The 51st State (1972-1976)

The 51st State, a local news show, was created when New York City was in financial crisis. John Lindsay was mayor, crime and heroin were rampant, Serpico was blowing the whistle on police corruption, the Vietnam War was still raging, women and gays were pushing all boundaries and the arts, both uptown and down were flourishing. The show covered the news from the bottom up, reporting stories from all over the city, and provided an unprecedented context, depth, analysis and understanding for issues that most news organizations ignored. Broadcast five nights a week at 10 PM, the 51st State hired young filmmakers and seasoned investigative reporters who broke stories that allowed ordinary citizens to participate and comment on the stories that affected them directly. Nat Hentoff wrote in the Village Voice:

“This provocative, unpredictable nightly news show is beginning to present a formidable challenge to print journalism while leaving the other local television news operations light years behind. The question now is how those of us reporters without a camera are going to keep up with this really new journalism.”

The 51st State was the first and last news show of its kind.

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