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Capus Sets Sights On Digital Platforms; Task Force Explores Options; People “Want News On Their Own Terms”

“If you were interviewing ten years ago the people who were running news divisions, and you asked them what their jobs were, they would say: ‘We have to worry about our morning show. We have to worry about our Nightly News show, and what we’re doing in primetime.’ And that was pretty much it.”

But times, and job descriptions, have changed. Nowadays, “something like MSNBC.com is as important a component of this news division as is the Nightly News,” new NBC News president Steve Capus says. And his assignment is clear: “Get the fantastic work of the people of NBC News in front of as many eyeballs as possible.”

“Whether that’s people watching TV or looking at a cell phone screen or reading news on their Blackberry, or all of the different platforms, it almost doesn’t matter to me,” he said in a conversation with TVNewser yesterday. “I just want them turning to NBC News.”

Capus was officially named president on Tuesday. About six weeks ago, while serving as acting president, Capus established the NBC News Digital Task Force.

Headed up by vice president Mark Lukasiewicz, the group meets weekly to discuss new media efforts. (Capus called Lukasiewicz a real terrific visionary and said he is spending 100 percent of his time on digital media efforts.)

“It’s the job of this task force to come up with some ideas, look at some other things going on in the marketplace, and help us prioritize where we want to go next,” Capus said.

The next question was obvious: “Where do we want to go next?”

“Well out of that task force grew the Nightly News Netcast,” Capus said, calling it “very smart.” “We’ve got a couple other broadcasts in the pipeline for that.” (Meet the Press is the next one.)

“We’ve had a lot of different ideas,” he continued. “I just came out of another meeting where somebody had suggested an interactive online quiz that’s pegged to the news, and I think that’s a great idea. There’s any number of things that involve the Internet, that involve DVD’s, that involve wireless, that involve cell phones, that involve podcasts — you name it, there’s all kinds of things out there. There’s some things we’re already doing, and there’s some things we’re going to do.”

(Understandably, he wouldn’t tip his hand about the specifics.)

Toward the end of the conversation, Capus summed up his plan. “People are going to want news on their own terms. They want to be able to get it from the platform they pick, when they desire it, where they desire it. It’s our intention to be there every step of the way.”

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