NBCU News Group seminar highlights unusual education effort

Oct 17, 2022, 10:42 AM | Updated: Oct 18, 2022, 4:43 am

NEW YORK (AP) — Leaning into education aggressively and uncommonly so for a media organization, NBC News is making its leaders available to students this week for a one-day digital seminar on how to succeed in the news business.

The second Next Level Summit being held Tuesday is part of NBCU Academy, a nearly two-year-old initiative that also includes jobs, journalism training videos and partnerships with some 45 colleges and universities.

The effort is aimed primarily, but not exclusively, at students from diverse backgrounds. Cesar Conde, chair of the NBC Universal News Group, said in 2020 that his goal was to have a company workforce that was at least half women and half people of color.

The presidents of NBC News, MSNBC and CNBC are all participating in Tuesday’s summit, speaking on how students can help meet the demand for digital and streaming content. Other panels include using social media for newsgathering and new technology in sports coverage.

NBC Universal committed to $6.5 million in funding for NBCU Academy when it was announced at the beginning of last year.

The aim is to grow journalists, said Yvette Miley, who runs NBCU Academy as senior vice president of diversity, equity and inclusion at the news group.

“You can’t just sit in the back end of the pipeline and wait for students to come out of it ready to go,” Miley said.

NBC helps develop courses and conduct workshops at participating schools. The network funds scholarships and has hired 11 young journalists for a two-year “embed” program — all of them from diverse backgrounds.

Since Conde announced his goals, 48% of the news group’s new hires have been people of color, and 63% are women. Conde said Monday he’s also looking to build a staff with more differences in geography, socioeconomic status and experiences.

Jose Diaz-Balart, Tom Llamas, Chuck Todd and Kristen Welker are among the NBC News personalities who have filmed video tutorials on such subjects as interview techniques and how to deal with sources. They’re available for any educator to use.

MSNBC President Rashida Jones is among the executives who make themselves available for mentoring.

Jones said she went to college wanting to become a print reporter, because she thought the only jobs available in television news were on-air reporters. She quickly learned about other roles, such as producing, which she was doing for a local station in Norfolk, Virginia, before she even finished school.

“Every time I speak to students I think of the 17-year-old version of myself and what I wanted to learn,” Jones said.

Her central advice: Prepare, even over-prepare, for interviews and new jobs so you aren’t surprised by what comes your way.

At the University of Missouri School of Journalism, NBC helped conduct workshops on diversity and investigative reporting for high school students this past summer, said dean David Kurpius.

Students respond positively to advice from experts — some of whom they recognize — who are currently working in the business, he said.

“I think these attract students and more new employees who are very much going to be the future leaders in this industry and that’s very important,” he said.

Through the academy, NBC is also helping fund documentary projects, sending out guest lecturers and offering career coaching. A journalism boot camp was conducted at the U.S. Open golf tournament, Miley said.

She also issued a challenge.

“We have an opportunity to lead in this space and I certainly hope other companies find their way into this space,” she said.

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NBCU News Group seminar highlights unusual education effort