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

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Let’s not overlook Will Lewis’ ‘controversial’ decision to pay £110,000 to a source

Washington Post publisher Will Lewis. 2019 public domain photo by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Although it’s been previously reported, it’s been lost amid the outrage over Washington Post publisher Will Lewis’ aggressive attempts to play down his role in the Murdochian phone-hacking scandal: 14 years ago, as editor of Britain’s Telegraph, he was involved in paying a source £110,000 for a database that contained information about dubious expenses incurred by members of Parliament. At the current exchange rate, that would equal about $140,000.

The payoff has been overlooked to some degree because British and U.S. ethical standards are different. NPR media reporter David Folkenflik, who mentioned the payoff last week in a larger story about the phone-hacking turmoil, put it this way: “It was hailed as a huge story, leading to resignations and reforms. But it violated a key component of major U.S. news outlets’ ethics codes against paying sources.”

That may be true, but even in the U.K. it was noteworthy enough to warrant a story in The Guardian, which in 2009 called it a “controversial payment.” Two other British papers, The Times and The Sun, both refused to pay for the information, although The Guardian did not specify whether ethical considerations had anything to do with that.

Not only was Lewis involved in the payment but so, too, was Robert Winnett, a reporter for The Telegraph back then and now its deputy editor. Lewis announced last week that Willett will become executive editor of The Washington Post this fall while interim executive editor Matt Murray will move over to head up a new operation devoted to service journalism and social media.

Correction: Matt Murray is not a Brit. I’ve updated this post and also corrected Winnett’s name.

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Lewis keeps digging and demands a bigger shovel

Photo (cc) 2022 by Dan Kennedy

Embattled Washington Post publisher Will Lewis not only keeps digging but he’s demanding a bigger shovel. CNN media reporter Oliver Darcy, whose coverage of the Post’s meltdown has been exceptional, writes that Lewis’ response to his own paper following Thursday’s bombshell NPR story has only made things worse — much worse. Darcy writes:

At The Post, according to more than half-dozen staffers I spoke with Thursday, morale has fallen off a cliff since Lewis abruptly ousted Executive Editor Sally Buzbee on Sunday. “It’s as bad as I’ve ever seen it, truly,” one staffer confided in me Thursday, noting that The Post has hit “rough patches” before, but that the stormy atmosphere hanging over the Washington outlet is unprecedented.

In an interview with the Post, Darcy notes, Lewis labeled NPR’s respected media reporter, David Folkenflik, as “an activist not a journalist,” which is just astonishing.

Darcy also ties up another loose thread. After Folkenflik reportedly rejected Lewis’ offer last December for an interview in exchange for not writing about Lewis’ role in the Murdochian phone-hacking scandal, that first interview went instead to Dylan Byers of Puck. Darcy writes: “Byers told me Thursday night that no restrictions were placed around the interview and he would ‘have never agreed to anything like that.’”

Are Lewis’ days numbered? I think so. The Post is taking a terrible hit to its reputation, and owner Jeff Bezos has to realize that Lewis is no longer the right person to rebuild the sagging news outlet — if he ever was. Bezos might see this as a public relations problem rather than a genuine ethical quandary. Well, fine. But it’s a PR disaster that’s not going away as long as Lewis is in charge. And if Lewis goes, what happens to his handpicked editors, Matt Murray and Robert Winnett?

What a mess.

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Can Lewis hang on?

The Will Lewis Resignation Watch has officially begun. David Folkenflik of NPR has devastating new details about the Washington Post publisher’s attempts to cover up his role in the Murdoch phone-hacking scandals, including offering an exclusive interview to Folkenflik last December if he’d agree to drop a story he was working on.

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Media notes: Will Lewis’ unethical ask, Biden is still old and Hub Blog is back

Photo (cc) 2016 by Dan Kennedy

Once the mishegas over the shake-up at The Washington Post dies down, we are left with a question: Is publisher Will Lewis the right person to set a new direction for Jeff Bezos’ money-losing, reader-hemorrhaging newspaper? The New York Times has some disturbing news (free link) on that front.

According to Times reporters Benjamin Mullin and Katie Robertson, executive editor Sally Buzbee clashed with Lewis over a story about new developments in the British tabloid phone-hacking scandal. Lewis had some involvement as an executive in Rupert Murdoch’s media empire, and he reportedly told Buzbee that he didn’t want the story to run. Buzbee ran it anyway. The Times reports that the exchange was a factor, though not the decisive one, in Buzbee’s decision to leave the Post rather than accept a reduced role under Lewis’ plan to reorganize the staff into three newsrooms.

And lest we forget, Max Tani of Semafor reported a couple of weeks ago that the Post’s director of newsletter strategy, Elana Zak, sent out a missive instructing staff members “don’t distribute this story” in its newsletters. At the time, Zak’s email was attributed to some sort of internal mix-up, but the Times story casts that in a new light.

Buzbee, at least, stood up to Lewis and his ethically inappropriate demand. The problem is that his handpicked new editors, Matt Murray and Robert Winnett, may prove to be more malleable.

A flawed WSJ story

The Wall Street Journal has published a lengthy inquiry (free link) into President Biden’s mental acuity that has inflamed liberal critics. I read it with an open mind, but the story, by Annie Linskey and Siobhan Hughes, is based almost entirely on the observations of partisan Republicans like former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, who’s quoted on the record, and current Speaker Mike Johnson, who isn’t.

The article, we’re told, is based on interviews with 45 people — but apparently six of those interviews were devoted to what Johnson had told people about a meeting he had with Biden in February. The story also contradicts earlier reporting about McCarthy, who has privately praised Biden’s mental sharpness even while mocking him in public.

One of the most fair-minded, nonpartisan media observers out there is Tom Jones of Poynter Online, so I was curious as to what he would have to say about it. Here’s his take:

Is it a fairly reported story on a pertinent topic? Or is it a pointed piece based pretty much on quotes and opinions from those who don’t want to see Biden elected to a second term?

I’d go with the latter — considering the money quote is from McCarthy, another key anecdote was reported by current Republican House Speaker Mike Johnson, and other tales suggesting Biden’s decline are flimsy, at best. (For example, he sometimes talks quietly, he uses notes, and he relies on aides.)

That “money quote” from McCarthy, by the way, is this: “I used to meet with him [Biden] when he was vice president. I’d go to his house. He’s not the same person.”

Despite Murdoch’s ownership, the Journal’s news coverage is generally superb. It was the Journal’s reporting, after all, that led to Donald Trump’s 34 felony convictions last week. You have to wonder how a slanted piece like this passed muster.

Fairly or not, the Journal has raised the stakes for Biden’s June 27 debate with Trump, who, it should be said much more often than it is, is nearly as old as Biden and whose own problems with age-related mental slips tend to play out in public rather than (allegedly) behind closed doors.

Jay Fitzgerald returns

Veteran journalist Jay Fitzgerald, one of the original Boston bloggers, has revived Hub Blog (via Contrarian Boston). It looks like Jay is mainly writing an old-fashioned link blog with a few longer posts on the turmoil at The Washington Post.

I started writing an early version of this blog in 2002, shortly after Hub Blog launched. I was actually doing it by hand — I had no idea there was this thing called blogging software that automated the process of date-stamping, archiving older posts, adding permalinks and the like until Jay asked me, “What are you using.” He led me to Blogspot, though I’ve been using WordPress since 2005.

Anyway, it’s good to have Jay back in harness.

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Post media critic weighs in on that other in-house mess

An update on that other big story about The Washington Post: the paper’s media critic, Erik Wemple, has weighed in with a tough piece about the Post’s decision in January 2021 not to report that an upside-down American flag — a symbol of the pro-Trump insurrection — was flying outside Supreme Court Justice Sam Alito’s home. That story was finally broken in The New York Times last month, and it led to other scoops as well, including the revelation that another insurrectionist flag was flying outside a second Alito home. Wemple’s lead:

It’s one thing to get scooped when your competitors bust their humps. Or when they catch a lucky break one way or another. It’s quite another thing to get scooped when the story has sat in your notebook for 3½ years.

Earlier:

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Trump, crypto and a controversial religion: The Epoch Times’ $67m problem

Photo (cc) 2009 by longtrekhome

To the extent that I had ever given any thought to The Epoch Times, I considered it a mouthpiece for Falun Gong, a controversial spiritual movement that has been persecuted by the Chinese government. I also knew that it had adopted an extreme pro-Trump orientation in recent years.

Now it turns out that federal prosecutors say it’s a massive grift as well. In what CNN media reporter Oliver Darcy calls an “astonishing indictment,” the Justice Department claims that the nonprofit newspaper raked in $67 million from a money-laundering operation organized by Weidong Guan, its chief financial officer. Guan used cryptocurrency to purchase crime proceeds, according to the indictment, which led to an enormous influx of revenue.

As NBC News reporter reported in 2023, before any of the current criminal allegations were known:

Funded through aggressive online and real-world marketing campaigns and big-money conservative donors, The Epoch Times now boasts to be the country’s fourth-largest newspaper by subscriber count. (Unlike most major newspapers, The Epoch Times isn’t audited by the two major independent collectors of circulation data.) The nonprofit has amassed a fortune, growing its revenue by a staggering 685% in two years, to $122 million in 2021, according to the group’s most recent tax records.

Its editorial vision — fueled by a right-wing slant and conspiracy theories —  is on display in recent reports on how “Jan. 6 Capitol Hill Security Footage Challenges Key Narratives” and “Meteorologists, Scientists Explain Why There Is ‘No Climate Emergency.’” Its video series include a documentary-style film alleging widespread vaccine injury and death and an exposé of an alleged world government agenda to harm farmers, cull the population and force survivors to eat bugs.

Tastes like chicken!

The Epoch Times obviously isn’t as influential as Fox News, which fuels Donald Trump’s lie-filled comeback bid on an hourly basis. But it’s certainly more influential than local pink-slime outlets like the North Boston News or the Boston Times, nearly invisible right-wing outlets that at this stage of their development appear to be more inept than they are dangerous.

For instance, according to SimilarWeb, The Epoch Times’ English-language website was visited 89 million times between February and April, more than right-wing sites such as NewsMax, TownHall and the Gateway Pundit, and nearly as many as Breitbart.

Now the future of The Epoch Times is very much in doubt.

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Post notes: Buzbee’s departure, diversity concerns and a squishy-soft profile

Sally Buzbee. Photo (cc) 2018 by Collision Conf.

I’m reading everything I can find about the still-unfolding story of what’s next at The Washington Post, and I think it makes sense to hold back until the picture comes more clearly into focus. Here, though, are a few bullet points of note:

• It sounds like Sally Buzbee could have stayed as executive editor, at least for a few months, if she’d been willing to accept the reduced role that publisher Will Lewis envisions under his three-newsrooms idea. New York Times reporters Benjamin Mullin and Katie Robertson report that Buzbee told senior editors in advance of her departure, “I would have preferred to stay to help us get through this period, but it just got to the point where it wasn’t possible.”

• Lewis presided over a staff meeting Monday that devolved into a “shit show,” according to Matt Fuller and Tara Golshan of NOTUS. Particularly outspoken was political reporter Ashley Parker, who pointed out, “Now we have four white men running the newsroom.” Lewis responded, “I’ve got to do better.” Well, this was his chance, and now all the top jobs have been filled. NOTUS, by the way,  is part of the Allbritton Journalism Institute, begun recently by Robert Allbritton, the former publisher of Politico, part of a family whose members are ancient rivals of the Post going back to the long-gone Washington Star.

• Check out this squishy-soft Post feature on the new top editors, Matt Murray and Robert Winnett. I don’t want to judge the Post on one article, and in fact this story on Buzbee’s departure is straightforward and reasonably tough. But I’m reminded of some of the brutally candid stories the Post produced after Jeff Bezos announced in August 2013 that he was buying the paper. As I wrote in my 2018 book “The Return of the Moguls”:

Indeed, within days of the announcement that he would buy the paper, the Post published an in-depth examination of Bezos and Amazon that could fairly be described as warts and all — he was described as “ruthless” and a “bully” in his dealings with competitors and a boss who was known for launching “tirades” that “humiliated colleagues.” An infamous story was repeated about Amazon stationing an ambulance outside one of its Pennsylvania warehouses during a heat wave rather than installing air conditioning…. Shel Kaphlan, Bezos’s first employee, who left Amazon after his role within the company was marginalized, was quoted as saying, “I saw him just completely destroy people on several occasions.” Kaphlan added that he felt “nauseous” at the prospect of Bezos owning the Post and the possibility that he would convert it “into a corporate libertarian mouthpiece.” If there is an example of newspaper reporters’ sucking up to the new boss, well, this was surely its opposite.

As is his custom, Bezos refused to cooperate with the team of reporters who worked on that story. But the national investigative reporter Kimberly Kindy, who was among those journalists, told me there were no repercussions from Bezos after publication. “I don’t think that we have shied away from covering him. And he certainly has invited us to,” she said.

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Journalist’s shield law, passed unanimously in the House, needs a boost in the Senate

U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin. Photo (cc) 2018 by Kurman Communications.

You wouldn’t think the MAGA-controlled U.S. House could do much of anything on a bipartisan basis. Back in January, though, the chamber passed a bill that would enact a shield law protecting journalists from having to identify their confidential sources. Now the bill is in danger of dying in the Senate, and the Freedom of the Press Foundation is calling for action. More on that in a moment. First, though, what would the PRESS Act accomplish?

As described by Gabe Rottman, writing for the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, it would protect journalists from subpoenas, court orders or search warrants unless there is reason to believe that the names of the anonymous sources being sought would help prevent a terrorist attack or identify the perpetrator of such an attack, or prevent “a threat of imminent violence, significant bodily harm, or death, including specified offenses against a minor.”

Second, the shield would protect not just professional journalists working for a recognized news organization but also anyone who “regularly gathers, prepares, collects, photographs, records, writes, edits, reports, investigates, or publishes news or information that concerns local, national, or international events or other matters of public interest for dissemination to the public.” In other words, solo newsletter writers, bloggers and folks who run tiny news sites would be covered.

There is no First Amendment provision for journalists seeking to protect their confidential sources. The Supreme Court saw to that in its 1972 Branzburg v. Hayes decision. But 49 states offer some of protection, sometimes referred to as “the reporter’s privilege,” either through a shield law or a ruling by its highest court (Massachusetts is in the latter category). The sole exceptions: Wyoming and the federal government.

The PRESS Act (“PRESS” stands for Protect Reporters from Exploitative State Spying) was passed unanimously by the House in January. But according to a press release from the Freedom of the Press Foundation, the bill is in danger of falling victim to inaction. The nonprofit organization has called on Sens. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., the chair and ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, to move the bill forward so that it can come to a vote, calling it the “strongest shield bill we’ve ever seen” and “the most important press freedom bill in modern times.”

What follows is the full text of the foundation’s press release.

Sen. Durbin should advance the PRESS Act before time runs out

NEW YORK, May 30, 2024 — Sen. Dick Durbin has a rare chance to strengthen freedom of the press right now by advancing the bipartisan PRESS Act, a bill to protect journalist-source confidentiality at the federal level. Freedom of the Press Foundation (FPF) has called it the “strongest shield bill we’ve ever seen” and “the most important press freedom bill in modern times.”

But Durbin needs to act quickly. Today, a coalition of 123 civil liberties and journalism organizations and individual law professors and media lawyers wrote to Durbin, who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee, and ranking member Sen. Lindsey Graham, urging them to schedule a markup of the PRESS Act right away.

Among the signers is acclaimed First Amendment lawyer Floyd Abrams, who said that “The PRESS Act has long been needed and the time to enact it is now.” 

Another noteworthy endorser is the Marion County Record. Last year, a baseless and retaliatory police raid of the Record’s newsroom and the home of its publisher, Eric Meyer, made national headlines. Meyer was an associate professor of journalism and associate dean of the College of Media at University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign for over 25 years.

Meyer said the Record signed the letter because:

As last summer’s raid on the Marion County Record proved, freedom of expression faces unprecedented challenges from unscrupulous people willing to weaponize the justice system to bully and retaliate against those attempting to report truth. Existing remedies might be fine for huge media organizations, but community journalists and people like the students I used to teach at the University of Illinois shouldn’t have their rights be dependent on whether they can afford to hire massive legal teams. Clear protections like those in the PRESS Act would block future attempts to trample on the First Amendment in ways that once were unfathomable to all who support democracy.

Other organizational signers include the American Civil Liberties Union, FPF, Illinois Press Association, and Chicago Headline Club.

Durbin and Graham are already co-sponsors of the legislation, with Durbin announcing his support for the bill in the Chicago Sun-Times in 2022. But, as the letter explains, if the Senate Judiciary Committee does not review the bill in the next couple of weeks, the clock could run out.

FPF director of advocacy and Illinois resident Seth Stern said:

Illinois news outlets are giving everything they’ve got to make sure that people are informed about what’s happening in their communities.

Yet journalists and whistleblowers in Illinois remain vulnerable to invasive subpoenas demanding that reporters burn their sources. Our federal appellate court is one of the few that doesn’t recognize a journalist-source privilege. That means everyone from prosecutors to private plaintiffs can haul reporters into federal court and demand to know who they’re talking to and what information they have. Whistleblowers don’t talk to journalists when they’re afraid of being outed, and the result is that official misconduct goes unchecked and important stories go untold.

Sen. Durbin can change that. He already supports the PRESS Act and should advance it through the Judiciary Committee so it can become the law of the land.

“The Senate should not squander this rare opportunity to defend the First Amendment and protect press freedom through bipartisan legislation. The PRESS Act is bipartisan, commonsense legislation that would protect journalists, sources, and Americans’ right to know, said FPF Executive Director Trevor Timm, a Springfield, Illinois native. 

Clayton Weimers, executive director of Reporters Without Borders USA and a Chicago native, explained in a letter to the Sun-Times yesterday that Durbin can “help reverse the decline of American press freedom” by advancing the PRESS Act.

Illinoisian actor and activist John Cusack, a founding board member of FPF, has also written op-eds and letters in support of the act.

In addition to protecting journalists from subpoenas, the PRESS Act would shield them from government surveillance through their phone and email providers. It contains commonsense exceptions for emergencies: for example, terrorism and threats of imminent violence.

The bill was the subject of a recent congressional hearing featuring testimony from former CBS News and Fox News journalist Catherine Herridge, who has been held in contempt of court for refusing to reveal sources. “If confidential sources are not protected, I fear investigative journalism is dead,” she said during her testimony.

The PRESS Act passed the House unanimously in January. Durbin and Graham are joined by Sens. Ron Wyden and Mike Lee as Senate sponsors of the PRESS Act. Major media publisherspress freedom and civil liberties organizations and editorial boards around the country have endorsed the PRESS Act, and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has said he supports the bill and hopes to bring it to President Joe Biden’s desk this year.

But he can’t do that unless Durbin, Graham, and the Senate Judiciary Committee advance the bill first. They should do so without delay.

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A tale of Russian propaganda, international intrigue and pink slime — with a Boston angle

Vladimir Putin reads the Boston Times. Why aren’t you? Photo (cc) 2022 by Presidential Executive Office of Russia.

Call it a tale of Russian propaganda, international intrigue and pink slime. The New York Times today has a fascinating story (free link) about John Mark Dougan, a former law-enforcement official in Florida and Maine who has become a significant producer of online disinformation on behalf of Russia. Dougan’s digital network promotes lies about everything from claims that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is a cocaine smuggler to the fanciful notion that the CIA and the Ukrainian government are working together to harm Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.

One of Dougan’s many vehicles, according to the story, is something called the Boston Times. Hmmm. Whenever Ellen Clegg and I talk about our book, “What Works in Community News,” we mention the rise of websites designed to look like legitimate sources of local news — my rough definition of pink slime.

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Our favorite is the North Boston News (North Boston is lovely this time of year), part of the 1,200 or so sites controlled by Metric Media, which in turn goes back to the earliest days of pink slime about a dozen years ago. Those sites are nominally right-wing, though they mainly carry outdated filler like “5.5% of citizens unemployed in Essex County in 2021” and “2022: 14.5% of Essex County students played sports on collegiate teams.” That said, there is a conspiracy-minded story at North Boston News right now falsely claiming that “Jewish left-wing activist” George Soros was behind the recent pro-Palestinian encampment at MIT, which suggests there may be worse to come.

But the Boston Times? That was a new one. I couldn’t get it to pop on Google, yet somehow DuckDuckGo managed to find it. The site seems to be mix of lurid tabloid stories (“Florida Woman’s Public Sex Escape”) and weird pro-Trump content (“Trump Orders Arrest of Journalist for Reporting on Court Filings”). Minor news from New York City is featured, too. Click on the verticals, including “Politics,” “Ukraine War” and “Gaza War,” and the Russian ties become more obvious and disturbing. Here, for instance, is the headline to a false story under “Investigations”: “New Evidence Emerges of Ukraine’s Horrific ‘Forced Fertilization’ Program, Inspired by Nazi Lebensborn.”

The “About” page is a hoot. Here’s how it begins:

Since its inception in 1972, located in the heart of Massachusetts, the Boston Times has been a beacon of journalistic integrity, illuminating the stories that shape our city, our nation, and our world. Founded with a vision to provide a platform for truth, fairness, and accountability, the Boston Times has evolved into a trusted source of news and information for generations of readers.

Of course, there’s no evidence that the Boston Times even existed until recently (I’m not counting a paper by that name that was published between 1887 and 1915), and the bylines, according to The New York Times’ story, may be generated by artificial intelligence. It looks like AI had a hand in designing the logo, too. Among other things, the Boston Times pledges to deliver “Truth and Uboutelicy.” All right, then!

Reach seems to be limited, especially given that I couldn’t find it on Google. I couldn’t find an account for it on Twitter/X, either, although I did find tweets debunking the site as Russian disinformation, such as this one by David Puente. But I also found some of the propaganda on the Boston Times site being promoted by accounts that are probably bots. That sort of automated amplification is the point.

Is the goal of projects such as the Boston Times to persuade? Probably not. Rather, the goal is to “flood the zone with shit,” to quote the political philosopher Steve Bannon. These days truth floats in a sea of falsehood. Its purveyors hope you’ll just throw up your hands at the thought of trying to sort it all out. Don’t fall for it. Get your news from reliable, verified sources.

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Dan Lothian is the steady hand that GBH News needs right now

Dan Lothian

Less than a week after GBH canceled its three local news and public affairs television programs while laying off 31 employees, the public media behemoth is taking a big step in the right direction. Dan Lothian, executive producer of “The World,” has been promoted to the newly created position of editor-in-chief of both “The World,” a radio program that covers international news, and of GBH News, its local operation encompassing radio, digital and, until last week, television.

Dan is a professional friend. We were fellow panelists at GBH-TV’s former media program, “Beat the Press with Emily Rooney,” and we’re colleagues at Northeastern University. A former international and national reporter for CNN, he is, above all, a steady hand and a calming presence, which no doubt is exactly what the rattled newsroom needs right now.

Lothian also brings with him the sort of goodwill needed so that he and other GBH executives will be able to take the time to figure out what’s next. GBH’s chief executive, Susan Goldberg, has said that the three former TV shows, “Greater Boston,” “Basic Black” and “Talking Politics,” will be brought back as digital programs at some point. When? What will that look like? What is the future of GBH Radio’s rivalry with WBUR, the city’s highest-rated news-focused public radio station? No, they’re not going to merge, but are there ways that they might collaborate? What is the future of the general manager’s position at GBH News, vacated last week when Pam Johnston announced she was leaving?

Anyway, I’m thrilled for Dan and for my former GBH News colleagues. What follows is the GBH press release.

Boston public media producer GBH has named Dan Lothian to the newly created role of Editor in Chief, GBH News and “The World.” An award-winning journalist with deep roots in both domestic and international news, Lothian is currently the executive producer of “The World,” public radio’s longest-running daily global news program, produced in Boston by GBH and PRX, a leading public radio and podcast distributor.

“Dan has impeccable credentials and is respected by colleagues throughout GBH and by journalists across the globe,” said Susan Goldberg, president and CEO of GBH. “With his background in both breaking news and long-form features, and with deep experience in radio, television, and across digital platforms, he is ideally suited to lead coverage for today’s audiences.”

As part of today’s announcement, Tinku Ray, currently managing editor for “The World,” will be promoted to Executive Editor of the program. She’ll continue to report to Lothian. Lee Hill, Executive Editor for GBH News, will also report to Lothian.

Lothian joined “The World” as Executive Producer in 2021. Under his leadership, the show expanded its reach, airing on a record 377 public radio stations across the United States and in Canada, reaching about 2 million people weekly. In 2022, “The World” received a $205,000 grant from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) to expand and sustain its coverage of the war in Ukraine. With support from the Lumina Foundation, Lothian and the team at “The World” created The World’s Global Classroom, which focused on amplifying stories from young college students. In addition to his role as executive producer, Lothian hosted “The State of Race,” a multi-platform series on race and racial inequality produced in partnership with GBH WORLD, NAACP Boston, and The Boston Globe.

“We have the opportunity to bring our audience stories by connecting the global to the local, while simultaneously delivering the critical information they need to be informed and engaged citizens,” said Lothian. “In addition, today’s environment requires a focus on innovation. To reach a wider audience, we have to find new ways and platforms to share these stories. I’m looking forward to working with all of my colleagues and partners to support the excellent journalism they produce every day.”

Lothian spent more than a decade as a correspondent for CNN, covering the White House, presidential campaigns, and breaking news. He also spent time working in CNN’s Jerusalem bureau. He began his career in radio at the age of 16 and went on to work at several local TV stations across the country. He then served as a National Correspondent at NBC News for seven years with stories on Nightly News, the Today Show, and MSNBC as well as working in both the Tel Aviv and Cairo bureaus.

Lothian will begin his new role on June 1.

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