NBC-Owned Stations Launch New Development Programs Focused on Diversity

By Merrill Knox 

NBC has launched two new development programs, designed to recruit an ethnically-diverse range of on and off air journalists, at its 10 owned-and-operated local stations.

KNBC, NBC’s O&O in Los Angeles, came under fire last month after several demotions among the station’s on-air Hispanic talent. A KNBC spokesperson attributed the moves to the evolving nature of talent and assignments, which are constantly changing.

“While our stations are among the best in the industry at reflecting the diversity of the markets we serve, we can always do better,” Valari Staab, president of the NBC owned television stations, said in a statement. “One way to do that is to make sure we have a full pipeline of news talent ready for both on and off the air positions.”

The two programs separate recent college graduates into two tracks: a “News Associates” program for aspiring producers, editors and writers, and a “Reporter Training” program for aspiring on-air talent. The 10 News Associates, who began orientation last week, will spend a year learning production techniques at the various stations with the help of a senior-level mentor.

The Reporter Training program, which begins in January, is currently recruiting four on-air journalists to be assigned to NBC O&Os nationwide — one each at KXAS in Dallas, WRC in Washington, DC, WTVJ in Miami and KNSD in San Diego.

The full release from NBC is below:

NEW YORK, NY – September 19, 2011 – NBC Owned Television Stations today announced the launch of two new development programs designed to attract aspiring young journalists from diverse backgrounds to news roles both on and off the air. Last week, the division kicked off its highly competitive News Associates program, welcoming 10 recent college graduates to news rooms at its 10 stations around the country, and introduced a new Reporter Training program, encouraging talented individuals to consider careers as television reporters. 

“While our stations are among the best in the industry at reflecting the diversity of the markets we serve, we can always do better. One way to do that is to make sure we have a full pipeline of news talent ready for both on and off the air positions,” said Valari Staab, President of the NBC Owned Television Stations. “We’re excited about developing and investing in young journalists from diverse backgrounds who we hope will one day be news room managers and great reporters at our stations across the country.”

Modeled after the successful NBC News program, the year-long News Associates curriculum is designed to attract recent college graduates from diverse backgrounds to careers as producers, editors and writers. The 10 participants, who were selected from thousands of applicants, began their orientation last week. Throughout the year, the associates will learn first-hand the different news room roles and responsibilities, acquire editorial judgment, develop story-telling skills and gain experience both in the field and studio shooting footage and editing and writing stories. Each associate will be matched with a senior-level mentor at his or her assigned station who will help guide the associate throughout the year. At the end of the program, the real-world experience the associate gains will help position him or her for available entry-level news room jobs at the 10 NBC-owned stations.

In addition to the News Associates program, NBC Owned Television Stations is also introducing a new Reporter Training program aimed at developing talented young journalists from diverse backgrounds to become great television reporters. The station group will be recruiting for four positions – one each at its Dallas-Fort Worth, Washington, D.C., Miami and San Diego stations – to attract television or digital journalists early in their careers or experienced print journalists interested in transitioning to television as on-air reporters. The program, which will start in January, will include a significant investment in training and coaching to equip the selected participants with the skills necessary to develop into successful television reporters. At the end of the program, the selected participants are expected to be prepared for reporter roles in NBC’s 10-station group, including larger market stations like Los Angeles and New York.

Several organizations representing journalists from ethnically diverse backgrounds applauded the development programs.

“We salute NBC for taking the initiative to train talented students from diverse backgrounds in areas in which there is a significant lack of diversity,” said Gregory Lee, Jr., President of the National Association of Black Journalists. “We hope that this is a long-term plan in preparing these budding students to become executive producers, general managers and lead anchors of the future.”

“NAHJ applauds NBC for its investment in young, diverse talent,” said Michele Salcedo, President of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists. “While these programs will not change the immediate need for more Latinos on or off camera, programs like the Reporter Training program and News Associate program provide the training and all-important mentoring to ensure journalists of color advance in their careers and give voice to communities that are growing in number, but are rarely heard.”

“The Asian American Journalists Association is encouraged to see NBC setting an example for other news media by emphasizing the importance of promoting diverse hires who reflect our dynamic communities,” said Doris Truong, President of the Asian American Journalists Association. “And our organization has active chapters in all the cities chosen for the Reporter Training program, so I hope the participants will reach out to our members locally for further mentoring and career support.”

Both of these programs will enable NBC’s 10 owned stations, where 40 percent of on-air talent and one-third of all news room staff are ethnically diverse, to continue the momentum on increasing diversity in all aspects of local news. More information on the News Associates program is available at www.nbcunicareers.com under Early Career Programs and the four Reporter Training program positions will be posted at www.nbcunicareers.com under NBC Owned Television Stations.