NBCUniversal awards $500K grant to UTEP’s student journalism

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The Prospector Staff

UTEP is one of 17 higher education institutions selected to join a nationwide effort to diversify newsrooms through a new $6.5 million NBCUniversal News Group initiative. 

Over the course of two years, UTEP’s Department of Education will receive $500,000 for the expansion of journalism training programs and student internships at national media outlets. Department Chair Richard Pineda told El Paso Matters it is the largest grant in the department’s history. 

UTEP is among only three Texas schools selected for NBCU Academy, alongside Dallas College and the University of North Texas. 

The 17 universities and community colleges selected for NBCU Academy serve a student population predominantly comprised of historically underrepresented individualsseeking to challenge the significant underrepresentation of people of color in newsrooms. 

In July 2020, NBCUniversal News Group Chairman Cesar Conde sought to increase diversity and inclusion in all facets of their workplace through the “Fifty Percent Challenge Initiative,” which strives to have 50% of their employees to be people of color and 50% to be women. 

According to an interview with El Paso Matters, Pineda said, “Not only are our students being trained to be multimedia journalists and understand the capacities they have to have as journalists, but we also represent a very important and significant bilingual, bicultural demographic.” 

The Department of Communication has designated 20 fellowshipsworth $10,000 each, for summer internships outside of El Paso for multimedia journalism and digital media production students, nearly half of the NBCU Academy grant.  

Remaining funding will be allocated towardnew classes, equipment, and workshops performed with working journalists. According to El Paso Matters, NBCUniversal will also host guest lectures at UTEP, which will be open to the community. 

I’m a big believer in the idea that you can teach students as much as you want from your own experience, but until you start bringing in people that do what they want to do, you’re going to miss an important and crucial element — and I think NBC saw that kind of possibility,” Pineda told El Paso Matters. 

El Paso Matters has also reported that Pineda is actively searching for other organizations and donors to invest in UTEP’s journalism program. 

 The Prospector Staff may be reached at [email protected]