By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

Best wishes to Emily Rooney as ‘Beat the Press’ comes to an end after 22 years

Our 20th anniversary show, Dec. 7, 2018

Major local media news today as GBH News has announced that it’s canceling “Beat the Press” after a 22-year run. I am proud to have been part of the show since its first year, 1998, and to have been a regular for many of those years. And I’m grateful to Emily Rooney, the host and creator of the show. We’ve been on hiatus since June 11; as it turns out, that was our finale.

I’ll continue writing my weekly column on media and politics for GBH News.

It’s hard to put into words what I’m feeling right now. For so many years, heading over to GBH to record “Beat the Press” was simply what I did on Friday afternoons. I hugely enjoyed getting to know Emily, Callie Crossley and everyone else. (I’ll stop at Emily and Callie because if I start naming names, I’ll leave too many out.)

Emily began hosting “Greater Boston” in the mid-’90s. From the beginning it was a Monday-through-Thursday show, with the Friday slot originally taken up by something called “The Long and the Short of It,” with Robert Reich and Alan Simpson. After that show had run its course, Emily pitched “Beat the Press” to WGBH executives (yes, the station still had a “W” back then), and we were off and running.

I haven’t had a chance to talk with Emily yet, but I wish her all the best. She is a legendary figure in Boston media, as news director of WCVB-TV (Channel 5), at the national level and, for the past quarter century, at GBH News. It will be interesting to see what she does next.

Finally, best wishes to Kara Miller, whose program on WGBH Radio (89.7 FM), “Innovation Hub,” will be coming to an end later this year as well.

What follows is the press release from GBH News:

GBH continues to build a multiplatform news organization that provides our community with the most distinctive, relevant and interesting stories of the day. GBH News is deepening its focus on audience-centered local stories, and concentrating its editorial efforts on the critical issues of education, social justice, Covid/public health and politics. As a result, GBH will discontinue production of two weekly programs, Beat the Press with Emily Rooney, which examines the local and national media, and the national radio series Innovation Hub with Kara Miller.

“This was a difficult decision. 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.”

Innovation Hub has given us a deeper understanding of the inventive spirit of human ideas and technology over the course of a decade. We thank Kara Miller and the Innovation Hub production team for their exceptional work, creativity and contributions to public media.”

– Pam Johnston, General Manager GBH News

Beat the Press is currently on summer hiatus and will not return in September; Innovation Hub will continue to air through mid-November in national distribution with PRX.

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  1. Deborah Nam-Krane

    Sorry to hear that! Back when I watched television, I really enjoyed the show (even if I didn’t always agree with everything everyone said). Hope to see you back on the airwaves in some form, and glad you’re still continuing your GBH column.

  2. Stan Franzeen

    So disappointing – Beat the Press was a welcome highlight to cap off the week with informed perspective.

    • Martin Callaghan

      Loved that show. Particularly the way the panel could disagree and have a civilized debate.

  3. Suzette Ciancio

    Oh my! Beat the Press is (was?) one of my absolute favourite half hours on television! This is devastating news. I learned so much and enjoyed every minute. Dissecting the news , calling out mistakes, praising good pieces is important. I think discontinuing Beat the Press is a mistake.
    I will also miss Innovation Hub.

  4. David Aronstein

    I am very sad that they have cancelled Beat the Press. It seemed like Emily Rooney was going to stop soon and we were speculating about who would replace her (Adam Reilly was our favorite). This commentary on the media was important and despite management’s statement, it seems to be very relevant now, given how the media is being used for misinformation that fans the flames of extremism.

  5. Cari

    I will miss you, Callie Crossley and Adam Reilly for your smart insights on everything. I am sorry that WGBH did not go with a new host.
    IMO Emily Rooney was a portrait of unaware privilege. If the station is interested in a younger more diverse audience she is not the way to go.

  6. Donna Halper

    This is so wrong on so many levels. I know a multitude of students of media who loved that show and it always provided excellent opportunities for discussion. Why can’t someone else take over the show and be the host? In times like these, we need MORE, not less, media criticism. Would it help for those of us who are GBH donors to write to anyone & express our disappointment?

    • Nancy Pierce

      I too want to write to the execs but can’t find snail mail addresses. (I have never received a reply to any email.)

  7. John Nucci

    Dan, I will miss you, Emily, Callie, Adam, and the show greatly. It literally was must-see viewing for me each week.
    Sad to see it go. We need more programming like this, not less.
    Good luck to you all.

  8. Beat the Press was running out of steam but nevertheless stood alone as an anchored media watchdog on Boston airwaves (and cableways and webways). It has been the public vehicle that held media to account. As much as Emily, BtP will be sorely missed.

    • Dan Kennedy

      I thought having to move to Zoom drained some of the energy, but it couldn’t be helped.

  9. My wife and I, lifelong news junkies and professionals, have watched “Beat the Press” every Friday for years. We will miss it and hope that somewhere in Boston, a program of local media praise and blame will find a voice.

  10. Direct from the Department of fuzzy thinking: “GBH News is deepening its focus on audience-centered local stories…” What the hell does that mean?

  11. Oh, man!
    Before streaming, this was appointment television. I’m really going to miss it!
    Thanks, Emily!

  12. Lee Ann Majercik

    Damn! I hoped Beat the Press was just on a summer hiatus. So sad to see it has been cancelled permanently. The reason stated in the GBH blurb is hardly illuminating.
    Also, not pleased that Innovation Hub will end, as well.
    Thanks to Emily Rooney and all the panelists for their contributions to Beat the Press. Thanks also to Kara Miller and all responsible for Innovation Hub.

  13. Holly W.

    This is sad news. I loved Beat the Press.

  14. Michael McDonough

    This is a bad decision IMO. The press release is not particularly informative but how can a news organization choose a list of subjects to cover and ignore everything else.
    If the ratings are low, move it to 44.

  15. One of the few shows I watched religiously for the past number of years. Unpretentious, unscripted, and incredibly insightful participants on this show. And I’m not a big “media” follower, but the panelists all had virtuous and honest appraisals of the issues, local and beyond. What a loss.

  16. Carleen Robidoux

    So disappointed to hear of Beat The Press being cancelled. I have been an avid watcher since the beginning. Emily Rooney, you rock! I wish you well and miss your show already! I will miss all the regulars on that show as well, especially Callie. She was always the most pragmatic in her views.
    Please don’t cancel Basic Black.

  17. Thus ends my dream of subbing for the vacationing Dan Kennedy on “Beat the Press.”

  18. MagellanNH

    Sad to hear this. Beat the Press was my favorite locally produced show on the air and a highlight of my limited TV watching. I’ll definitely miss this crew and their perspectives.

    For whatever reason, BTP panel discussions often caused me to change my mind on an issue that I thought I was firm on. There are very few shows on the air right now set up to inform and also challenge ideas and perspectives. This show was very good at doing just that.

    IMO, this was a bad call by GBH and media/press sense-making in the region will be less robust as a result.

  19. Barbara Feldzon

    Intelligent, respectful analyses of current events are not valued in this splash and disrespectful culture. Sad about what it means for our future.

  20. Christina Jameson

    Very disappointed to see Beat the Press go. I watched it regularly and appreciated the honest debate and all the regular panelists. I’m also a fan of Innovation Hub.

  21. James Jillettt

    Boston needs more Emily Rooney, not less. She is nothing less than the queen of Boston journalism, and is, quite frankly, the closest thing I have in this world to a hero. Hearing the news of the show’s cancellation was a punch in the gut akin to the Red Sox losing the World Series. I understand that Emily holds the rights to “BTP”, and hope that she and the show can emerge, Phoenix-like, elsewhere.

    • I find what the above writer says very interesting: “I understand that Emily holds the rights to “BTP…” If true, this answers a lot of questions about why the show can’t continue with a new host. I’d like to hear from Emily Rooney about the reason that she doesn’t want the show to continue.

  22. Patrick

    Sheilds(now Capehart) and Brooks and Beat The Press went hand in hand for me. A tradition passed down to me from my late father. The thoughtfulness of all of the hosts and the discussion on all issues local or national was informative, challenging and civil. By presenting multiple viewpoints, the show frequently made me examine my own; something sorely needed in this world. My Fridays won’t be the same.

  23. Michael Wakefield

    Dear Prof. Kennedy (and your esteemed colleagues):

    As a rule, I don’t post publicly anywhere for any reason. But this is too much. BTP has been required viewing in my college Media and Society course for many years. I am speechless that at a time when journalism and the media in general needs more insightful scrutiny than EVER, “GBH” pulls the plug on exactly what is needed most in favor of “focus on audience-centered local stories, and concentrating its editorial efforts on the critical issues of education, social justice, Covid/public health and politic. [sic]”, whatever the heck that vapid statement means.

    I’ll now be forced to use old clips of previous shows in my classes to demonstrate what informed debate and critical analysis used to look like “back in the day” when it mattered.

    More “GBH” in the UK police procedural sense of the term; this time the victims were the truth-tellers. What a shame.

    I would love to see this program rise from the ashcan of GBH and reappear in a more current media form that depends less on the whims of “management”.


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