OK, let me get back into the modern world and stop falling into the old man’s daydream. Today, the news is coming at us from everywhere. But, they still come in three forms for now. We either watch, listen, or read the news, and that’s it.
I have spent most of my career in radio because I love the medium’s intimacy. Still, I will never say that one is better than another because I consume news in all forms. Video is necessary. That’s why I wanted to talk to someone who knows how to tell a story on television. Let me introduce you to Sandra Gonzalez.
What was it about television that was a draw for you?
Sandra Gonzalez: I think it’s just the power of the images. I miss being a radio journalist and being able to draw a picture in people’s minds. I could describe the defendant walking into the courtroom wearing his orange prison jumpsuit, walking slowly in shackles. You can describe the beautiful sunset coming up over the city landscape. You can hear the birds chirping. Television has a very important place in journalism. I think the written word, the television images and radio and podcasting are all hugely important. But I wanted to tell those stories, and while you can hear someone’s tears, you can hear someone’s anger when you’re listening to the radio in your car. There’s also something about the silence, the pauses for seeing the teardrop coming down the face just a different medium that I really wanted to explore.
How do people respond to you when you’re out in the field, and maybe you’re wearing your press badge? How do people respond to you and how do you handle that?
Sandra Gonzalez: Think about it. They’re on their worst day or their best day. They don’t know us. They don’t think of us as humans. And there’s a lot of anger. Like after a murder or something in a neighborhood, I used to cover a lot of crime, especially in New Orleans. That anger has to be directed. And you come over there and you disrupt the environment just by your presence. You come in, you’re dressed nicely; you’re carrying all this electronic equipment. You can put yourself in some precarious situations, and then all of a sudden, the family who just lost a loved one is all of a sudden really mad at you. In the last decade, we’ve become some sort of a scapegoat for something. It’s the media’s fault. And then because they probably have never met anybody who works in the communications industry of any sort, all of a sudden it’s your fault. Other times you’re like treated like royalty. They’re so happy that you’re there to tell the story and they roll out the red carpet and make a big deal about it and they’ll say, I just love you so much from your reports. Can I get your autograph and you’re happy to do it for a nine-year-old girl who’s got dark hair and brown skin. You got to have thick skin and a compassionate heart; this is hard work. It’s hard mentally and emotionally, because you become like this cup, right, and they pour all their pain or celebration or concern, they’re pouring it all into you. And no one even addressed that until, like maybe the last decade that, you know, maybe we need to have to deal with some of this stuff.
What could we be doing better as journalists to help people understand who we are and what we do? Is there something we’re not doing right in getting the message across?
Sandra Gonzalez: A couple of things come to mind. First of all, we need to diversify our newsrooms. We need to be bringing in a different, more rich culture of people with different perspectives. To tell stories that need to be told, we can’t be telling the same old, same old, we can’t be reaching the same experts. We need to do a better job of that. There are a lot of things going on in the world that is never covered with a lot of invisible communities that we need to make visible. We as journalists, we as decision-makers, as newsroom leaders need to start showing other perspectives. Things are not black and white or always two-sided. Start showing things in shades of gray. There may not be a solution. We need to let people know we’re so hugely important. Think about this, how did we find out about some of the most historic events in the world (in modern times)? Because of journalists. How do we know that a hurricane is coming? Did we find that on a blog? No. A news media company was on top of it with extremely credible journalists and meteorologists. Newsrooms are crucial during crises. How do we find out about missing children? We’re there for them during elections. Where do they turn to get election results? Who’s going to be in the courtrooms? Are they going to spend hours doing it? No, they depend on us. We’re vital. We’re a vital, thriving industry, and with all the things going on in the world and with all this technology.
Are we doing a better job being diverse? Have we gotten better? I’d like to think we’re making strides somehow, right or not?
Sandra Gonzalez: I see it. We could do a better job. What I’d like to see is a different change and more changes at the managerial level. We have a lot of boots on the ground. We have a lot of diverse people on the front lines doing hardcore journalism. Good leaders don’t even need a title. If you’re a go-to person, you’re a leader. So I hope we see some of those changes, and I’m always pushing to bring in fresh blood, newer generations because there’s so much going on in the world and there’s so much corruption and there’s so much being not told to us that we need some good journalists. We really do. We got to bring them in and we got to keep them. They’re losing hope and getting out of the industry within five years. They’re not lasting as long as we need them.
This is a production from City of Dreamz Media Inc.