West Virginia Public Broadcasting chief steps down in latest shakeup at news outlet

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — The chief director of West Virginia Public Broadcasting has stepped down after one 12 months on the job, the most recent signal of upheaval at a information outlet not too long ago shaken by a reporter’s allegation that she was fired for writing an unfavorable story a few division of the state well being division.

Butch Antolini, former communications director for Gov. Jim Justice and the state Division of Agriculture, did not give a cause for his resignation in a quick letter submitted to the board chairman of the West Virginia Instructional Broadcasting Authority on Friday. The EBA, which includes 11 voting members, together with Justice and 7 Justice appointees, accepted the resignation at a gathering Monday.

The board then appointed Eddie Isom, Public Broadcasting’s chief working officer and director of programming, as interim director, in accordance with a recording of the assembly aired on YouTube.

Antolini joined Public Broadcasting in October 2021 because the interim chief. He was appointed to the job completely in Could 2022, at a time when Justice was important of the way in which all information media lined his failed try a 12 months earlier to decrease earnings taxes and improve gross sales taxes. Justice led a shake-up of the division, changing 5 of the EBA’s eight appointed positions. The authority fired then-Government Director Chuck Roberts and appointed Antolini to interchange him.

In December 2022, part-time reporter Amelia Ferrell Knisely misplaced her job after she wrote detailed tales in regards to the alleged abuse of individuals with disabilities throughout the state company that runs West Virginia’s foster care and psychiatric amenities. The division cares for a few of the most susceptible residents in one of many poorest U.S. states. Legislative leaders described Knisely’s departure as “disturbing.”

Knisely mentioned she was advised to cease reporting on the Division of Well being and Human Sources after leaders of the embattled company “threatened to discredit” the publicly funded tv and radio community. She later realized her place was being eradicated.

Knisely mentioned her information director advised her the order got here from Antolini, who declined to remark on the time. Different officers denied any effort to affect protection. West Virginia Instructional Broadcasting Authority chairman William H. File III mentioned Antolini advised the board “he was not coerced or pressured by anybody.”

Knisely’s departure got here throughout a tumultuous time for West Virginia information media. Days earlier than she left WVPB, three reporters for the Pulitzer Prize-winning Charleston Gazette-Mail mentioned they had been fired after publicly criticizing an editorial resolution by their firm president, Doug Skaff, a Democrat within the state Home of Delegates. Skaff accredited and led a positive video interview with Don Blankenship, a coal firm govt convicted of security violations linked to one of many worst coal mining disasters in latest U.S. historical past.

The departures left a diminished Capitol press corps to cowl the three-month legislative session that began in January. Two different Public Broadcasting journalists have since left.

Antolini’s job previous to his appointment as govt director of the general public broadcasting authority was as Justice’s communications director, and earlier than that, communications chief for the state Division of Agriculture. Earlier than that, he was normal supervisor and govt editor of the Beckley Register-Herald.

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