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Application Window Opens for Kneeland Project’s News Director Development Forum

- Marks 20th Anniversary of Leadership Initiative

The Kneeland Project, an innovative newsroom leadership initiative which TAB has supported for two decades, will celebrate its 20th anniversary this fall.  Kneeland’s next news director development fellowship will take place Sept. 5-8 in Austin at the TAB offices.

Applications are due June 1 and are available here.

Twenty applicants from around the U.S. will be selected to attend and thanks to generous individual and corporate broadcast funders, Kneeland forums are nearly free for the attendees.  The Kneeland Project pays all tuition costs, as well as accommodations. Participants cover only transportation and several meals.  The Kneeland Project has engaged a high-level faculty for the September conference and will focus the sessions on the changing nature of the broadcast news business.

In addition to tackling core Kneeland subjects like ethical leadership, time-saving strategies and results-driven digital ideas, the Project is covering race, religion and politics in its fall session.  In a recent survey of Kneeland Fellows, 100 percent reported they still regularly use lessons learned at Kneeland and believe that time spent at Kneeland improved their career. Many have recommended Kneeland to a friend or colleague.

Kneeland’s place in Texas broadcast history
When Carole Kneeland, the longtime news director of Austin’s KVUE-TV, passed away from cancer on Jan. 26, 1998, her husband and friends got together to honor one of her last wishes – to create a newsroom leadership training effort. 

TAB’s late president Ann Arnold and I were part of that effort from the very beginning making sure the program would get off the ground.  We had both known Carole for decades.  I had listened to Carole on Houston FM radio as a teenager and had competed against her in the Austin television news market in the 1990s.  She and I were both part of TAB’s newsroom legislative committee in 1997 in what turned out to be her last time to champion newsrooms’ cause with state lawmakers.

Carole’s expertise in journalism and in managing an award-winning, innovative newsroom was nationally-recognized as were her courtroom and legislative fights for access to public information.  TAB honored her career efforts with its 1997 Broadcaster of the Year award. She was also honored by the then Radio Television News Directors Association, now known as RTDNA.  Kneeland’s broadcast career started with reporting for Houston’s KAUM-FM in the early 1970’s. She moved to television news a few years later with Houston’s KPRC-TV and eventually ran WFAA-TV’s Capitol bureau before taking over the helm of the KVUE newsroom. 

The Kneeland legacy
It was Carole’s belief that newsroom managers often received little or no training to help them succeed in the high-pressure environment of running a television newsroom.  She hoped we could pass along best practices for managing newsrooms based upon her and others’ experience, and so The Kneeland Project was born shortly after her death.  It began with a single, multi-day leadership forum in the fall of 1998 and has since grown to two training sessions a year as well as an online training component.  Kneeland has also provided occasional training at broadcast journalism conferences.

In the ensuing 20 years, TAB has helped The Kneeland Project in many ways by providing meeting space, administrative support, fundraising assistance and leadership on the Kneeland board of directors.  Twenty fellows from around the country are chosen for each forum from a national pool of applicants.  The Kneeland Project brings in a rotating faculty of trainers to provide insight and tools for leading television newsrooms in today’s broadcast, online and mobile landscape.

In these forums, new and veteran television news directors learn systems and approaches that address fostering a culture of enterprise reporting, developing staff coaching skills, managing multi-generational newsrooms, adapting to new technologies, achieving work/life balance and a host of other topics.  Many Kneeland attendees say the experience is life-altering and often the most significant professional development they have ever received.

Texas continues to benefit
The Kneeland Project has trained nearly 450 television news directors from around the country in the past two decades.  Of those, more than 75 were working in Texas when they attended a Kneeland fellowship or have since moved here to run a Texas television newsroom.  Two of those have since left the news director chair to become TV station general managers in other states.

As we head toward the Kneeland Project’s 20th anniversary, there are 28 Kneeland Fellows working as television news directors in Texas, from markets as large as Houston and Dallas to some of the smallest markets in the state. That’s nearly a third of all Texas television news directors.  TAB is proud to have been part of this effort and to have helped many Texas news directors through our involvement. It is a fitting celebration of Carole’s career and her impact on Texas broadcasting.

Questions?  Contact TAB's Michael Schneider or call (512) 322-9944.

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