PBS Announces Findings After Finding Your Roots Probe

A couple months after the big hubbub, PBS announces next steps for the genealogy TV series.

The Public Broadcasting System (PBS) has issued it’s formal response and plan following the media firestorm surrounding it’s hit genealogy focused TV series, Finding Your Roots.

Of note:

[The April 17, 2015 media reports] marked the first time that either PBS or WNET learned of [Affleck’s] request. The next day, PBS and WNET began an internal review led by Beth Hoppe and Stephen Segaller, the executives who oversee primetime programming for PBS and WNET, respectively. As part of this process, PBS and WNET examined correspondence, production records, agreements, talent releases and other documentation regarding the episode, as well as publicly available material. PBS and WNET also interviewed the co-producers, who fully cooperated in this review. The law firm of Covington and Burling, LLP assisted in this review and provided an independent perspective.

PBS and WNET have determined that the series co-producers violated PBS standards by failing to shield the creative and editorial process from improper influence, and by failing to inform PBS or WNET of Mr. Affleck’s efforts to affect program content.

Sidebar: It’s noted in paragraph two of the announcement that FYR executive producer, Dyllan McGhee, was part of Kunhardt McGhee Productions. But, in paragraph six, it’s stated that McGhee has a new production company called McGhee Productions who will still be at the helm of producing the series. I’m putting a mental pin in this. Onward…

Corrective measures include:

– Postponing the scheduling of the third season of FINDING YOUR ROOTS pending the production team’s implementation of staffing and other process changes that will significantly enhance the ability of PBS and WETA to oversee the editorial development of each episode on a timely basis, and to ensure that the problems that arose in episode #204 will be avoided in the future.

– Informing the co-producers that any commitment to a fourth season of FINDING YOUR ROOTS is being deferred until we are satisfied that the editorial standards of the series have been successfully raised to a level in which we can have confidence.

The additional staffing and procedures to be implemented during season 3 include:

– Employing an additional researcher/fact-checker.

Employing an independent genealogist to review all versions of program episodes for factual accuracy.

PBS will also withdraw episode #204 from all forms of distribution including on-air, digital platforms and home video.

I think our collective voices have been heard loud and clear.  The question is, who will they look to in order to make sure the bolded items above are done with excellence? I have concerns about “boxes just being checked off” on these things so that they can get the show on air instead of finding and employing the best people possible for the job.

What do you think about the statement and corrective measures? Sound off below 🙂

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1 thought on “PBS Announces Findings After Finding Your Roots Probe”

  1. As I “Civilian” Genealogist and Family Historian. The same is EXPECTED from me. We have to be held accountable. So shall they. It’s the body of work that has to maintain “Integrity”. We know more now than we ever did. We have to keep it going correctly. We already have a lot of making up to do. As Professionals I expect the same that is expected of me. Sources and Citations. 2nd Pair of Eyes anything they have to do to make it as authentic as possible. We have to make sure moving forward .

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