I have had the great fortune to be a working journalist now for more than 25 years. I began my career as a print writer for a newspaper, then at a magazine, before getting into television. Today I am also a teacher sharing my experiences and my modest expertise with the next generation of working journalists. Across all my experiences, both professional and personal, one element is a constant – without taking risk there is little opportunity for reward.
I grew up in a rural part of Virginia along the Blue Ridge Mountains. My parents are both immigrants and their own storylines have certainly influenced me and my perceptions. I learned early that being different was good but also not something to dwell on. However, their perseverance and drive certainly expanded my horizons and I enjoy trying new things and experiencing different cultures.
Professionally I have worked in both English and Spanish. I spent the early 1990s in Spain, learning the language, pursuing a graduate degree and working for a Spanish-language newspaper and magazine. Returning to the United States, I continued working in Spanish until 1997 when I began my American television career as a reporter in Macon, Georgia. That was followed by a stint in Richmond, Virginia and eventually a move to San Francisco, California. In 2011, I had the opportunity to again try something new and that brought me to Syracuse University where I now teach broadcast journalism. Each step has given me the chance to view news and the newsgathering process in different ways. I never had a “beat” and I think that role allowed me to embrace the unpredictability of the day. You never know where a story might take you or who you may meet. One day you could be interviewing the governor on a major state issue, the next a grieving parent or the next a spelling bee whiz kid. Now I try to share that approach with my students as they face an ever-changing news environment.
But life isn’t just about work. Along the way I have had so many interesting adventures. Travel has been a lifelong interest. I have travelled (so far) to 28 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico as well as 22 countries, which leaves only 173 more. Good challenge. Fortunately my wife enjoys traveling as much, if not more, than I do. I recommend travel as a way to not only have fun but also as a way to discover what you don’t know, be it history, customs, geography, politics or different perspectives on personal space.
My greatest physical challenge was swimming in the San Francisco Bay. I grew up swimming along with my siblings, but generally in a pool. In college I played water polo, also in a pool. Open-water swimming in 50-degree water was and is equally daunting and liberating. Swimming around Alcatraz and under the Golden Gate Bridge were certainly two of the biggest benchmarks. A pool just can’t compare.
There’s much more to come; more places to see, more customs to learn, more challenges to overcome. I hope to share them with you here.