid in Waco, Texas, radicalized Timothy McVeigh and led to the Oklahoma City attack. This is the second episode of a five-part series produced in collaboration with The WNET Group’s reporting initiative Exploring Hate.
Extremism in America: Emergence of The Order
The killing of radio host Alan Berg exposed a new kind of right-wing extremism. This is the first episode of a five-part series released in collaboration with The WNET Group’s reporting initiative Exploring Hate. This series was recognized with a 2022 Online Journalism Award for Best Digital Storytelling.
How the U.S. Has Treated Wartime Refugees
What obligation does the United States have toward people who are uprooted by war?
Why Supreme Court Confirmations Have Become So Bitter
The defeat of Robert Bork’s nomination to the Supreme Court in 1987 changed the way justices are confirmed today.
Dictators and Civil Wars: The Cold War in Latin America
Driven by fears of the rise of communism, the United States adopted a policy of containment, intervening in the politics of countries across the globe. In Latin America, the consequences of those efforts are still unfolding.
American Reckoning Trailer
An untold story of the civil rights movement. American Reckoning is produced in collaboration with PBS Frontline.
An untold story of the civil rights movement.
American Reckoning: The Bombing (Excerpt)
After civil rights leader George Metcalfe was severely injured in a car bombing, the Black community in Natchez, Miss., organized their response.
American Reckoning: Black Resistance (Excerpt)
In the face of threats from the Ku Klux Klan, a group known as the Deacons for Defense helped to protect the Black community.
American Reckoning: The Boycott (Excerpt)
The N.A.A.C.P. of Natchez, Miss., issued 12 demands for racial justice and organized a boycott of area businesses.
American Reckoning: The Legacy (Excerpt)
In 1967, N.A.A.C.P. official Wharlest Jackson was killed in a car bombing. Nearly 60 years later, his family is still looking for answers.
Presidents v. Press: How the Pentagon Papers Leak Set Up First Amendment Showdowns
Efforts to clamp down on White House leaks to the press follow a pattern that was set during the Nixon era after the publication of the Pentagon Papers.
In El Salvador, a Journalist Faces New Limits. ‘We Want to Continue Shedding Light.’
Nelson Rauda, an independent journalist, told us that El Salvador’s president, Nayib Bukele, is putting the squeeze on press freedom.
How Prop. 187 Transformed the Immigration Debate and California Politics
Today’s immigration policies echo an anti-immigration movement from the 1990s in California.
What's in a Number? Some Research Shows That a Lower B.M.I. Isn't Always Better.
Biased ideas about a link between body size and health have led many people to dismiss unexpected scientific findings.
As Massacre Survivors Seek Justice, El Salvador Grapples With 1,000 Ghosts
“Massacre in El Salvador,” a collaboration with Frontline and ProPublica, tells the story of the worst massacre in recent Latin American history, and why a final reckoning is at risk.
Gerrymandering Tilts Political Power. Here’s How Redistricting Affects Democracy.
Both parties play the redistricting game, redrawing electoral boundaries to lock down power.
Are you a teacher? Check out our teaching resources for this video.
Black Swimmers Overcome Racism and Fear, Reclaiming a Tradition
Today, drowning rates are disproportionately high among Black children. What’s being done?
9/11 Heroes: Surviving the Biggest Attack on U.S. Soil
First responders who survived 9/11 don’t want the day to be forgotten.
For teachers: This video is part of a collection of resources including four short films, each accompanied by a lesson plan and student activity.
How the Military Response to 9/11 Led to Two Decades of War in Afghanistan
Officials who drove the decades-long war in Afghanistan look back on the strategic mistakes and misjudgments that led to a 20-year quagmire.
For teachers: This video is part of a collection of resources including four short films, each accompanied by a lesson plan and student activity.
Special Education: The 50-Year Fight for the Right to Learn
Today’s special education system was shaped five decades ago, when parents fought for disabled children’s right to learn.
Bringing Midwifery Back to Black Mothers
For care in pregnancy and childbirth, Black parents are turning to a traditional practice.
Why the Cold War Race for Nuclear Weapons Is Still a Threat
Russian President Vladimir Putin controls the world’s largest nuclear arsenal, and his invasion of Ukraine is a reminder that Russia, the U.S. and many other countries have thousands of nuclear missiles, even as safeguards once in place have fallen away.
Subscribe to our newsletter for our latest work and surprises from history.
Educators, click below for this video’s accompanying lesson plan and check out our Global Cold War Collection.
Covid-19 Changed the Way We Watch Movies. The 1918 Pandemic Set the Stage.
The 1918 flu pandemic helped to usher in the Hollywood studio system. Could Covid-19 transform the industry?
How the Korean War Changed the Way the U.S. Goes to Battle
In the Cold War, North Korean Communists invaded South Korea. President Truman’s decision to intervene had consequences that shape the world today.
The Cold War on TV: Joseph McCarthy vs. Edward R. Murrow
In the heat of the Cold War, Joe McCarthy’s anti-communist crusade became a media sensation.
How the Cold War Arms Race Fueled a Sprint to the Moon
After the Soviet Union sent the first human safely into orbit, the U.S. government doubled down on its effort to win the race to the moon.
Shamed by Sex, Survivors of the Purity Movement Confront the Past
A “purity” movement in the 90s led by evangelical Christians promoted a strict view of abstinence before marriage. Today, followers are grappling with unforeseen aftershocks.
How a Cold War Airlift Saved Berlin With Food, Medicine and Chocolate
A Soviet blockade around Berlin cut the divided city off from the West. But in 1948 U.S. and British pilots began to fly food, fuel and medicine to the Allied sectors.
Racial Health Disparities Didn’t Start With Covid: The Overlooked History of Polio
The coronavirus pandemic has highlighted racial disparities with roots in the past.
Burden of Richmond Evictions Weighs Heaviest in Black Neighborhoods
An eviction moratorium has slowed filings in cities like Richmond, but it hasn’t stopped them, and Black tenants are at highest risk.
We’re Catching More Diseases From Wild Animals, and It’s Our Fault.
Scientists who venture into rainforests and bat caves explain how viruses, like Covid-19, spill over from animals to people, and what we must do to stop the next pandemic.
How Decades of Housing Discrimination Hurts Fresno in the Pandemic
Decades of discrimination in Fresno laid the groundwork for a housing crisis today.
Trump and Biden Both Want to Repeal Section 230. Would That Wreck the Internet?
Today’s heated political arguments over censorship and misinformation online are rooted in a 26-word snippet of a law that created the Internet as we know it.
Health Risks of Vaping: Lessons From the Battle With Big Tobacco
Like cigarette manufacturers decades ago, e-cigarette makers have pitched their products as fun and safe. But nobody knows what the risks are.
New York Tenants Are Organizing Against Evictions, as They Did in the Great Depression
Activists concerned about pandemic-related homelessness are seeking rent relief. In the 1930s, tenants banded together against evictions.
How to Fact-Check History
Meet Joseph Hogan, Retro Report’s fact-checker who explains what methods and processes he employs to verify the information in our stories.
Poll Watchers and the Long History of Voter Intimidation
President Trump has called on supporters, including law enforcement officers, to monitor election sites. Voter intimidation tactics have a long history.
Enemies of the People: Trump and the Political Press (Media Mistakes Excerpt)
In this Emmy Award-nominated film, top national political reporters admit mistakes in their reporting on the 2016 election campaign.
Enemies of the People: Trump and the Political Press (CNN's Missteps Excerpt)
In this Emmy Award-nominated film, CEO Jeff Zucker acknowledges missteps in CNN’s 2016 campaign coverage, when many media outlets covered Donald Trump’s campaign as a spectacle.
Enemies of the People: Trump and the Political Press (False Equivalency Excerpt)
This Emmy Award-nominated film looks at how the journalistic instinct for “balanced” reporting on Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump in 2016 played out.
Bush v. Gore: How a Recount Dispute Affects Voting Today
The dramatic controversy surrounding the 2000 presidential election led to sweeping voting reforms, but opened the door to a new set of problems that continue to affect elections today.
Enemies of the People: Trump and the Political Press (Historical Excerpt)
This Emmy Award-nominated film explores tensions between the press and presidents, charges of liberal media bias and the decline in public trust in journalism. Watch the documentary.
Enemies of the People: Trump and the Political Press
In this hour-long film, nominated for two 2021 Emmy Awards, journalists who covered Donald Trump during the 2016 race for the White House critique their role in the former president’s rise to power.
Enemies of the People: Trump and the Political Press (Trailer)
In this Emmy Award-nominated film, journalists who covered the 2016 presidential campaign now offer a candid analysis of their role in President Trump’s rise to power.
Tenants Facing Eviction Over Covid-19 Look to a 1970s Solution
An idea from a tenant rebellion in the 70s could help renters facing eviction.
Political Debates: What the Unforgettable Moments Reveal
High-stakes debates put candidates in the hot seat. But are they helpful to voters?
Working Sick During Covid: What We Learned from Swine Flu
‘Stay home if you’re sick’ is time-tested advice. But not all workers can afford it.
The Domestic Violence Case That Turned Outrage Into Action
The ‘Burning Bed’ killing put domestic violence in the headlines.
How Black Women Fought Racism and Sexism for the Right to Vote
African American women played a significant and sometimes overlooked role in the struggle to gain the vote.
What the Bungled Response to HIV Can Teach Us About Dealing With Covid-19
Politics, public health and a pandemic. What we didn’t learn from HIV.
Racial Inequality Was Tearing the U.S. Apart, a 1968 Report Warned. It Was Ignored.
Anger over policing and inequality boiled over in 1967 in protests and violence across the United States. A landmark report warned that without major changes, it would happen again.
From Women’s Suffrage to the ERA, a Century-Long Push for Equality
The Equal Rights Amendment, proposed nearly 100 years ago, sparked debate from its very beginning, even among many of the women who had worked together for suffrage.
Why History Urges Caution on Immunity Testing
After past outbreaks, workers with proof of antibodies were in demand. But history urges caution.
American Samoa Dodged a Pandemic in 1918. Here’s What We Learned.
Two territories, two wildly different outcomes as a pandemic terrorized the world.
Coronavirus Has a Playlist. Songs About Disease Go Way Back.
Coronavirus songwriting has gone as global as the pandemic itself, creating a new genre called pandemic pop. It’s a tradition with a long history.
Coronavirus Reignites a Fight Over Rights of Detained Migrant Children
Migrant children in federal custody have tested positive for Covid-19, reopening a legal battle over the rights of children in custody.
Coronavirus, Smoking, Vaping: Studies From the Past That Alarm Scientists
COVID-19 attacks the lungs. Past research shows that smoking and vaping may amplify the coronavirus.
Coronavirus: Lessons From Past Epidemics
Dr. Larry Brilliant, who helped eradicate smallpox, says past epidemics can teach us to fight coronavirus.
Meatless Burgers Are on Trend. Eating to Save the World Has a Long History.
Plant-based meats may be high tech, but the ideas behind them have been around for decades.
Do Whistleblower Protections Work? Ask This One.
A whistleblower case from 2010 reveals the peril faced by whistleblowers seeking to expose wrongdoing.
From Napster to Netflix: The History and Impact of Streaming Services
After Napster, many consumers got used to entertainment on demand. There was no turning back.
Combating the Myth of the Superpredator
In the 1990s, a handful of researchers inspired panic with a dire but flawed prediction: the imminent arrival of a new breed of “superpredators.”
Teaching Teens About Sex: The Decades-Old Debate over Abstinence-Only
A decades-old battle is re-emerging over abstinence-only sex education.
AIDS: From Ryan White to Today's Silent Epidemic
While H.I.V. rates have fallen in many places, the AIDS crisis remains in some of the U.S.
Lessons From the Challenger Tragedy
Normalization of deviance, the process of becoming inured to risky actions, is a useful concept that was developed to explain how the Challenger disaster happened.
Send In the Special Ops Forces
The rise of special operations units today can be traced to two historic military missions: one a legendary success, the other a spectacular failure.
The Misunderstood McDonald's Hot Coffee Lawsuit
Stella Liebeck was vilified when she was awarded millions after spilling McDonald’s coffee in her lap. Her complaint sounded frivolous. But the facts told another story.
Trump’s Immigration Rhetoric Echoes a Bitter Fight from the 90s
Today’s immigration policies echo an anti-immigration movement 25 years ago in California.
Population Bomb: The Overpopulation Theory That Fell Flat
In the 1960s, fears of overpopulation sparked talk of population control. So what happened?
Hard Risks: Concussions in Sports, From the Boxing Ring to the Gridiron
As concussions plague football, are there lessons from earlier concerns about boxing?
The Surprising Legacy of the Boy in the Bubble
Newborns today are tested for genetic and immune disorders that might not be apparent at birth. The tests evolved from the treatment of a patient with a rare diagnosis who became known as “the Boy in the Bubble.”
Could We Geoengineer Ourselves Out of Climate Change?
Is geo-engineering the climate an answer to global warming? Cold War science has some lessons.
Lingering Peril From Lead Paint
About half a million children have dangerously high lead levels in their blood, mostly from exposure to peeling paint and contaminated dust. The fight over who should clean it up has lasted for decades.
Born by Surrogate: New Paths to Parenthood
Parenthood through surrogacy has become accepted in the United States, but it’s relatively unregulated compared with other countries – something that can be traced back to case of Baby M.
Could a Simple Intervention Fight a Suicide Crisis?
A simple intervention to reduce suicides – “caring letters,” messages of compassion and empathy – showed promise in the 1960s, but has been overlooked until now.
Horses: Wild, But Not Free
There are now so many wild horses on public land – nearly 100,000 – that they have become caught in a battle between the government, ranchers and environmentalists.
The Birth of Free Agency
The drama of modern free agency has become as much a part of professional sports as the games themselves. But it wasn’t always that way. Today’s free agents owe a big debt of gratitude to Curt Flood.
How Fear of the Measles Vaccine Took Hold
Skepticism and fear surrounding vaccines were fed by a flawed study done in 1998 linking the MMR vaccine to autism. The study was quickly discredited, we’re still dealing with the repercussions.
A Barge Full of Garbage Helped to Fuel a Recycling Movement
In the 1980s, rising public awareness about waste was fueled by a bizarre news story about a meandering New York City garbage barge.
LSD Gets Another Look
LSD has long been associated with 1960s counterculture. Today, psychedelic drugs are back in the lab, providing hope for people who suffer from anxiety, depression and addiction.
She Rocked the Pentagon
After a sexual assault scandal at the Tailhook convention rocked the Navy in 1991, one female officer, Paula Coughlin, launched a campaign to change military culture.
The Modern Bystander Effect
Why don’t people intervene when they encounter violence streaming live online?
DNA Clues Solve Crimes . . . With a Privacy Cost
DNA information that is available on genealogy websites is doing more than satisfying curiosity – it’s solving crimes.
Tabletop to Tablet: Using Dungeons & Dragons to Combat Screen Addiction
The role-playing game Dungeons & Dragons, once at the center of a moral panic, is now seen as a counterbalance to the problem of screen addiction.
Thalidomide: Return of an Infamous Pill
How a pill that led to drug safety guidelines became a case study for rising drug prices.
Are Robots Really Taking Over?
Humans are wary that robots could replace them. So what can we learn from the legendary chess match between a supercomputer and Garry Kasparov?
Athletes vs. Injustice: Protests in Sports
When N.F.L. players, starting with Colin Kaepernick, took a knee during the National Anthem to protest they ignited an uproar over injecting politics onto the playing field.
Online All the Time? Researchers Predicted It.
Our social media addiction is explained by theories pioneered by B.F. Skinner decades ago.
Sexual Misconduct at Work, Again
The #MeToo movement is shedding renewed light on sexual harassment at work. The fight has a decades-long history.
This Snake Is Eating the Everglades
Burmese pythons released into the wild by well-meaning pet owners have created a reptilian nightmare in the Everglades.
Israel Survived an Early Challenge With War Planes Smuggled by U.S. Vets
In 1948, World War II aviators risked their lives in a secret operation to smuggle weapons and planes to the Israeli military.
Can We Teach Cars to Drive? It's an Uphill Challenge.
Autonomous vehicle technology has gotten better, but how close are we really to a time when a robot chauffeur will be able to safely drive us?
The Moon’s Lasting Pull
Our moon has winked from the heavens as a symbol and anchor, reminding us not only the cycle of life, but also of danger and death. Scientists have brought the moon into sharper focus, and astronauts have left the first footprints there. But will we ever be able to explain its lasting, mesmerizing power of attraction?
Space Law: The Next Generation
An international treaty laid out the basics of space law in 1967. But without a lot of case history to go on, lawyers today have looked to maritime law and Arctic exploration as they lay the groundwork for how space will be governed.
Future of Aging
Across the globe, more and more people are living longer lives and that’s redefining what it means to be over 65, and what the future might mean for retirement.
Perp Walks: When Police Roll Out the Blue Carpet
Perp walk: Unfair maneuver or a strong warning to would-be criminals?
Future of College
Online learning is indeed disrupting college as we know it – but not in the way you might think.
How a Folk Singer’s Murder Forced Chile to Confront Its Past
Víctor Jara was a legendary Chilean folk singer and political activist, whose brutal killing during a military coup in 1973 went unsolved for decades. Now, his family may finally get justice.
Future of Water
The increasing scarcity of drinking water is beginning to capture the world’s attention – but surprisingly, an innovative solution might just be found in one of the Earth’s driest places.
Future of Gaming
As gaming becomes the dominant form of entertainment this century, game developers increasingly track player behavior to tailor experiences that will keep people playing longer and spending more money.
The Roots of Evangelicals’ Political Fervor
White evangelical Christians are among President Trump’s most important supporters. But more than 40 years ago, they were on the margins of American politics.
Genetic Screening: Controlling Heredity
With every new advance in prenatal genetic screening, the ability to prevent suffering has also sparked difficult questions about what should count as “a disease” versus “a difference,” and whether we’re in danger of wiping out certain segments of the population. This story was produced in collaboration with PBS, American Experience.
Abortion Was Illegal. This Secret Group Defied the Law
The Supreme Court has reversed Roe v. Wade, the 1973 ruling that established the constitutional right to abortion. We tell the story of the Jane Collective, which provided thousands of illegal abortions from 1969 to 1973.
For Private Prisons, Detaining Immigrants Is Big Business
An inmate population surge in the 1980s led to the growth of for-profit prisons. Today, despite their mixed record, private prison companies are overseeing the vast majority of undocumented migrants.
Operation Ceasefire: Inside a Community's Radical Approach to Gang Violence
This is the story of cops, African-American pastors, gang members, and academics coming together to create positive change for Boston, while upending notions of traditional policing in a way that is especially pertinent today.
Future of Cities
In the latest installment of our “What Happens Next” series examining the future of society, we visit Medellín, Colombia—a city that has reinvented itself over the past few decades, turning its violent past into a sustainable future by transforming its slums.
A Trusted Pill Turned Deadly. How Tylenol Made a Comeback
How do some companies regain public trust after something goes seriously wrong, while others fail? A look at how Tylenol responded after someone spiked its pills with poison in the 1980s sheds some light.
Biosphere 2: A Faulty Mars Survival Test Gets a Second Act
NASA isn’t the first organization to experiment with living on Mars – in 1991 eight people sealed themselves inside a giant glass biosphere to practice space living. By the time they emerged two years later, they had “suffocated, starved and went mad.”
From Y2K to 2038, Lessons Learned from First Computer Crisis
The Y2K bug threatened to wipe out computers and disrupt modern society at the end of the 20th century. We all remember the doomsday hype, but what really happened?
Trump Administration Sued for Torpedoing Enforcement of Landmark Housing Law
Ben Carson, Secretary of HUD, is being sued for not enforcing the Fair Housing Act – landmark legislation that was passed 50 years ago during the Civil Rights era.
Blazes That Damaged Yellowstone Changed Wildfire Strategy
A rapidly growing California wildfire is threatening a grove of giant Sequoia trees in Yosemite National Park, some nearly 3,000 years old. For context, we examine the 1988 fires in Yellowstone National Park that ignited a debate over firefighting tactics and sustainable forestry.
Where the Debate Over "Designer Babies" Began
Genetic technology is advancing, and critics are warning of a slippery slope. We speak with the scientists working at the forefront of the research, families who have benefited and the first-ever “test-tube” baby to understand the debate.
She Derailed the Fight for Equal Rights for Women
Even in the #MeToo era, many people don’t know that the Equal Rights Amendment never passed…because of one woman. Her name is Phyllis Schlafly.
Why We Can't Have a Civil Conversation About Guns
In the 1980s, the attempted assassination of Ronald Reagan and the shooting of his press secretary, Jim Brady, led to the Brady Bill. Decades later, are there lessons from that fight for the Parkland students?
Old Attitudes on Addiction Are Changing. So Are Treatments.
Overdose deaths are skyrocketing, forcing researchers to find new ways to think about and treat addiction.
Selling the Code: Can Genetic Testing Services Really Predict Your Future?
Today, companies market genetic tests for everything from cancer to diet and exercise. But how much can tests like 23andme really predict?
Fixing the Code: Genetically Engineering Your DNA to Cure Disease
For the past 20 years, scientists have been trying to cure disease by altering DNA. We examine how with CRISPR Cas-9 gene editing and the revival of gene therapy, they’re closer than ever.
The NFL Draft 20 Years After Manning-Leaf: How Teams Try to Pick a Winner
After the 1998 NFL draft produced one of the greatest busts in history, what have we learned about the science of evaluating human talent – on and off the field?
Finding the Code: The Race to Sequence the Human Genome and What It Means
One of biology’s most spectacular achievements – the race to sequence the human genome – was billed as a way to end disease. Here’s where it led.
Us vs. Them: From George Wallace to Donald Trump
Donald Trump has used populist politics to appeal to voters who are fed up with the status quo. We look at another politician who tapped into America’s divisions decades ago: George Wallace.
What History Can Teach Us About Mass Killings
A century ago, a culture rid itself of the problem of mass murder. How did that happen and what can the modern-day world learn from it?
Myths and Misperceptions about Eating Disorders
Thirty million people will suffer from eating disorders in their lifetime, yet decades after Karen Carpenter died from anorexia, myths about eating disorders continue.
Raising Doubts About Evolution… in Science Class
A skepticism of science has seeped into the classroom, and it’s revived attacks on one of the most established principles of biology – evolution.
How ISIS Resembles the Doomsday Cults of the 1970s
Can the lessons we learned from extremist cults decades ago be used to fight ISIS recruitment today?
Future of Work
A remote Oregon mountainside offers a window into the workplace of the future.
Future of Money
Future of Money, the first in a 5-part series, looks at what ancient stones on a tiny Pacific island can teach us about Bitcoin, blockchains and the future of money.
Future of Home
Guatemalan homesteaders and a Michigan contractor are riding a wave that could change how our lives are wired.
Future of Fact
Online manipulation and immersive media have begun to eradicate our shared notion of authenticity and trust. How will society change when we can no longer believe what we see, hear, or think?
Future of Food
A small South Dakota farm holds lessons for feeding a crowded and less predictable world.
'Why Hasn't Sexual Harassment Disappeared?'
From naming the problem in the 1970s, to bringing it out of the shadows in the 90s, to a growing accountability today – the evolution of sexual harassment in the workplace.
Reproductive Rights and the Women Who Sparked a Movement
As the U.S. tightens restrictions on women’s reproductive health, the new season of The Handmaid’s Tale seems more relevant than ever. We look back on a group of women who broke sexual taboos in the 1970s, and how the fight over women’s bodies continues today.
Conspiracy Theories and Fake News from JFK to Pizzagate
Retro Report explores decades of conspiracy theories – from the John F. Kennedy assassination to Pizzagate – and what they can tell us about how we view the world today.
Lobotomy: A Dangerous Fad's Lingering Effect on Mental Illness Treatment
From the 1930s to the 1950s a radical surgery – the Lobotomy – would forever change our understanding and treatment of the mentally ill.
Suing the President: The Students Who Challenged the Travel Ban
With the release of Donald Trump’s new travel ban, a brief look at a Yale group that fought the original ban.
Sanctuary Cities: An Uproar That Began Long Ago
As deportations of unauthorized immigrants rose under President Donald Trump, some churches and cities declared themselves sanctuaries and shielded migrants from immigration enforcement.
Guantanamo Bay has become a symbol of the war on terror, but its story actually begins a decade before, when it was first used to detain thousands of Haitians outside the reach of U.S. law. This story was created in collaboration with NPR and PBS, FRONTLINE.
Rachel Carson’s Warning on D.D.T. Ignited an Environmental Movement
Author Rachel Carson’s strike against the pesticide DDT turned her into both an environmental hero and a foil for those who believe regulation has gone too far. That fight is more relevant than ever.
Could You Patent the Sun?
Decades after Dr. Jonas Salk opposed patenting the polio vaccine, the pharmaceutical industry has changed. What does that mean for the development of innovative drugs and for people whose lives depend on them?
Activating a Generation: From Live Aid to the Ice Bucket Challenge
Thirty years after “Live Aid” changed the face of charity fundraising, clicktivism has taken center stage. If you share, re-tweet and like, are you making the world a better place?
Princess Diana Brought Attention to Land Mines, but Their Danger Lingers
In the late 1990s, Princess Diana brought public attention to land mine victims. But, more than two decades after her death, how much progress has been made in the worldwide fight against leftover munitions?
The Populist Politician and California's Property Tax Revolt
In 1978, voters passed Proposition 13, lowering taxes for millions of California homeowners. Decades later, what has it meant for California?
How Zero Tolerance Blurred the Lines Between Schools and Criminal Justice
Over the last 30 years, schools across the country have enacted tough new discipline policies. Some of those schools say they went too far.
Upheaval at the 1860 Democratic Convention: What Happened When a Party Split
Some issues are too fundamental for a party to withstand, and the consequences can last for a generation.
Lessons from the 2004 Democratic Convention: Obama's Speech
Sometimes the most important speech at the convention isn’t delivered by the nominee.
Lessons from the 1924 Democratic Convention: An Immigration Debate's Impact
Immigration has been a defining issue in a campaign before, and the consequences transformed the Democratic Party.
Lessons from the 1912 Republican Convention: Birth of the Modern Primary
The animosity between William Howard Taft and Theodore Roosevelt changed the primary process forever.
The Birth of the U.S. Political Convention in 1831
In 1831, a radical third party had a new idea for selecting a presidential candidate, and it’s still in use today: the national nominating convention.
Lessons From the 1964 Republican Convention: Declaring War on the Establishment
Donald Trump’s candidacy wasn’t the first time the Republican Party was split by an outsider declaring war on the establishment elite.
Lessons from the 1968 Democratic Convention: Under the Shadow of Protests
There are important lessons to be learned from the Democrats’ 1968 Chicago convention.
Lessons from the 1976 Republican Convention: Why Ronald Reagan Lost the Nomination|
In 1976, Ronald Reagan found owning the soul of a party isn’t the same as taking home its nomination.
Smoking Man: Political Ads That Shaped the Battle for the White House
In the 2012 Republican primary, Herman Cain’s campaign produced an unusual video featuring Cain’s chief of staff, Mark Block, giving a pep talk while smoking a cigarette.
The Rock: Political Ads That Shaped the Battle for the White House
In 2007, long-shot Democratic candidate Mike Gravel released one of the strangest ads in political history.
Willie Horton: Political Ads That Shaped the Battle for the White House
The infamous Willie Horton ad placed a nail in the coffin of Michael Dukakis’ 1988 presidential run.
Morning in America: Political Ads That Shaped the Battle for the White House
Future “warm and fuzzy” ads can trace their lineage to this one. For his reelection campaign, Ronald Reagan employed a team of advertising all-stars, resulting in one of the most famous catchphrases in American politics.
It's 3:00 a.m.: Political Ads That Shaped the Battle for the White House
After a string of critical losses in the 2008 Democratic primary, Hillary Clinton’s campaign put out a hard-hitting ad that questioned Barack Obama’s readiness for the White House.
Daisy: Political Ads That Shaped the Battle for the White House
Perhaps the most famous political ad of all time, this early television spot ran on air just once, but generated enough media coverage to become a real factor in the 1964 presidential election.
The Mommy Wars
The Mommy Wars were billed as the nastiest fight in American parenting, and actually fueled by a decades-old blunder. This story was produced in collaboration with Quartz.
The Outrage Machine
In the digital age, where everyday people can suddenly become public enemy number one, how do we strike the balance between keeping free speech alive online and preventing a cyber mob from taking over?
The story of the veterans who witnessed secret atomic testing and how their decades-long struggle for recognition affects soldiers today. This story is a coproduction with Reveal, from The Center for Investigative Reporting.
Welfare and the Politics of Poverty
Bill Clinton’s 1996 welfare reform was supposed to move needy families off government handouts and onto a path out of poverty. Twenty years later, how has it turned out?
A Change of Heart
The artificial heart became a media sensation in the 1980s as it both raised hopes and spread controversy. Today its impact on medical science is still playing out in surprising ways.
For decades the United States has been on a quest to perfect stealth technology, but development of the F-35 fighter jet shows just how complicated dreams can become.
What Is a Healthy Diet? The Answers Are Unsatisfying
Thirty-five years after the first dietary guidelines, how much do we really know about the science behind a healthy diet?
How Heroin Addiction's Rural Spread Changed the War on Drugs
From time to time over the past 40 years, efforts were made to treat heroin addiction as a public health instead of a crime problem. But they were not successful.
Free Speech VS Censorship: Warnings From Explicit Lyrics to Trigger Warnings
Offended by lyrics they deemed too sexual and violent, Tipper Gore and Susan Baker campaigned to put warning labels on albums in 1985. Years later, warning labels have ended up in some unexpected places.
Argentina's Stolen Babies, and the Grandmothers Leading the Search
The Mothers and Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo, a group of women dedicated to finding babies who were taken by Argentina’s military regime in the 1970s and 1980s, have reunited their 130th family.
Lessons from Columbine About School Shootings and Media Misinformation
The killing of twelve students and a teacher at Columbine High School in 1999 continues to shape how we view and understand school shootings today.
The Nanny Murder Case: Shaken Baby Syndrome on Trial
In 1997, a young British nanny charged with murder brought shaken baby syndrome into the national spotlight, and raised a scientific debate that continues to shape child abuse cases today.
How a Standoff with the Black Panthers Fueled the Rise of SWAT
S.W.A.T. teams, specially trained police teams, have been used increasingly in routine matters like serving drug warrants, sometimes with disastrous results.
From Crack Babies to Oxytots: Lessons Not Learned
In the 1980s, many government officials, scientists, and journalists warned that the country would be plagued by a generation of “crack babies.” They were wrong. More than 25 years later, the media is sounding a similar alarm.
Why Waco is Still a Battleground in the 2nd Amendment Debate
In 1993, federal agents raided the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas, and generated a legacy that continues to shape antigovernment groups today.
E. Coli Outbreaks Changed Food Production, But How Safe Are We?
A 1993 E. coli outbreak linked Jack in the Box hamburgers sickened 700 people and acted as a wake up call about the dangers of food-borne illness. Decades later, how far have we really come in terms of food safety?
Fire Safety and Chemicals in Our Clothing
There are over 80,000 chemicals in use today. The story of Tris, a fire retardant that was once used to treat children’s pajamas, but was banned as a carcinogen in the 1970s, illustrates the challenge of regulating chemicals.
He's the only CIA Contractor to be Convicted in a Torture-related Case
The story of the first and only interrogator connected to the CIA to be convicted in a torture-related case.
For teachers: This video is part of a collection of resources including four short films, each accompanied by a lesson plan and student activity.
A Right to Die?
Should doctors be allowed to help suffering patients die? In 1990, with his homemade suicide machine, Dr. Jack Kevorkian raised that question. It’s an issue Americans still struggle with today.
How Geography Drove MLK's Fight for a Ferry in Alabama
Weeks before Selma’s Bloody Sunday in 1965, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. urged residents of Gee’s Bend, Ala., to vote, and fed a continuing fight over a small ferry that would last for decades.
Power Line Fears
News media coverage in the 1980s and early 1990s fueled fears of a national cancer epidemic caused by power lines and generated a debate that still lingers today.
Is Multiple Personality Disorder Real? One Woman's Story
In the 1970s, the TV movie “Sybil” introduced much of the nation to multiple personality disorder and launched a controversy that continues to resonate.
A Mother, a Dingo and an Australian Media Frenzy
In 1982, an Australian mother was convicted of murdering her baby daughter. She was later exonerated, but soon fell victim to a joke that distracted the world from the real story.
The Murder of US Churchwomen in El Salvador That Exposed a Government Coverup
The murder of four American churchwomen focused attention on the United States’ involvement in El Salvador. Decades later, the case continues to take surprising turns.
Reintroducing Wolves to Yellowstone was a Success. That's When Trouble Began.
In the 1990s, the federal government reintroduced the gray wolf to Yellowstone National Park. It was considered a big success. And that’s when the real fight began.
How the Shootout at Ruby Ridge Resonates in the Gun Debate Today
When armed suspects stand off against the law today, one event continues to cast a shadow on both sides of the police line: the 1992 siege at Ruby Ridge.
How Prozac Turned Depression Medication into a Cultural Phenomenon
When Prozac was introduced in 1988, the green-and-cream pill to treat depression launched a cultural revolution that continues to echo.
The Surprising Technological Revolution Launched by the Air Bag
How did cars become “computers on wheels,” so automated that some are about to start driving themselves? The story begins forty-five years ago with a quest to make cars safer and the battle over the air bag.
Flawed Evidence: The Limits of Science in the Crime Lab
Before DNA testing, prosecutors relied on less sophisticated forensic techniques, including microscopic hair analysis, to put criminals behind bars. But how reliable was hair analysis?
Agent Orange: Last Chapter of the Vietnam War
The use of the defoliant Agent Orange during the Vietnam War continues to cast a dark shadow over both American veterans and Vietnamese citizens.
Her Vegetative State Caused Congress, President Bush and Even the Pope to Weigh In
The controversy over Terri Schiavo’s case elevated a family matter into a political battle that continues to frame end-of-life issues today.
Earthquake Readiness: How the San Franciso 1989 Quake Shook Awareness
The 1989 earthquake that shook San Francisco sent out a wake up call that continues to echo across the country.
The Shame of the Church
Sexual abuse in the Catholic Church has been making headlines for years. Some priests have been punished, but what about the bishops who shielded them?
The Fly That Quarantined California and Pitted Environmentalists Against Farmers
In the summer of 1981, the Mediterranean fruit fly spread through California’s Santa Clara Valley, infesting backyard fruit trees and threatening the state’s $14 billion agricultural industry.
The Preschool Sex Abuse Case that Changed How Molestation is Investigated
The nightmare began in 1983 when a 39-year-old mother called the police department in Manhattan Beach, California and accused a teacher at the McMartin Preschool, Raymond Buckey, of molesting her two and a half-year old son.
The Minneapolis Bridge Collapse that Sounded the Alarm on US Infrastructure
At the height of rush hour on August 1, 2007 a bridge carrying eight lanes of I-35W traffic over the Mississippi River suddenly collapsed, sending cars and trucks plunging into the water below.
Stealing J. Edgar Hoover's Secrets
Long before Edward Snowden leaked highly classified government secrets, there was the greatest heist you’ve never heard of. On March 8, 1971, a group of eight Vietnam War protesters broke into an F.B.I. field office in Media, Pa., and stole hundreds of government documents containing information that shocked the nation.
Crime and Punishment: Three Strikes and You’re Out
After the 1993 murder of a California child, many states passed laws to lock up repeat offenders for life, but today those laws are raising new questions about how crime is handled in America.
Toxic Waste in the Neighborhood: The Love Canal Disaster
In 1978, toxic chemicals leaking from an old landfill thrust an upstate New York community called “Love Canal” into the national headlines, and made it synonymous with “environmental disaster.”
Wrongly Accused of Terrorism: The Sleeper Cell That Wasn't
Six days after 9/11, the FBI’s raid on a sleeper cell signaled America’s resolve to fight terrorism. But, despite a celebrated conviction, there was one problem–they were wrong.
Blackout: Understanding the US Power Grid's Vulnerability from the 2003 Failure
In 2003, a blackout crippled areas of the U.S. and Canada, leaving some 50 million people in the dark. Years later, we are still grappling with concerns over the vulnerability of our power grid.
The Long War on Cancer
When President Richard Nixon vowed to make curing cancer a national crusade, many anticipated quick results. But decades later, what have we really accomplished?
Hurricane Katrina's Aftermath and Lessons in Dealing with Disaster
Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast in 2005, and Louisiana’s troubled housing recovery has shaped the response to every major disaster since, including Hurricane Sandy.
How Cloning a Sheep Set Off a Sci Fi Panic
In 1997, Scottish scientists announced they had cloned a sheep and named her Dolly, and sent waves of future shock around the world that continue to shape frontiers of science today.
Richard Jewell: The Wrong Man
The 1996 Olympics in Atlanta were rocked by a bomb that killed one and injured more than 100. In the rush to find the perpetrator, one man became a target. There was only one problem. He was innocent.
Walter Reed: The Battle for Recovery
In 2007, the scandalous treatment of wounded soldiers at Walter Reed Army Medical Center shocked the nation. Today, after major reforms, what’s changed for America’s injured soldiers?
In the wake of the 1993 hit movie Free Willy, activists and fans campaigned to release the movie’s star – a captive killer whale named Keiko – and launched a story Hollywood couldn’t invent.
GMO Food Fears and the First Test Tube Tomato
In the 1990s, a bunch of gene jockeys brought the first genetically engineered food to market. The business crashed but biotech science has flourished far beyond the produce aisle.
The Tawana Brawley Story
In 1988, the nation learned the truth about the alleged crimes against Tawana Brawley, but the shocking story was far from over.
The Crack Baby Scare: From Faulty Science to Media Panic
In the 1980s, images of tiny, jittery “crack babies” caused social outcry – crack-addicted pregnant mothers were prosecuted and the media warned that a generation of “crack babies” would plague our country. Turns out… they were wrong.