Breaking the News – Co-directors Heather Courtney, Princess A. Hairston and Chelsea Hernandez

BREAKING THE NEWS follows the launch of The 19th*, a news startup that seeks to change the white, male-dominated news industry, asking who’s been omitted from mainstream coverage and how to include them. As Donald Trump was getting sworn in as President and the Women’s March set an angry, outspoken tone for the country’s discourse, journalist Emily Ramshaw  decided to meet the moment by launching The 19th. Named after the Nineteenth  Amendment, The 19th became the first nonprofit, nonpartisan news agency in the United States. Its mission is to focus on the impact of national politics and policy on women. However, by the time Emily and co-founder Amanda Zamora had secured funding and officially launched The 19th’s news site, the pandemic hit — and the very fabric of society went into a tailspin. BREAKING THE NEWS immerses its audience in the lives and   steadfast pursuits of the members of The 19th — women and LGBTQ+ journalists — as they struggle to launch the agency and work to gain traction for their newsroom amidst shuttered news outlets and an upended America. With spirited storytelling, the directorial trio of Heather Courtney,  Princess A. Hairston, and Chelsea Hernandez provide an inquisitive and dynamic view into the inner workings of this news agency as its journalists disrupt entrenched biases, push for accountability and in the process captured the honest discussions at The 19th* around race and gender equity, revealing that change doesn’t come easy, and showcases how they confront these challenges both as a workplace and in their journalism.


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“Breaking the News” will premiere on INDEPENDENT LENS on Presidents Day, February 19, at 10 p.m. ET (check local listings). The film will be available to stream on the PBS App and will also be accessible via PBS’s flagship YouTube channel.

About the filmmaker – Heather Courtney is an Emmy Award-winning filmmaker, and a Guggenheim, Sundance, and Fulbright fellow. Her film Where Soldiers Come From (POV) was funded by ITVS, and won an Emmy and an Independent Spirit Award. Other films include The Unafraid (America ReFramed), and the IDA and SXSW Award-winning Los Trabajadores (Indie Lens).

About the filmmaker – Princess A. Hairston is a director and Emmy Award-nominated editor in New York City. She has produced and directed films, and has edited several documentaries like LulaRich, Pier Kids, Fresh Dressed, Masterpiece of Love, and Capture with Mark Seliger. Her work has been recognized with nominations and awards from the Emmys and The Webbys.

About the filmmaker – Chelsea Hernandez is an Emmy Award-nominated Mexican-American filmmaker based in Texas. Named to the DOC NYC’s 40 Under 40 Class of 2021, Chelsea won a Silver Telly Award for Social Impact for her first feature, Building the American Dream. She is a fellow of Tribeca All Access, BAVC National Mediamakers, and Firelight Media Doc Lab.



89% on RottenTomatoes

“Breaking the News is a smart and incisive look at the origins and growing pains of The 19th* as a groundbreaking female-centric news media outlet. This documentary is honest about showing that some women have more privilege than others in battling sexism.” – Carla Hay, Culture Mix

“Good journalism just might save the world.” – Christopher Llewellyn Reed, Hammer to Nail

“Breaking the News is an immersive, crowd-pleasing, candid portrait of a start-up experiencing growing pains, roadblocks, and ultimately success in changing the paradigm and business model for news.” – John Fink, The Film Stage

“Like any article the 19th* itself would publish, the documentary comes at a chronicle of their first two years in operation from an angle you might not expect and with considerable rigor.” – Stephen Saito, Moveable Fest

“…a fascinating watch. … an absorbing look at walking the talk.” – Valerie Kalfrin,