KTTV Los Angeles is airing Rising Up, a five-part docuseries, all this week in place of its normal 6 p.m. newscast. The series weaves together more than 25 interviews with activists, thought-leaders, law enforcement, politicians, journalists and protesters to tell the stories of the social justice movement in Los Angeles.
KTTV, the Fox O&O in Los Angeles, is airing a five-part docuseries, Rising Up, all this week at 6 p.m. in place of its normal newscast.
There will also be a live digital post-show after each episode during which KTTV’s news anchors will be discussing the contents of that night’s episode.
Rising Up weaves together more than 25 interviews with activists, thought-leaders, law enforcement, politicians, journalists and protesters to tell the stories of the social justice movement in Los Angeles.
There’s no anchor track, no voice-overs, no host or narrator.
“It is the people’s voices here in Los Angeles weaving their own story,” says Peter Wilgoren, KTTV’s assistant news director, who is the executive producer of Rising Up.
Producing an almost two-hour documentary with no narration to bridge the sound bites is not easy, Wilgoren says. “This is the first time I have ever tried it. This is people in their own voices unadulterated.”
Rising Up examines the issues of “peaceful protests versus violent looting and policing versus defunding the police,” Wilgoren says, and covers events from the George Floyd protest in 2020 in Los Angeles, to the Rodney King incident 30 years ago. May 25 marks the first anniversary of Floyd’s killing.
Wilgoren says the Rising Up series features interviews with police chiefs, members of Congress and leaders of Black Lives Matter.
But in addition, there are interviews with eyewitnesses, people who tell their story for the first time.
One of them is the peaceful protestor who stood up to the looters because “in that moment he had decided enough is enough,” Wilgoren says, or the national guardsman who supports the protests, but doesn’t support the looting.
“Hearing his story was really fascinating to me,” Wilgoren says.
Marketing for Rising Up began in April with the release of a trailer typical of that of a movie preview’s length.
“The idea being that this may be produced by local news,” Wilgoren says, “but we want it to feel big.”
The Rising Up trailer posted to YouTube contains a warning that the content maybe offensive to some audiences.
Wilgoren says the station has been airing preview clips within its newscasts to promote the series.
“The vignettes are really interesting because they are not people that you would know by name, but they are people that have really incredible stories,” he says.
KTTV has been promoting Rising Up on its own air and social media platforms, and the station also bought time on local radio.
But in addition to those outlets, Wilgoren says the series is benefiting from organic sources, local radio hosts who are interviewed in the documentary for example, who are spreading the word on their own platforms.
Wilgoren says the station is also hosting guests during its newscasts who were not part of the documentary, “but guests who can talk about the same issues that are raised in the documentary as a way to promote it.”
Preempting a station’s normal 6 p.m. newscast to air a documentary is unusual, Wilgoren says, but the station chose “to give it a very prominent place. I hope we will find people who would normally be watching our news and people just discovering us or hearing about this, are intrigued by it. I think it is an important conversation.”
In terms of scope, Rising Up is one of the most challenging projects the news team has rolled out, Wilgoren says.
“I think the headlines of the day are the cost of admission for news stations,” Wilgoren says. “We are all expected to have those, and we will have those, but I think where we really earn our keep is on these bigger projects and initiatives. Hopefully for us, it is a model of things we can do in the future.”