‘PBS NewsHour’ will lay off staff, use more freelance video journalists

TVNewser | The New York Times

“PBS NewsHour” is closing two offices and “eliminating several non-critical jobs in Washington, D.C.,” a spokesman for the news operation tells Poynter in an email.

Alex Weprin first reported the cuts, which include the shuttering of “NewsHour”‘s San Francisco and Denver offices. Weprin also reported that the program’s San Francisco correspondent Spencer Michels is leaving.

“These steps come after more than a year reviewing how the NewsHour functions and how to take advantage of opportunities presented by new technologies,” NewsHour Public Relations Manager Anne Bell writes in an email to Poynter. “We believe the staff restructuring and production changes, along with continuing web investment, will make us stronger and enable us to be more effective and nimble. Along with sending our own teams into the field, we will build new relationships with journalists around the country. Managing producer Patti Parson will remain.”

Those new relationships would appear to include more freelance contributions. Weprin quotes a note from Executive Producer Linda Winslow:

“Along with sending our own teams in the field, we anticipate building new relationships with a variety of locally-based freelance video journalists around the country,” Winslow wrote to staff. “Under no circumstances do we intend to abandon the mini-documentary reports that have become so critical to our broadcast. The NewsHour remains committed to delivering the same kind of in-depth reporting our viewers and supporters expect from us.”

Brian Stelter writes in The New York Times that “employees who were not authorized to speak publicly said earlier this year that the production company was facing a shortfall of up to $7 million, a quarter of its $28 million overall budget.”

“It is hard to be losing some colleagues who have been valued for a long time,” Bell wrote in her email. “However, we believe the changes will strengthen our ability to adapt and grow as a journalistic institution. The NewsHour remains committed to delivering the same kind of in-depth reporting our viewers and supporters expect from us.”

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