‘Beat the Press’ selected as Bart Richards Award winner

A weekly television show that covers media issues in Boston and across the nation was selected as the 2013 recipient of the Bart Richards Award for Media Criticism, presented annually by the College of Communications at Penn State.

“Beat the Press,” which airs Fridays on WGBH-TV, drew praise from judges for the national award because of its balance, diversity and timeliness. The show, part of the station’s nightly “Greater Boston” news and public affairs program, provided eight episodes as part of its compelling and complete entry for the award.

The Bart Richards Award recognizes outstanding contributions to print and broadcast journalism through responsible analysis or critical evaluation. The award will be presented Thursday, May 22, at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.

The award is named after the longtime editor of the New Castle (Pa.) News, who was one of the founders and the second president of the Pennsylvania Society of Newspaper Editors. In addition, Richards served as president of the United Press International Editors of Pennsylvania, director of the Reporters Institute of the Pennsylvania Newspaper Publishers Association and was a recipient of the Distinguished Service Award of the Pennsylvania Newspaper Publishers Association. Richards served three terms as a representative in the Pennsylvania General Assembly, representing the city of New Castle.

Each weekly episode “Beat the Press” presents three reports drawn from broadcast, online, print or social media. Moderator Emily Rooney leads a panel that regularly includes television producer and radio host Callie Crossley, Dan Kennedy of Northeastern University and guest analysts from news organizations in Boston and beyond.

Judges for the Bart Richards Award cited numerous reasons for selecting “Beat the Press” for the honor. This year’s external judges were: Carole Feldman, director of news operations and finance for The Associated Press in Washington, D.C.; Steve Geimann, an editor for Bloomberg News and president of the SDX Foundation, which supports the educational mission of the Society of Professional Journalists; and Diane McFarlin, dean of the College of Journalism and Communications at the University of Florida.

“They provided kudos before criticism, with a well-informed moderator and a strong panel,” McFarlin said. The judges reviewed finalists after dozens of entries from across the country were screened by faculty members from the College of Communications. “They were thoughtful and they really seemed to take great pains to be fair to those they were criticizing.”

The judges were unanimous in the support of “Beat the Press.”

“They were so fair and thoughtful, and in one show went back to correct a mistake they had made in an earlier show,” Geimann said. “It was engaging and watchable. Emily Rooney did a great job as host and the subject matter kept me interested right down to the last episode in their submission.”

Subject matter for the shows ranged from media coverage of the Boston Marathon bombings to ownership changes at The Boston Globe and The Washington Post. Other topics included coverage of the mayoral race in Boston -- specifically how the media focused differently on the only female candidate in the race -- and how the high-profile coverage of murder charges against a New England Patriots tight end were covered differently than charges against other accused Boston murderers.

“Best of all, the show was accessible to the general public,” Feldman said. “It was not just for journalists or some insider program, and it was not beating up the media. It was fair, honest and accessible. Add in the timeliness, and it’s an impressive effort.”

Last Updated May 28, 2014