Why documentarian Ken Burns hasn’t watched ESPN’s Michael Jordan documentary

"That's not the way you do good journalism."

Director Ken Burns.
Director Ken Burns. 20crit –Boston Globe

“The Last Dance,” ESPN’s documentary chronicling Michael Jordan and the 1997-98 Chicago Bulls, is the most-viewed of the network’s original content broadcasts since 2004, and the most-watched documentary in ESPN history.

But there’s at least one person who hasn’t spent his Sunday nights tuning into the 10-part series – famed documentarian Ken Burns.

Burns, whose documentary series “Baseball” debuted on PBS in 1994, criticized ESPN’s project for including Jordan’s production company as a partner.

“I find it the opposite direction of where we need to be going,” Burns told the Wall Street Journal. “If you are there influencing the very fact of it getting made, it means that certain aspects that you don’t necessarily want in aren’t going to be in, period.


“And that’s not the way you do good journalism…and it’s certainly not the way you do good history, my business.”

The next two episodes of “The Last Dance” air on ESPN on May 3 at 9 p.m. Ken Burns’s “Baseball” is free to stream on PBS.org and the PBS Video app.

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