Gray launches media training center at WLBT to enhance industry diversity, train next generation of media leaders

Published: Feb. 16, 2022 at 9:33 AM CST
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Gray Television, Inc. announced plans to create the Gray Media Training Center in partnership with WLBT, the top-ranked NBC affiliate in Jackson, Mississippi.

The revolutionary media training program will prepare students for today’s unique operating environment, while simultaneously improving diversity, equity, and inclusion in media. The Center will educate and train students who attend Mississippi colleges and universities, with a focus on Historically Black Colleges and Universities in the state, namely Jackson State, Alcorn State, Mississippi Valley State, Rust College and Tougaloo College.

Students who are selected to participate in the Center’s programs will learn today’s best practices for broadcast and digital journalism. They also will receive hands-on training in production, sales, operations, IT, engineering, coding and marketing. Training Center fellows will create a weekly public affairs show that will be shot, edited, produced, directed and hosted by students. A newly created position of Media Training Center Operations Manager will oversee the program.

“We want to teach and train the students of today in a real-world environment, so they can become the future leaders of our industry for decades to come,” said Gray Executive Chairman and CEO Hilton H. Howell. “We’re excited about this project and the opportunities it will create for students and for our industry.”

Gray selected WLBT to house and run the Center in recognition of the vast changes that have occurred at that station. More than 50 years ago, the FCC revoked the station’s broadcast license because its then-licensee failed to serve the public interest and specifically failed to serve the Black community in the Jackson area.

“We are truly honored to host this training facility,” said WLBT Vice President and General Manager Ted Fortenberry. “For the past several decades, WLBT has been a local institution that affirmatively serves the entire local community. Starting this year, the WLBT team and resources will be directly involved in expanding opportunities in media for Mississippi students and especially for students of the state’s HBCUs through cutting-edge, immersive training programs right here in Jackson.”

The Gray Media Training Center is expected to officially launch when it hosts its first internship group in conjunction with the start of the fall semester in late August. Gray anticipates an investment of more than one million dollars to create the training center this year.

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