Democracy on Deadline: The Global Struggle for an Independent Press

to have its television premiere on PBS, Tuesday, November 21, at 10pm (check local listings)

Film to air as part of Independent Lens November salute to politics and journalism in America and beyond
Murdered Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya featured

Visit the program companion website 

(San Francisco)—A free press keeps a democracy honest. When journalists perform their role as society’s informer, watchdog, and conscience, unencumbered by state or corporate interests, they provide citizens with the tools needed for self-governance. But when governments infringe on journalists’ ability to investigate and report information, a free society suffers. As we see in DEMOCRACY ON DEADLINE, journalists here and around the world put their lives in danger daily to ensure that those in power are kept accountable to the people. Sadly, one of the journalists featured, Anna Politkovskaya, was murdered in Moscow on October 7, 2006, as a direct result of her fearless reporting. DEMOCRACY ON DEADLINE will have its television premiere on the Emmy Award-winning PBS series Independent Lens, hosted by Terrence Howard, on Tuesday, November 21, at 10pm (check local listings). 

Also airing during November’s salute to politics and journalism are PAUL CONRAD: DRAWING FIRE (November 7), about the legendary political cartoonist, and TWO SQUARE MILES, about a small town fighting for its future (November 28). 

DEMOCRACY ON DEADLINE introduces viewers to several international journalists who are dedicated to reporting the truth under some of the most difficult circumstances. In Sierra Leone, young journalists struggle to cover the country’s first election after a brutal civil war; in Mexico, television journalist Ricardo Rocha’s relentless investigations cost him his job; in Nigeria, reporter Chris Anyanwu is sent to prison for three years, only to emerge vowing that now “the government knows it can never silence the press again and get away with it.” And in Russia, journalist Anna Politkovskaya’s criticisms of Putin’s policies led to death threats and, ultimately, her murder. Through the story of Haaretz, Israel’s paper of record, we see how the paper’s intrepid reporters persevere in their mission to bring Israelis critical news, even when doing so threatens the paper’s very survival. The film also features reporters for many major American newspapers, including The Washington Post’s Dana Priest and Dana Milbank and The Los Angeles Times’ Ken Silverstein, Deborah Nelson and Chuck Neubauer, who reveal the difficulties they face as they try to get behind the money-drenched spin cycle to report on our own government. 

In an age when news has become a more and more of a product, packaged for mass consumption, DEMOCRACY ON DEADLINE is a timely reminder of the importance of true journalism and the responsibility every citizen has to be informed, not just appeased. 

The DEMOCRACY ON DEADLINE interactive companion website ( features detailed information on the film, including an interview with the filmmaker and links and resources pertaining to the film’s subject matter. The site also features a Talkback section for viewers to share their ideas and opinions, preview clips of the film and more. 

Calvin Skaggs (Executive Producer and Director) Mr. Skaggs has produced and directed more than two dozen films for telecast or theatrical release, including the award-winning dramas Go Tell it on the Mountain, The Wash and Fly by Night, as well as acclaimed programs for such PBS series as American Playhouse, American Masters, and WonderWorks. In the last decade Lumiere Productions, the company Skaggs heads, has produced the 6-hour landmark PBS series With God on our Side: The Rise of the Religious Right in America and the 5-hour PBS series Local News, as well as numerous documentaries about politics, media, history, and the arts for HBO, Discovery, MTV, Court TV, PBS, Channel 4 UK, and Arté. 

Mary Lugo, 770/623-8190,
Cara White, 843/881-1480,

Posted on September 21, 2006