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The University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill is partnering with its local television station, WRAL-TV, on a fellowship program to encourage diversity within broadcast journalism. In its first year, the fellowship will run from March 13 to 17, and the deadline for applicants has been extended to January 25.

Dr. C.A. Tuggle, Reese Felts Distinguished Professor and head of the electronic communication specialization at UNC-Chapel Hill said WRAL general manager Steve Hammel initially approached the school after working with a similar program at Arizona State University.

“Lots of people are of the opinion that local television news quite often does not reflect visually the makeup of the market,” Tuggle told Madame Noire. “Local TV news as a whole has been talking for 10 years or more about how we need to develop more diversity in the ranks of news reporters, news anchors, news managers and more. This is a way to do that. If we can get an idea of who these students are, we can track their careers and build a pipeline.”

Students can apply if they are a graduating senior or a graduate student finishing his or her program this year at any college or university. The deadline was originally December 31, but due to the holidays, the program decided to extend the application period. Tuggle said that has been fruitful, and since early January, they have seen interest from students not only from UNC, but also Texas, Kentucky, and even abroad.

During the five-day intensive, 10 to 15 students will work with UNC professors and WRAL employees to learn more about what to expect upon entering the industry full-time and will gain on hands-on reporting experience. Because students should already be versed in the industry, as they are graduating this year, the program will mostly work to help them get polished up to head out into the workforce.

“On the resume reels sent to potential employers, they typically want to see three solid stories, so the main goal is to help the students develop their first story,” Tuggle said. “One that really shines and can be a selling point for the job applicant.”

Tuggle also highlighted the importance of reaching students as young as high school age, teaching them about journalism and working to build a diverse industry. This is the first year of UNC-WRAL program, so hopefully it will continue to grow and inspire other groups to work to increase diversity in broadcast journalism.

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