As NBC News celebrates the 75th anniversary of its flagship news program NBC Nightly News, Lester Holt is taking the show out of its New York studios and heading down to the south Florida region, where he will anchor and report for a new series, Nightly News: Lester Holt Reports Live from Florida.
Holt and his crew will be in Fort Myers on Monday, May 22, and in Miami on Tuesday, May 23, providing on-the-ground coverage of issues affecting the two areas.
In Fort Myers, Holt and his crew will be doing deep-diving reporting on how insurance companies are shortchanging homeowners as they struggle to rebuild South Florida following Hurricane Ian as they keep an eye on the upcoming hurricane season.
While in Miami, Holt will report on the political and cultural forces shaping Florida as the 2024 elections approach. Each of the broadcasts will also include segments from local correspondents.
A major story coming out of Florida worth covering is the growing rivalry between The Walt Disney Company and Florida’s Republican governor (and possible 2024 presidential candidate) Ron DeSantis. Disney, an iconic brand in the Sunshine State for decades, is cancelling plans to build a nearly $1 billion office complex in Florida and move more than 2,000 jobs to the state. The announcement, made Thursday, came a week after Disney CEO Bob Iger said the long-running dispute with DeSantis raised questions about the company’s continued investment there. Iger said recent actions by Florida’s governor and GOP lawmakers amounted to a “campaign of government retaliation” against Disney.
By taking Nightly News on the road, Holt is trying new ways to engage with his audience despite the limitations of the format and time constraints. As Variety puts it, “With just 22 minutes or so of air — the remainder of the half-hour running time is devoted to commercials — evening newscasts are largely hemmed in by their mandate to give viewers synopses of the day’s most important stories, in a fact-checked and succinct fashion.”
Executive in charge of the NBC Nightly News franchise Janelle Rodriguez has given Holt the latitude to take the show where he sees fit.
“We have a little more room” to try new things, says Holt. “Audiences are changing, and we try to meet them wherever they are.”
Speaking to Fort Myers-News Press, Nightly News executive producer Meghan Rafferty says the reason for their return to Florida is to “ is to do more than just report on a disaster and then forget about it.”
“These stories happen,” Rafferty says about covering disasters, “ and we want to make sure that we kind of re-invest in those communities.”