I’m glad I was watching Natalie Morales fill in for Brian Williams last night on NBC Nightly News. Otherwise, I would have missed news of the launch of NBC Latino.com, a English-language news information and lifestyle Website featuring Hispanic’s perspectives.
“I’ll be a regular contributor along with many of my colleagues,” Morales said as she announced the debut of the site, which is touted as “The New Voice of American Hispanics.”
The announcement appeared in last night’s Nightly News broadcast right after a report on the election of Pena Nieto as Mexico’s new president.
It speaks to the marketing synergy of NBC Universal to cross-promote its media platforms. The perennial top-rated network evening newscast showcased the nation’s newest spot on the World Wide Web for news about Hispanics, which will be powered by content from Telemundo, which it also also owned along with MSBNC, CNBC and The Weather Channel.
NBC News’ Hispanic Brigade?
NBC Correspondents Gabe Gutierrez, Miguel Almaguer, and Tom Llamas along with Today Show news reader Natalie Morales were all mentioned by name in the news release Monday on the launch of NBC Latino. (Photos: Courtesy NBC News)
Beyond the announcement of the NBC Latino launch, what was even more interesting was how the network also used the opportunity to showcase its stable of Hispanic reporters and the Hispanic editor who will be leading the site.
““The goal of NBC Latino is to take Hispanic news beyond the usual conversation, toward something more inspired, empowered and energized; to tell and reflect the Hispanic-American story with authentic voices, and make NBC the brand of choice for Hispanics across mobile, online and TV,” said Chris Pena, the executive editor,who is leading a staff of bilingual writers and producers.
As a newsroom manager, Pena has come up through the NBC ranks starting out running Telemundo’s news operation in Houston before moving to the company’s Miami’s station, WTVJ and then Chicago’s WMAQ before moving to the network’s New York headquarters last summer.
Some might suggest NBC Universal grew its own in Pena’s success leading to his role at the helm of NBC Latino.
Even as NBC Latino launches, the network has proven that it can place Hispanic reporters on the frontlines covering the day’s top stories, especially when they bring a resume of journalism awards to the table.
While they may contribute to a target website like NBC Latino, these same reporters are already front-and-center on other NBC platforms too. All too often targeted web sites will be used to grow “second-string” talent. That is not the case here.
Miguel Almaguer reported from Colorado Springs on Monday's broadcast.
A great example of that was shown last night as Miguel Almaguer, the award-winning Burbank-based correspondent, presented updates from Colorado Springs where wildfires have claimed dozens of homes.
Almaguer brought lots of experience doing that kind of coverage as he has won awards for similar stories produced during wildfires in San Diego.
Another media company, Gannett, pioneered the diversity principle of mainstreaming or ensuring news sources of color are used all types of stories. The same is true for reporters who are assigned to cover all stories, not just those with a focus on race or diversity.
Almaguer has been the lead talent on coverage of the wildfires and did a similar job in reporting on the death of Rodney King last month.
Building on The GRIO’s Success
Along with mainstreaming, NBC Universal has long ago realized the importance of targeting content. Most recently, the launch in June 2008 of TheGRIO.com as “the first video-centric news community site devoted to providing African-Americans with stories and perspectives that appeal to them but are underrepresented in existing national news outlets.”
Beyond the online community, TheGRIO.com offered its GRIO 100 during Black History Month, vignettes on up-and-coming African American leaders in all walks of life. For at least the past three years, we’ve seen that list of African Americans the site says “still have work to do.”
Will we see a “Latino 100” or similar set of reports to air during Hispanic/Latino Heritage Month this September?
As the cliche goes, “only time will tell.”
For now NBC’s multi-pronged effort at targeting and mainstreaming stories and storytellers from diverse racial backgrounds reflects a sophisticated strategy its broadcast , cable and online competitors would do well to imitate.
George L. Daniels is an associate professor of journalism and former chair of the SPJ Diversity Committee. He currently serves as a member of the SPJ National Board of Directors.