Betsy West & Julie Cohen
Betsy West is a video journalist and filmmaker with three decades experience in news and documentaries. Most recently, she directed RBG (CNNFilms, Magnolia, Participant) along with CJS alum Julie Cohen ‘89. RBG, a theatrical documentary about Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2018 and will be released nationwide this May. West was executive producer of the MAKERS documentary and digital project (AOL & PBS, 2012); the feature documentary The Lavender Scare (2017), and the short doc 4%: Film’s Gender Problem (Epix 2016.) Along with her husband, filmmaker Oren Jacoby, she is a principal at Storyville Films where she co-produced Constantine’s Sword (First Run Features, 2007.) West joined the Columbia faculty in 2009 after working three decades in network news. As a producer and executive at ABC News, she received 21 Emmy Awards and two duPont-Columbia Awards for her work on “Nightline” and “PrimeTimeLive” and the documentary program ”Turning Point,” where she served as executive producer from 1994-1998. 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.
Julie is a documentary filmmaker and the founder of BetterThanFiction Productions, Inc. She has directed, produced, and written ten documentaries for WNET, NY and other PBS stations around the country; more than 20 hour-long and two-hour programs for Dateline NBC; and web content for a wide variety of corporate and non-profit clients. Her films have screened at more than 80 festivals including the Berlin International Film Festival. Julie has won three New York Emmy Awards since 2012 and the Individual Achievement Award for Best News Producer from American Women in Radio and Television. A former longtime NBC News staff producer, Julie still does consulting projects for NBC. She graduated from Colgate and holds masters degrees from Yale Law School and the Columbia Journalism School, where she is now an adjunct professor.