Legendary television news reporter Janet Wu will retire from her job at WCVB-TV at the end of the year, capping a nearly four-decade run at the heart of the station’s political coverage that vexed corrupt lawmakers and captivated audiences.
The station confirmed Wu’s retirement, effective at the end of the calendar year, in a statement posted to the Channel 5 website.
Wu said in an interview Friday evening that she has “been trying to retire for the last six years, but there was always another election two years off that made me think, ‘Well, maybe I should stay and see what happens.’
“I could say that again, but I’ll be honest: I’m 72 years old. Enough is enough,” she said with a chuckle. “Plus, I have two grandchildren that are almost 2, and I’ve got another one coming, and I just want to be free to be able to travel whenever we can. … The number of minutes that you have left are very precious.”
“For nearly five decades, I’ve had the privilege of reporting on the most significant news stories and political events in Massachusetts and hopefully I have gained the trust of viewers and respect of politicians while covering the political stories that personally impact their lives,” Wu said in the statement. “I’ve covered 12 gubernatorial administrations and countless other statewide and congressional races. It is simply time to move on.”
Mayor Michelle Wu of Boston will honor Janet Wu — the first Asian American and first woman to serve as a Massachusetts State House reporter — by declaring Sunday “Janet Wu Day” during her appearance on the station’s “On The Record” program.
“Janet is an incredibly talented and highly-regarded journalist who has made countless contributions to WCVB and to the community over the course of her legendary career and as a longtime member of NewsCenter 5,” Kyle I. Grimes, WCVB Channel 5′s president and general manager, said in the statement.
Janet Wu said she feels satisfied that she was able to help open doors for wider representation across newsrooms.
“I’m a little embarrassed by all the attention, but on the other hand, I’m thinking, well, I was the first in many ways,” she said. “We still have a long ways to go, but if this means that we are accepted as part of the mix, that makes me very happy.”
“With nearly forty years at Channel 5, Janet helped to lay the foundation for the journalistic excellence and commitment to community that the station is dedicated to providing, and she will truly be missed by her entire Channel 5 family,” Grimes said.
His words were echoed by Margaret Cronan,cq the WCVB Channel 5 news director.
“Throughout Janet’s career, she has been front and center covering the most important stories across Boston’s political landscape,” Cronan said in the statement.J“[Wu’s] knowledge and expertise have been valuable resources, and her tenacity in holding politicians accountable as well as her commitment to our communities have set a powerful example for investigative and political journalists everywhere,” Cronan said.anet will always be a part of WCVB’s legacy.”
Wu began her career in journalism at United Press International, where she worked from 1973 to 1978, and spent the next five years reporting for WGBH before landing at WCVB, she said. In her early days as a reporter, “I made a ton of mistakes,” she said.
“When I started, it was really tough,” she said. “There were no Asian women that were reporters at the State House back then. There were very few women. … And to say that I was not welcomed initially would be an understatement.”
But Wu found friends among other young reporters covering state government, and they helped her learn the ropes, she said.
“It probably took me a little longer than it would take a white male, but in the end it was worth it, because it gave me the confidence to move forward,” she said.
Wu joined Channel 5 in 1983 as a State House and investigative reporter and later became the station’s political reporter, playing a key role in the outlet’s political coverage ever since, according to the statement. Since 2008, she has also cohosted “On The Record,” a weekly political interview and roundtable discussion panel, with Channel 5 anchor Ed Harding.
“[Wu’s] knowledge and expertise have been valuable resources, and her tenacity in holding politicians accountable as well as her commitment to our communities have set a powerful example for investigative and political journalists everywhere,” said Margaret Cronan, the WCVB Channel 5 news director.
According to the statement, in December 2020, Wu was inducted into the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Boston/New England Chapter’s Silver Circle, a distinction given to people with at least 25 years of noteworthy contributions to the television industry and community.
Wu and WCVB’s political unit received an Emmy Award in 2015 in the Continuing Coverage — No Time Limitcq category recognizing the station’s political coverage during the 2014 campaign season. , the statement said.
In 2015, Wu received the Inspiration Award from the Asian Community Development Corporationfor her work as a political reporter. She also received an honorary Doctor of Humane Lettersdegree from Emerson College in 2011, and in 2010, she was inducted into the Massachusetts Broadcasters Hall of Fame, the statement said.
The news business had a different pace and set of expectations when Wu began her career, she said, before technology changed the ways people exchange information.
“It was slower back then. You had more time to gather information, to dig a little deeper,” she said. “It’s harder today because there are so many demands. … But in a way, it’s a good thing because it makes you more alert; it makes you push harder for answers.”
The longtime political reporter had a simple wish following the announcement of her retirement.
“The thing that would make me happiest is if there are a bunch of politicians out there celebrating tonight,” she said. “If that’s true, I feel like my mission is accomplished.”
Material from prior Globe stories was used in this report.