Betsy West

Fred W. Friendly Professor of Professional Practice in Media and Society


Betsy West is a documentary and online filmmaker. She most recently served as executive producer of “The 4% Project” (Epix, 2016) and “MAKERS: Women Who Make America” (PBS and AOL, 2012), a series of video stories and a 3-hour documentary about the women’s movement.

Her first job was as a local street reporter for a radio station in Syracuse, New York. After a few years, she was traveling the world as a producer for the ABC News program “Nightline.” Based in London from 1984-1988, she covered uprisings in South Africa, the first intifada in the West Bank, the peaceful overthrow of a dictator in the Philippines and political upheaval that led to the breakup of the Soviet Union.

In the 1990’s, she was co-creator and executive producer of the documentary program “Turning Point.” She received 21 Emmy Awards and two duPont-Columbia Awards for her work at ABC. As senior vice president at CBS News from 1998-2005, she oversaw “60 Minutes” and “48 Hours,” and was executive in charge of the CBS documentary 9/11, winner of the Primetime Emmy Award in 2002.

In 2005, she joined Oscar-nominated filmmaker Oren Jacoby (full disclosure: her husband!) in his production company Storyville Films, where she co-produced his theatrical documentary “Constantine’s Sword.” She is currently executive producer of director Josh Howard’s upcoming documentary, “The Lavender Scare,” about the U.S. government witch-hunt of LGBT individuals that sparked the gay rights movement.

She joined the Journalism School community nearly a decade ago and has taught reporting, documentary and video storytelling. If you’re on campus, you may see her doing one of her favorite things: conducting interviews with directors of acclaimed theatrical and television documentaries at the School’s regular FilmFridays screening series.

She is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Brown University, with a B.A. in English and Film, and has a Master’s in Communications from Syracuse University.