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Do not adjust your picture: WKBW is turning Orange

The roster of well-known broadcast journalists who came to TV via Syracuse University is long and impressive, including Bob Costas of NBC, Jeanne Moos of CNN and Tonawanda's own Jeff Glor of CBS.

Thanks to a program that includes WKBW, some other Orange alumni are getting their start in Buffalo.

WKBW-TV reporter Josh Bazan became the latest success story involving a E.W. Scripps Company program tied to Syracuse University’s prestigious S.I Newhouse School of Public Communications when he left Channel 7 for a job at the sister Scripps station in Cincinnati, the nation’s No. 35 TV market.

Bazan, who was in the first class of the Journalism Career Program or JCP that Scripps began with Syracuse almost three years ago, follows former Channel 7 reporter Paola Suro at WCPO in Cincinnati as a multimedia journalist. That’s a fancy word for a reporter who has multiple roles besides just covering stories for a TV station.

Scripps stations in Bakersfield, Calif., and Kansas City, Mo., also have JCP programs connected to the communications schools at Arizona State University and the University of Missouri.

The two other Syracuse graduates in Bazan’s first class have also moved on to jobs outside of Buffalo, which is the No.52 market in the country.

After a year of JCP as a digital producer at WKBW, Bretton Keenan accepted a digital producer job at the Scripps station in Cleveland, the nation’s No. 19 market.

After his year of JCP at WKBW, Cole Ellenbogen accepted an offer as a news producer at the Scripps station in West Palm, Fla., WBTV, the nation’s No. 37 market.

The partnership is a win-win-win for Channel 7, Scripps and Syracuse.

“The Journalism Career Program or JCP has been an incredible addition to our news operation and a great experience for the participants,” wrote Channel 7 General Manager Michael Nurse in an email. “I am continuously impressed with the quality of the candidates at Newhouse and I love the energy and fresh ideas they bring to our newsroom. We are proud to help provide a pipeline of great talent for the company.”

Madison Carter (Courtesy of Madison Carter)

Channel 7 News Director Rob Heverling also sings the praises of the program, which now has its third Syracuse class working at the station.

“The JCP program has been a remarkable experience,” he wrote in an email. “These are smart, well-trained, young journalists coming out of Newhouse. If they are selected, they immediately start our JCP training program. The awareness of the program seems to have really taken off at Newhouse.

Bazan isn’t the only member of the JCP program to stay after his year was up. Jeff Slawson, who was in the second class, remains at Channel 7 as a reporter.

His JCP classmates have left after their year-long duties at Channel 7 ended.

After a year at Channel 7, Fatima Bangura accepted a job as a digital producer at the Scripps station in Detroit, WXYZ, the nation’s No. 14 market .

After a year at Channel 7, Chris DiMaria accepted a job as a multi-media journalist at the Scripps station in Tulsa, Okla., KJRH, the nation’s No. 61 market.

After a year at WKBW, Brittany Muller accepted an offer to become a multi-media journalist at “Hello Southwest Florida” for the Scripps station in Fort Myers, Fla., the nation’s No. 55 market.

The entire third class of the JCP program consists of reporters who currently are on the air – Nikki DeMentri, Sean Robson, Rebecca Thornburg and James Groh.

Nurse added that Channel 7 has provided feedback and guidance to Syracuse concerning its curriculum.

"A professor is actually working on a study of our newsroom and changes we are making as well," wrote Nurse. "It is a nice mutual feedback loop. We have helped (I believe) in providing real-time impact on the curriculum becoming more digitally centered. The program has gained a great reputation at Newhouse and professors help identify candidates."

"One of the main benefits of the program for the participants is heavy feedback, training and mentoring. This is designed to ease them into the demands of the industry versus the classroom. That has been critical in the success of the program and retention. They also get to start their career at a mid-size market versus market 150 without the support systems."

Of course, Syracuse University journalism graduates have always had a significant presence on Western New York airwaves. Channel 7’s new noon anchor Madison Carter is a Syracuse graduate.

The Syracuse alumni club at WGRZ-TV (Channel 2) is especially large, including morning co-anchor Melissa Holmes, anchor-reporter Kelly Dudzik, sports director Adam Benigni and sports reporters Stu Boyar and Heather Prusak.

WIVB-TV’s (Channel 4) most recent hire, Marlee Tuskes, received her master’s from Syracuse after earning her bachelor’s degree at the University at Buffalo.

And Channel 4 anchor-reporters Katie Alexander and Marissa Perlman are Syracuse graduates.

At Spectrum News, anchor-reporters Scott Patterson and Katie Gibbs, reporter Mark Goshgarian and sports reporter Ted Goldberg are all Syracuse graduates.




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