NBC news president pays visit to U.


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Photo by Alyssa Ezon |

NBC News President Steve Capus stresses better media consumption last night at the Alexander Library on the College Avenue campus.


NBC News President Steve Capus came to the University's Alexander Library on the College Avenue campus last night to discuss the ins and outs of the news industry to media students.

Journalism and Media Studies Professor Ben Davis introduced Capus, who in November 2005 was named president of NBC News. Capus is responsible for all aspects of America's highest-rated and most-watched network news division, as well as MSNBC and NBC News Channel.

At the start of the lecture, Capus asked students to call out sources of information they use to keep up with the world, and people should ask themselves why they gravitate to specific sites, he said.

Capus also gave advice to students who would like to pursue careers in journalism. He said students should have a natural curiosity.

The industry might be dying, but the field provides aspirants with opportunities to prove themselves and demonstrate their talent and dedication, Capus said. Networks will now often assign multiple tasks that might not fit job descriptions.

"Increasingly, we're asking people to do it all," he said.

He said NBC News will adapt to the ever-changing news market.

"I want NBC News to be anywhere news consumers are," Capus said.

Students sent in questions through Twitter and asked questions live, which Capus answered during his talk.

In response to a Twitter question about diversity in the newsroom, Capus said it is an issue that is addressed consistently at NBC and affects not only what is put on-air but also how editorial meetings develop and how interview subjects are chosen.

Capus answered a Twitter question regarding the importance of networking by noting that although connections may help open doors, in a cost-wary environment it ultimately comes down to the work an individual puts forth.

Some students asked questions about how news industries adapt to the ever-changing environment, and how these they manage to be quick and accurate at the same time. 

School of Arts and Sciences junior Christian Kloberdanz asked how networks manage to be quick, effective and responsible during a 24-hour news cycle.

"How do you balance the need to be accurate and have some perspective to your news while also trying to be the first one out there?" Kloberdanz said.

Capus said he focuses on accuracy before focusing on quickness.

"I would rather be second with the accurate story," he said. "We want to maintain our reputation. Otherwise, why watch?"

School of Arts and Sciences senior Jayme Cohen asked Capus how reporters and editors maintain objectivity when confronted with emotional situations, like Hurricane Katrina or the earthquake in Haiti.

"You emphasized getting a unique story, and there's a fine line between an opinion and objectivity," Cohen said. "How do people separate those two things when directing themselves?"

Some stories have a clear moral direction that can be revealed through research or other means, Capus said.

"Being objective doesn't mean every story has two sides from it," he said.

When asked about the fracas between Conan O'Brien and Jay Leno, Capus said since advertisement revenue is down and costs are up in television, tough decisions must be made. Still, he felt the media made the issue more important than it actually was.

"I thought it received more attention than 1,000 stories that deserved it," Capus said.

He said in a time when new information seems omnipresent, they need to reflect on how they receive it.

"Be a smart news consumer," Capus said.


Greg Flynn

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