The following is the text of the resignation letter given to Georgia Public Broadcasting President Teya Ryan by GPB Senior Producer Ashlie Wilson Pendley. I think it speaks very well for itself.
President & CEO
Georgia Public Broadcasting
260 14th Street, NW
Atlanta, GA 30318
It is with a grave heart but a clear mind that I respectfully tender my resignation from Georgia Public Broadcasting, effective January 31. I have served GPB since 1997, first as a contractor and then as a staff producer. I have served under a total of 6 Executive Directors, including you, so I know that recent events are not the first time nor I am sure will it be the last time that GPB has faced political pressures.
I know that you have faced a variety of challenges and difficult decisions in the last four years since you assumed leadership of GPB. I’ve witnessed four rounds of layoffs. I’ve watched the outsourcing of the sales staff, the IT helpdesk and most recently, Master Control operations. I have loyally accepted stagnant wages for the last five years, even while the cost of my benefits has increased- even in the times when furloughed- because I believed GPB was an organization that was worth the sacrifice and the hard work.
In December, it became public that GPB was hiring former Senator Chip Rogers to spearhead a new job growth and community development effort. I was shocked and curious about the sudden decision. Having been involved with coverage of 15 legislative sessions with the Lawmakers program, I followed the situation with interest. But interest turned to disgust this weekend after the AJC published Senator Rogers’ salary of $150,000. More than any other Executive Producer, more than many of the Vice Presidents- and all in a time when budget cuts are deep and the rank and file have been told there is no money.
I think it is unconscionable to create a position and compensate any individual in this manner during these difficult times. I am quite certain that considerable political pressure was brought to bear to make this a reality. I am disappointed that you felt this was GPB’s best course of action. While I might understand it to some extent, I cannot condone it and I cannot continue to stand idly by.
For all of those who cannot, I resign in protest. For all those who disapprove but must stand mute for fear of losing their jobs, I take this opportunity to speak up and speak out. This was the wrong decision for GPB. It has the appearance of the political manipulation of the public airwaves. This stinks of cronyism. I believe that this decision was in fact made at the highest political levels and forced upon this organization.
In the interest of my own personal integrity, I find I must leave. I would like to stay to make the transition as easy as possible on the Lawmakers team and therefore plan to work out my notice until January 31.
In many ways, I have not been truly happy in my work of late. First, I watched as well paid contractors replaced staff that had been laid off. As the co-creator of the Georgia Traveler series in 2005, it saddens me to see how the only remaining original host and the most talented member of that show’s staff has been treated. David Zelski is an amazing young man who can write, produce, shoot and edit. He could be running the entire production if he had the proper support.
Then this year, there were all the delays in confirming that we would indeed cover the legislature in 2013. I’m sure you recall all of those “desperate emails” prior to October 12, when you told me that Lawmakers would indeed return, but with fairly extensive changes. I learned of the new editorial management later. Because of my loyalty to the organization, I accepted the new role of coordinating producer in the greatest sense of teamwork. So much planning and hard work in such a short time took place. Most of which seems to have essentially been abandoned at the slightest hint of political displeasure within the legislature.
These recent events have caused a great deal of introspection and examination of the type of work I would like to do. I feel newly inspired to seek a new career in a new field. I do not know what the future holds, but I approach it with optimism and a newfound conviction that I am making the best decision for myself.
I very truly hope for the continued success for GPB. I have many friends among my colleagues here and I wish them all the best.
Ashlie Wilson Pendley