#Vanguard the best doc series you might never see again

This is a special Tuesday’s with friends. In fact it’s more like a Tuesday’s with former colleagues in honor of the great work done by the Vanguard team at our alma mater Current TV.

Vanguard is an institution of of investigative journalism, and the jewel in the crown at Current TV. Unfortunately, due to shrinking revenues and a change in format, Current is moving away from in-house production of the series. That means layoffs and a questionable future for investigative journalism at the network.

On Saturday we saw a tweet from one of the Vanguard staff saying that the series was not being renewed. That was followed by this article in Sunday’s Media Decoder section of the New York Times, where Brian Stelter wrote that:

In what some called a cost-cutting move, the channel last week dismissed most of the roughly 10 “Vanguard” employees. Some were offered other jobs. The channel will continue to produce “Vanguard” documentaries, but with freelancers.

David Bohrman, the president of Current TV, said in a statement that production was not being canceled. “But given the network’s new focus on political news and analysis, we have chosen to change the present in house production model for ‘Vanguard.’ ”

After that article hit the interwebs several tweets and Facebook posts from our friends and former colleagues still working on the series followed (along with lots of support sent to those folks from all of our peers in the ex-Current TV community).

We understand the economics behind this decision. We also want Current to succeed. However, we still see this as a sad moment for Current TV. Vanguard represented that last ray of idealism that propelled us to working for Current early on, and we aren’t alone in feeling that way. In truth, the scale back of Vanguard is just another example of media landscape abandoning expensive investigative journalism in favor of rambling pundentry. And that’s sad for more than just Current TV.

Our best wishes to all the Vanguard staff entering the “freelance” world. The water’s not bad out here, especially not for talented folks like y’all.

In the meantime, you can still check out episodes of Vanguard on Current (if you have it) and you should.

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