The words “diversity, equity, and inclusion”—DEI for short—seem to be everywhere these days: from Fortune 500 companies to government agencies and…public media. Episode 3 reveals what happened to a PBS Diversity Report filed 14 years ago, and explores the limits of a system whose leaders repeatedly promise to ‘do better’ over the years without building in true accountability and specific goals. This episode also breaks down CPB (the Corporation for Public Broadcasting), the complex system that makes public television’s structure so confusing to grasp, and examines who’s holding it accountable to meeting its mission. And after facing rejections from several PBS gatekeepers, Grace and Tunde are surprised when one major station leader responds right away to join them for a conversation.
Correction as of November 4, 2021: Following Episode 3’s initial release, GBH contacted Viewers Like Us with two factual inaccuracies that we have since corrected in an updated cut of the episode.
- The original version of Episode 3 misstated that CPB funds account for 1% of GBH funding based on total net assets. In fact, the funding GBH receives from CPB, known as their Community Service Grant, is considered part of the station’s operating revenue, and the percent should be calculated in that context, not as part of total net assets. For FY20, GBH confirmed that their operating revenue was $241.6M, and the CPB grant was $10.4M, or 4% of their revenue.
- The original version of Episode 3 also cited the total number of employees at GBH as 1800; the actual number is about 800 employees.
Additionally, GBH asked that we include the following context regarding the chronology of GBH’s actions related to Beat the Press host Emily Rooney. In the episode, we note that it was not until local filmmakers called on GBH to demand her apology that Emily publicly apologized. GBH notes, “In fact internal actions, including the apology, were in the works before we received the local filmmakers’ letter.”
Letter to Paula Kerger and Haydee M. Rodriguez signed by the Diversity Committee of NALIP, The National Association of Latino Independent Producer, March 4, 2009
Excerpt from the Congress’s Title 47—TELECOMMUNICATIONS, Congressional declaration of policy for Corporation for Public Broadcasting:
“The Congress hereby finds and declares that—
it is in the public interest to encourage the growth and development of public radio and television broadcasting, including the use of such media for instructional, educational, and cultural purposes;
it is in the public interest to encourage the growth and development of nonbroadcast telecommunications technologies for the delivery of public telecommunications services;
- expansion and development of public telecommunications and of diversity of its programming depend on freedom, imagination, and initiative on both local and national levels;
- the encouragement and support of public telecommunications, while matters of importance for private and local development, are also of appropriate and important concern to the Federal Government;
- it furthers the general welfare to encourage public telecommunications services which will be responsive to the interests of people both in particular localities and throughout the United States, which will constitute an expression of diversity and excellence, and which will constitute a source of alternative telecommunications services for all the citizens of the Nation;
- it is in the public interest to encourage the development of programming that involves creative risks and that addresses the needs of unserved and underserved audiences, particularly children and minorities.”
“PBS Reliance On Ken Burns Called A Diversity Problem,” via GBH’s Beat the Press on April 2, 2021 featuring Emily Rooney, joined by The Boston Globe’s Lylah Alphonse, Callie Crossley of GBH News, Media Strategist Susie Banikarim, and Dan Kennedy of Northeastern University
Filmmakers in Solidarity
A group of documentary filmmakers in the northeast demanded action from WGBH leadership following Emily Rooney’s comments on Beat the Press.
Apr 16, 2021 via GBH’s Beat the Press
Diversity Data at GBH
GBH’s publicly accessible data on race and gender for their staff and boards as of December 31, 2019 and December 31, 2020.
“There’s Work To Do’: Diversity Data Shows GBH Has An 80% White Workforce,” August 3, 2021 by Arun Rath, Matt Baskin, and Hannah Reale, plus Jon Abbott on NPR’s All Things Considered