GBH Cuts Staff and Programming

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From GBH:

GBH announced layoffs of 31 staff members on Wednesday, representing 4% of its overall workforce. In late March GBH management warned staff about potential job cuts to address a large budget deficit.

“We made these hard choices only after implementing a range of other cost-saving measures and operating efficiencies,” wrote Susan Goldberg, GBH chief executive in an email to staff Wednesday. “The basic reason for these reductions is simple: revenues are flat and the cost of doing business has gone up. A lot.”

GBH — one of the nation’s largest producers of public media content — has a $7 million budget gap. Roughly 10% of the GBH News staff were among those laid off.

The most dramatic cuts are to programming within the news division, the organization’s largest department with approximately 100 employees. Goldberg announced that local television programs Greater Boston, Talking Politics and Basic Black will cease production immediately.

“We will re-invent them as digital-first programming,” wrote Goldberg. “But for now we are stopping production because, as audience behaviors have changed, these shows no longer draw enough viewers to justify the cost of making them for television.”

According to Goldberg’s email, 13 departments across GBH were impacted overall. GBH has a total of 850 employees.

GBH would not say if further cost cutting is ahead.

On Wednesday, newsroom union steward Zoe Mathews, said she and others in the newsroom felt “blindsided” and that the layoffs had been done without discussion with the union.

“Over the course of the past few months, when we have had all-staff meetings with organization leadership, we in the newsroom were not unaware of the financial situation at GBH, but I’m shocked that management has decided to make cuts from the newsroom and not explore other options,” said Mathews.

The GBH layoffs come one month after Boston’s other NPR station WBUR announced cuts of up to 14% of its staff, which it said were necessary after a deep drop in on-air sponsorships.

Goldberg’s announcement made no mention of changes at any of the organization’s flagship programming including FRONTLINE, NOVA, Antiques Roadshow or Masterpiece. GBH is also the largest producer of children’s programs for public broadcasting.

The cuts came on the heels of the announced resignation of the General Manager of GBH News Pam Johnston stepping down at the end of the month.

 

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