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Doane experiences lead alumnus to NBC job

Ziad Jaber ’09, associate producer at the NBC News Chicago bureau, said he gets nervous when his plane lands to cover breaking news.

“There’s always this anxious feeling when you land on the ground where you think ‘Can I really do this?’” he said.

It’s no wonder when Ziad lists off recent stories he has covered -- the Cleveland kidnap and rescue, the Boston Marathon bombing, Hurricane Sandy and the shooting in Newtown, Conn.

Ziad, though, said that once he starts working he remembers he’s capable. He began working at NBC in August 2009, and works with reporters and camera crews to produce content for “NBC Nightly News,” “The Today Show” and MSNBC.

He attributes some of his success to the mentorship he received from journalism professors Lee Thomas, David Swartzlander and Erik Anderson while at Doane.

“I was at a big advantage (in the workforce) because Erik was a former camera operator,” he said. “The professional world was surprised by a younger guy who could shoot so well.”

Ziad transferred to Doane as a junior from a community college. He was an economics major and began working as a disc jockey for Doane’s radio station, KDNE.

Thomas, adviser for KDNE, pulled him into his office and told him he should take journalism classes. He took a few classes and became news director for Doane’s TV station, DCTV, and station manager for KDNE.

“He began advancing up the chain at the radio station and seemed to have a real interest in journalism and media,” Thomas said. “He’d drift into your office and talk about an idea he would have. Those are the (students) you love.”

Ziad decided he wanted to pursue a career in journalism after an Interterm trip to Washington, D.C., with Swartzlander to cover the Presidential Inauguration.  He was asked to be in charge of audio and video during the three-week trip.

“It was a big eye opener for me,” he said. “It made me really, really hungry to do (journalism) for real.”

Swartzlander said that a liberal arts education was great for students especially those seeking to be journalists. “To be a journalist you have to know a little bit about a lot of subjects,” he said. “That’s what’s cool about a liberal arts education....”

Ziad encouraged students to be involved in as much as they could while at Doane because it led to who he became after graduation.

“You went to a small school for a reason.”

PHOTO: Nate Knobel '14