The Advocates is back, in WGBH’s Open Vault

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WGBH is offering a digitized collection of 50 episodes of the early pubTV debate program The Advocates, which initially ran on PBS from 1969 for six seasons. The programs are available on the station’s Open Vault archives site.

The Advocates staged debates about important public issues of the day and invited the public to mail in their votes to determine the winner — an early pre-cursor to voting/elimination-style reality television,” WGBH noted in the announcement.

National figures appearing include Joseph Biden, Michael Dukakis, Barney Frank, Jesse Owens, Adlai Stevenson and Hubert Humphrey. Topics cover an array of issues such as gay marriage, financing of Social Security, limiting campaign contributions, tax credits for school tuition and government-funded healthcare for all Americans.

The project is funded by a grant to WGBH’s Media Library and Archives from the Open Society Foundations, as part of its Youth Initiative’s Global Debates program, which encourages students to engage in critical, reasoned discussions.

Roger Fisher, who created The Advocates, died last month at the age of 90.

2 thoughts on “The Advocates is back, in WGBH’s Open Vault

  1. I have found these programs and this is a great resource. Even as a Canadian citizen, this is useful for understanding the issues that were important in the United States and in other nations. It is quite interesting when looking at the topics like gay marriage and marijuana legislation how far Canada and the United States have progressed since they were debated on the Advocates. I hope that another program can be brought back to PBS at some point.

  2. I concur! The Advocates trading Fact and Wit under ‘true rules of Debate’ was invigorating for me as a, then, still young Man learning my way through life. My own, many years before, Speech and Debate High School Teacher D.C. Reuter, was so ‘direct and concise’ not only in his Classroom
    but also in personal life.. ‘Doc’ shared his straight forward conversational ‘style’ with my Dad. The Advocates ‘sealed’ my own appreciation of Honest Conversation and Truth. I’ll watch, and listen, again should The Advocates return to PBS.

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