Tag Archives: tom bettag

Tom Bettag in AP on That Anonymous New York Times Op/Ed

Tom Bettag

Tom Bettag

COLLEGE PARK (9/7/18) — The New York Times should brace for criticism if the anonymous author of a recently published op/ed is revealed and found wanting.

The Times published an opinion piece Wednesday in which the writer, who was granted anonymity, said a group of administration officials were secretly working to thwart parts of President Donald Trump’s agenda. An editor’s note described the author as a “senior official in the Trump administration.”

Reporters at the Times and elsewhere are scrambling to uncover the author’s identity. Some are asking what constitutes a “senior official.”

Tom Bettag, Eleanor Merrill Distinguished Visiting Fellow at the University of Maryland Philip Merrill College of Journalism, told the Associated Press that if the author is not among the top 20 officials in the Trump administration, “the Times just gets creamed.”

Bettag, a veteran and award-winning television news producer, said the Times‘ description of the author “gets held against them in the biggest possible way” if the writer is deemed a more junior member of the administration.

But he also expressed confidence in the news organization’s judgment.

“I have enough respect for the Times to believe that they wouldn’t hold themselves up to that,” Bettag told the AP.

Bettag, best known as the executive producer for ABC News’ “Nightline with Ted Koppel,” is the winner of 30 Emmy awards, two Peabody awards, six DuPont silver batons and the Fred Friendly First Amendment Award.

For more information, contact:
Alexander A. Pyles

In Poor Health Series Wins Major NABJ Collegiate Award

CNS & Baltimore Urban Reporting Class with Tom Bettag and Kaiser Health News present "In Poor Health - health care disparities around Freddie Gray's Neighborhood."

COLLEGE PARK, Md. (August 16) – Merrill College’s urban affairs reporting class (Professor Sandy Banisky), Capital News Service (CNS Digital Bureau Chief Sean Mussenden) and Visiting Fellow Tom Bettag were named National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) “Salute to Excellence” winners Aug. 12 in the Online Collegiate “Use of Multimedia – Special Project category.”

The award was announced during an awards gala in New Orleans during NABJ’s national convention.

The award was for “In Poor Health: Why is Baltimore’s world-renowned health system struggling to keep Freddie Gray’s neighbors – some of the cities poorest residents – from getting sick?” The series was produced in concert with Kaiser Health News and received widespread coverage around the U.S. and the world.

In a post on Facebook, Dean Lucy Dalglish said, “I’m very proud to be representing the college in New Orleans tonight!”

The investigative series has won (and been nominated for) numerous awards over the past year including:


TERP Magazine: Laughter With a Side of Facts

– Photo by John Consoli.

Is the Next Jon Stewart at UMD?

by Liam Farrell

For students behind the anchor desk in the basement of Tawes Hall this spring, the model for news in the 21st century is less the stern anchor behind the desk than the standup comic behind the microphone.

As journalism idols like Walter Cronkite give way to Samantha Bee, a new course is letting students inject some laughs into their news delivery by producing satirical pilots à la Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show” and HBO’s “Last Week Tonight With John Oliver.”

The course, taught by Tom Bettag, a former executive producer for “ABC News Nightline with Ted Koppel,” is part of an effort at the Philip Merrill College of Journalism to explore new avenues for practicing the craft.

“The evening news is such a tired form,” Bettag says. “[Students] have seen it since they were born, and it’s all so canned and so hyped, it turns them off.”

Read the entire story on the TERP Magazine website.

Election Watch Class Has Unique View of Election 2016

COLLEGE PARK, Md. (Sept. 26) – Merrill College students are getting a unique perspective on the 2016 presidential election this fall – and the coverage of it by the three major broadcast networks.

Thanks to a new Merrill College class by Eleanor Merrill Distinguished Visiting Fellow Tom Bettag, students enrolled in “Election 2016 – Managing a Broadcast” are taking a serious look at just how NBC, CBS and ABC are covering the candidates and the issues.

Bettag said, “This course will produce play-by-play commentary of this network competition during the climactic stretch of the campaign. The goal is to understand what makes great coverage and a compelling broadcast.”

Bettag told Merrill journalist Simone Thomas his broadcast and multimedia students will get practical experience in all aspects of journalism:

Analyzing How the Networks Inform Voters

Bettag’s students have a simple assignment: watch every weekday evening news broadcast and contrast the coverage. They will be asked to examine the reporting, writing, ethical decisions, statistics and graphic presentation, studio presentation, and utilization of supporting web materials.

And they’ll be blogging about it all on their new “Election Watch” website – hosted by Merrill College’s Capital News Service. After the election, the students will produce a final site to address “lessons learned.”


Student Becca King ’17 says she was excited about the class last spring when it was first proposed, adding it was a “perfect fit” given she’s a journalism and government double major. “I really think this blog is going to be fantastic. Tom is working with us to develop and perfect our writing skills, which is something some broadcast majors lose track of in the midst of turning day-turns (broadcast news stories). I can’t wait to have a product I, and the rest of our team, are proud to show off.”

Students in the class also have a group of 27 professional journalists to talk to – to get their assessment of what is best journalistic practice. The experts include Candy Crowley, Jeff Greenfield, Connie Chung and David Folkenflick.

Bettag said, “I hope this will help our students look at election coverage more critically. I hope those covering the election knows someone is watching.”

Tom Bettag Named December Commencement Speaker

Tom Bettag working with Merrill CNS Broadcast students along with former CBS correspondent Wyatt Andrews.

Tom Bettag doing what he loves best – working with students. Here he’s with former CBS Correspondent Wyatt Andrews at the CNS Broadcast Bureau in Tawes Hall.

COLLEGE PARK, Md. –  Eleanor Merrill Distinguished Visiting Fellow Tom Bettag will be the Merrill College December commencement speaker.

Bettag is best known as the executive producer for ABC News “Nightline” with Ted Koppel, is the winner of 30 Emmy awards, two Peabody awards, six DuPont silver batons and the Fred Friendly First Amendment Award.

Among his professional experiences are 22 years with CBS News, which included working as a producer for “CBS Evening News with Walter Cronkite” and “60 Minutes” and as executive producer of the “CBS Evening News with Dan Rather” from 1986-91.

From CBS, he moved to ABC News, where he was executive producer of ABC News “Nightline” with Ted Koppel from 1991 – 2006, and spent three years overseeing ABC’s “This Week with George Stephanopoulos.”

He was executive producer of CNN’s Sunday morning programming from 2009-2011. He moved to NBC News in 2011 to work as a producer on “Rock Center with Brian Williams” for three years.

Bettag holds an M.S. from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.

As a visiting fellow, Bettag is working with Merrill  College student journalists and faculty on in-depth news projects. He is also advising the college on curriculum and other broadcast initiatives. The visiting fellowship is made possible by the generosity of the family of Philip Merrill, the late owner of the Annapolis Gazette and Washingtonian magazine.

Merrill sophomore Kristine Auble spoke with Bettage about what he hopes to talk about in his speech Dec. 20 at 3:30 p.m. in the Stamp Student Union.