A different type of journalist is getting booked on “Meet The Press.”
The venerable NBC News Sunday public-affairs program will test a five-week series featuring college journalism students on a panel with the show’s moderator, Chuck Todd. The assemblage will even take part in one of the program’s central rituals – quizzing newsmakers on pertinent questions.
New episodes of “Meet The Press: College Roundtable” will be available every Friday on NBC News’ digital platforms, including NBC News’ YouTube channel, “Stay Tuned,” the NBC News program designed for Snapchat, and on Peacock, NBCUniversal’s new streaming-video service.
Launch of the new limited-run series is the latest in a suite of programs NBC News has tailored for younger audiences, who often gain access to video and information in ways other than watching a program at a specific day and time on a screen set in a communal home space like a family room. In recent months, NBC News has unveiled a version of its “NBC Nightly News” aimed at children available on YouTube as well as four short-form shows distributed by Quibi, the subscription-video hub aimed at mobile aficionados.
To accommodate the younger journalists – who will take part via a virtual panel – “Meet The Press” will revive its earliest format, in which a panel of reporters, not a single moderator, lobbed questions at politicians and other people in the news. The students will work with “Meet The Press” staff to shape the conversations in each week’s show.
The first roundtable features Gabe Fleisher, an incoming freshman at Georgetown University who has gained recognition for a newsletter he publishes, “Wake Up To Politics”; Aiyana Ishmael, a rising senior at Florida A&M University who has been editor in chief of the campus magazine; and Sami Sparber, a rising senior at the University of Texas at Austin who has been a reporting fellow at The Texas Tribune. They interviewed two experts in higher education and healthcare, Dr. Wayne A.I. Frederick, president of Howard University, and Dr. Robert Robbins, president of the University of Arizona,. Both officials are also medical doctors. Questions asked during the first episodes pertain to the steps necessary for universities as they try to keep students and staff safe during a global pandemic.
During an editorial prep session, Todd worked with the students to hone in on questions and advised them to “ask the questions that your friends want answered.”
During Todd’s tenure at “Meet The Press,” which he has moderated since 2014, NBC News has expanded the program into several content ventures, including a weekday hour on MSNBC, a daily newsletter, podcasts, and an annual film festival. “Everyone is trying to figure out how to get in front of millennials,” Todd told Variety in 2017. “We are no longer in the business of telling people how they should consume information. Our job is to provide depth and information in any way they want to consume it.”