On Thursday, Boston.com reported that WGBH-TV’s local media affairs program, Beat the Press has been canceled from the production of GBH News.
Mis-management told the digital publication that they are changing the “focus on audience-centered local stories, and concentrating its editorial efforts on the critical issues of education, social justice, Covid/public health and politic[s].”
“This was a difficult decision,” Pam Johnston*, general manager of GBH News, said in a statement. “‘Beat the Press’ has been one of GBH’s longest running news shows and has provided viewers with informative and thought-provoking insight, commentary and perspective on the workings of the media. We are grateful to Emily Rooney for her award-winning work, her dedication to her craft, and her many contributions to GBH over 24 years.”
* Your humble publisher never heard of this manager before.
The site did cite the “hiatus” of which your’s truly had posted almost immediately seeing a yellow flag.
Earlier this year Beat The Press had a very apparent misunderstood but tense discussion on Ken Burns and PBS’ alleged favoritism on white men vs. younger people of color trying to get documentaries on the PBS content pipeline. After an apparent misunderstanding of Rooney’s defense of PBS, apparently the phone system at WGBH broke, within a week later, Emily Rooney had to issue an apology, but it was published on YouTube early that Friday morning to then be included as an intro for that week’s BTP.
I will not enable the Speculation Monster 5000 in this post.
With the end of BTP, this leaves no station in the country on a local level discussing the public affairs in the media industry. A lot of things have been going wrong since the infamous ‘GBH rebrand of last September. Joe Mattheau left his morning drive show on the FM station to Bloomberg’s DC bureau; other WGBH programming has been canned, like Arthur, and Kara Miller a former panelist on BTP in the late 00s, has lost her job doing a public radio program called Innovation Hub. She hasn’t been seen on TV since 2010.
The program would’ve been celebrating it’s 23rd anniversary on the air as the show replaced a Friday night edition of Greater Boston in 1998. During the initial COVID pandemic, they temporary halted BTP because of a lighter load on media affairs issues.
Because my life is really tied up for a living, I want to issue a special post directed to Emily Rooney specifically. That post should be published no later than August 17th.
It’s a sad day in local media in New England; and hoping this isn’t a repeat of history of what occurred to the same branded station 25 years ago.