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NBC News partners with New York Film Academy to teach training courses

The partnership of NBC News with the New York Film Academy is compelling for a single reason: it comes with the implied — if not a promise — of a job. At least that’s the way it is being perceived by many in the outside world.

Media-related Web sites and postcard mailers have heavily promoted the new course. In Los Angeles, billboards for the four-week, eight-week and one-year digital journalism training programs promote the classes.

The need for training in digital technologies is the reason for its new business venture, NBC News executives said. More than 80 prospective students, some of them midcareer journalists seeking to keep their skills up to date, turned out on April 5 for an open house at NBC’s Rockefeller Center headquarters to promote the program, Lyne Pitts, an NBC News vice president, told the “New York Times.”

However, in some academic circles, the new school is being met with skepticism. A curriculum focused on teaching new technologies “misses the point,” said Dianne Lynch, dean of the Park School of Communications at Ithaca College. “You have to have the tools so you can say the things you have to say, but first you have to have something to say.”

Moreover, she said, the NBC News branding makes “a promise by inference” of potential jobs. “What it looks like is a ticket into a national media organization,” she told the newspaper.

“We make absolutely no guarantees about a job; we can’t,” said Pitts. “When you graduate from college, the goal is you have accomplished the terms of graduation the school has set forth. But what you do with that knowledge is up to you.”

NBC News’s profit-making arrangement in the program is believed to be a first for a major news organization. After conversations with several academic and technical programs, Pitts said, NBC settled on the New York Film Academy, the 16-year-old school that teaches more than 6000 entering students each year.

The goal is to attract about 100 students across three campuses to the yearlong program, which begins Sept. 22, and charges tuition of $35,366. NBC gets an undisclosed percentage of that, Pitts said.

NBC News employees, from camera operators to correspondents to NBC News’s president, Steve Capus, will be actively involved in the program, with a weekly presence in the one-year program, Pitts said. The intention is to be “a living laboratory for students,” she said, adding that “there is something from our professional perspective that is unique.”