WTTW hires news director from MSNBC

Hugo Balta

Hugo Balta, former senior producer at MSNBC, has been tapped to lead the news operation of WTTW-Channel 11, Chicago’s premier public television station.

Balta, 49, has been named news director for WTTW News and executive producer of “Chicago Tonight,” the station’s flagship nightly news program, parent company Window to the World Communications announced Monday. His appointment is effective February 3.

Calling Balta “an innovative and seasoned journalist and news executive with a proven track record of success across media and a deep understanding of the importance of local journalism,” Sandra Cordova Micek, president and CEO of WTTW, said in a statement: “His entrepreneurial experience leading the vision and execution of quality news and driving strategy of live news programming makes him uniquely qualified to lead WTTW News successfully into the future.”

As executive producer of “Chicago Tonight,” he succeeds Mary Field, who retired in July after 23 years at the station. The position of news director is newly created.

At MSNBC for the past year, Balta oversaw editorial and production of weekend shows and was a member of the NBC/MSNBC editorial board. It marked his second stint at the cable network, following a run as news producer from 1999 to 2001. He previously spent seven years at ESPN as senior director of multicultural content.

Earlier jobs included managing editor of WCBS, the CBS-owned station in New York, and vice president of news at WNJU, the Telemundo station serving New York.

A native of Paterson, New Jersey, Balta is a graduate of Seton Hall University and Columbia Journalism School and a two‐time president of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists. He also was publisher and executive editor of CTLatinoNews.com in Connecticut and a talent development coach for Texas-based NWT Group.

“I’m excited and honored to be joining the venerated Chicago news community and an organization that embraces its mission to produce trusted, best-in-class content that inspires, educates and reflects diverse perspectives,” Balta said in a statement.

“I look forward to working with the talented team to place the responsibility of public media news in service of the community at the forefront of everything we do.”

On Facebook Monday he told friends: “‘Chicago Tonight’ is an award-winning news program, recognized for providing greater visibility to issues on politics, education, culture, and other pertinent topics to all audiences – inviting conversation and debate. I’m excited about the opportunity to build on its renowned journalism legacy.”