California Newsreel has produced and distributed cutting-edge social issue films for activists and educators since 1968. Today it is the oldest, independent non-profit documentary center in the country and the first systematically to integrate media production and distribution with the media needs of contemporary social change movements.
Media Resources for African American Educators and Communities
Over the past five decades, California Newsreel .has become a leading resource center for advancing racial justice through its unparalleled collection of films on African American and African life and history. This course was already charted by our first two productions in 1969, collaborations with the Black Panther Party and the organizers of the first Ethnic Studies Department in the country. Since then we have regularly acquired distinguished documentaries on topics of pressing concern to African American communities. During the 1980s, California Newsreel provided many of the audiovisual resources used by the anti-Apartheid movement and, upon its triumph, broadened our collection into the largest library of African-produced features and documentaries in the United States. .In the 1990s, California Newsreel releases, such as Ethnic Notions and Skin Deep, played a useful role on campuses across America in introducing multicultural education and diversity awareness. Today we distribute more than 150 titles on African American and African topics on DVD as well as the leading digital delivery formats – site/local streaming, video-on-demand subscriptions, online database collections and digital rental.
Multi-Media Production Initiatives
California Newsreel has produced three of the most ambitious and widely-used, social change media projects of the 21st century, each designed to provide a comprehensive package of film and online resources for organizers and educators working on specific issues of urgent public concern. In 2003,
California Newsreel released Race - The Power of an Illusion a three-part public television series, which is now a standard text for the study of race in contemporary American society. This was followed in 2008 by Unnatural Causes: Is Inequality Making Us Sick? a seven-part, multi-media series exploring
root causes of the nationís alarming class and racial inequities in health. It
won a duPont-Columbia Award, Best Film/Radio/TV show of the year by the National
Academies of Sciences and the Institute of Medicine among many other honors.
In 2015 California Newsreel completed and released, The Raising of America: Early Childhood and the Future of Our
Nation, a transmedia series tracing the complex links between growing
social inequality, inadequate investment in young children and their families
and health, prosperity and equity. More than 600 organizations have joined a
public engagement campaign to start new conversations which ask how we might
better provide the conditions all children need for a strong start. Beginning
November 1, 2015, Public Television stations across the United States will start
broadcasting the seriesí signature hour.
Rethinking Social Change Media Production
Close to fifty years of distributing media for social change, California Newsreel consistently noted a disparity between the social issue films our film users say they need and the social issue films funded and produced - severely limiting the audience and impact of activist media in American public life. Newsreel decided to reduce the role of serendipity in our own productions by developing and implementing an innovative, user-based social action media design paradigm. In this process, we first ascertain the needs, preferences and goals of a project’s intended users and only then collaborate with them in designing and producing the most effective and efficient trans-media solutions. This procedure is more fully described in "Towards Accountability: An Essay in Collaborative Activist Media Production", "Before You Shoot: What Every Producer Should Know", and "Educational Film Distribution".