News & Public Affairs

In the midst of the life-changing COVID-19 pandemic, The WNET Group’s news and public affairs productions shifted gears. Anchors and reporters transformed their homes into instant studios, complete with Skype and Zoom interviews, remote editing and broadcasting. They never missed a program.

PBS NewsHour Weekend anchor Hari Sreenivasan virtually interviewed Jean Lee, director of the Korea program at the Wilson Center.

The PBS NewsHour Weekend team has been covering the city, nation and world and finding innovative ways to interview guests and edit stories while sheltering in place. Even prior to the pandemic, our viewers had increased by 78% since last year, and weekend page views on the PBS NewsHour website rose 68.5% since last year. Some of the most-watched PBS NewsHour Weekend broadcast pieces tapped into the major political and social current events of the day. Johns Hopklins engineering professor Lauren Gardner shared an interactive map tracking global coronavirus cases in near real time and we interviewed San Francisco Supervisor Shamann Walton on a city resolution to prohibit hiring police officers with a history of serious misconduct. Addressing rumors that North Korea’s leader was gravely ill, “Where is North Korea’s Kim Jong Un? An Expert Weighs In” generated 408K views on YouTube.

“In times like this I am most grateful that I can turn to PBS for thoughtful and objective commentary.” – A. Walsh, Brooklyn, NY on PBS NewsHour

The team at Amanpour and Company found a way to move their editing process into a digital workflow (our CNN colleagues were impressed by the set up). Nationally, broadcast viewership was up 9% since 2019 and coronavirus-related interviews and clips garnered more than 8.9 million views on YouTube. In addition, the nightly news program launched a newsletter to keep viewers better informed and leads regular Twitter chats on topics spanning presidential requirements to higher education’s response to COVID-19 to engage with its audience.

Ongoing series Consuelo Mack WealthTrack entered into its 16th season, while GZERO WORLD with Ian Bremmer and Firing Line with Margaret Hoover started sophomore seasons. Firing Line also presented two new specials that examined a major but under-reported trend in this election cycle: the unprecedented number of female Republican politicians running for office in 2020.

Ahead of the 2020 Election, The WNET Group launched an outdoor advertising campaign across the five boroughs, This is What News Looks Like. The campaign highlighted WNET’s news productions as quality and trustworthy sources for national and international reports.