[The TV Documentary:  Program Promotion on the Web 







documentary film & video

Definition | Purpose | Television as a Medium | Web Promotion


John Grierson is remembered as the "father of documentary film." Nonetheless, his statement that documentary is a "creative treatment of reality" is not held by many in the industry. Such a definition allows too much freedom to the form of the documentary film genre. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences states that documentary films are defined as "those dealing with historical, social, scientific, or economic subjects, either photographed in actual occurrence or re-enacted, and where the emphasis is more on factual content than that on entertainment (1)."


Documentary can be either a very individual or a collective process from start to finish. It can involve just one person, making the film from beginning to end, or many, perhaps as part of a company unit. The ultimate result is a finished product, held up for appraisal by the audience. This leads to the documentarian's greatest responsibility: to showcase the final product.

television as a medium

One of the premiere venues for documentary film and video is the television. The most popular outlet for the Television Documentary is still PBS. Television remains an effective means of reaching the general audience (5). Much like theatrically released films, television broadcasted documentaries must pull in an audience. The best way to do so is by promotion.

web promotion

On-line promotion of the documentary not only encourages viewership, but establishes a mergeence of technology and program content. The World Wide Web allows the audience to become active participants in programming while learning and being entertained - two fundamental elements included in the broader definition of documentary. If promoting a PBS televised program the web site's focus most be on high quality, educational content that goes beyond the promotion of the broadcast (3).

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