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Why Expository Documentaries Matter

In a society that is increasingly driven by entertainment and clickbait, it’s easy to forget the power that documentaries have to inform and change the world. Expository documentaries are a particularly powerful subgenre because they use facts and investigative journalism to shine a light on important issues and spark much-needed conversations.

What Makes a Good Expository Documentary?

A good expository documentary will have several key elements that make it both informative and entertaining. First, it should have a clear thesis or focus. The best documentaries zero in on a specific issue or story and explore it in depth. 

Second, it should be well-researched. A good expository documentary will include interviews with experts, footage of events as they happen, and statistics or other data to support its claims. 

Third, it should be well-structured. A good documentary will tell a coherent story that keeps viewers engaged from beginning to end. Finally, a good documentary will leave viewers feeling moved or motivated to take action.

The History of Investigative Journalism as a Documentary

In the early days of news media, investigative journalism was often referred to as “muckraking.” This term came about during the Progressive Era in the United States, when journalists like Upton Sinclair and Lincoln Steffens were known for their exposés on government corruption and social injustice. These journalists helped to bring about important changes in American society, and their work is still revered today.

While the term “muckraking” is no longer used to describe investigative journalism, the practice is still very much alive and well. In recent years, investigative journalists have uncovered stories of corruption in both the private and public sectors, as well as stories of abuses of power and human rights violations. These stories, whether they be delivered by print, news media or documentary, have led to resignations, firings, criminal charges, and even prison sentences.

The Power of Expository Documentaries

Expository documentaries have the power to change society because they educate viewers 

about important issues and inspire them to take action. For example, “The Thin Blue Line” is a 1988 documentary about the wrongful conviction of Randall Adams for the murder of a police officer. The film’s director, Errol Morris, used interviews, reenactments, and archival footage to investigate the case and ultimately helped get Adams exonerated. “The Thin Blue Line” is just one example of how expository documentaries can make a real difference in the world.

Expository documentaries are an important tool for sparking conversation and effecting change. They are powerful because they use facts and investigative journalism to shine a light on important issues. If you’re interested in making your own expository documentary, be sure to keep these elements in mind: focus, research, structure, and emotion. With these elements in place, you can produce a documentary that informs and inspires viewers to take action on important issues.

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