New Yorkers in Profile

Interviewing the Interviewer

November 28, 2011 Written by | 2 Comments

Looking every bit the part of a television reporter, with glossy black hair cascading down her shoulders, brown eyes that exude intensity, Liz Gonzalez looks directly at the interviewer, cocking her head to one side, taking in every word.

It was this focus that has helped Gonzalez reach to her current position today as an Emmy award winning reporter for Telemundo.

Listening is the most effective way to interview, however getting people to open up is a quality that every good journalist must possess. Gonzalez has that quality of putting people at ease and lending an empathetic ear. At the same time there is also a tough, no nonsense attitude looming under that exterior.

When questioned as to how she got to where she is today, “You have to really want it, and really go after it.”

Gonzalez did not always know she wanted to be a journalist. When she first entered Florida International University (FIU) as a freshman, like many college students, she was not clear as to what her major might be.

FIU had a broadcasting/journalism department. Gonzalez decided to take a class in journalism, simply to see how she liked it. That one class would be the beginning of a career.

She pursued it with a relentless determination. During her college years any opportunity in the journalism field that came her way, she ran with it, whatever it might be. Be it an internship for a local radio station or working for the Associated Press on election night, gathering election results.

By the time Gonzalez was ready to graduate college, she had two full time job offers waiting. One of those full time offers was to write for the Miami Herald, even though at the time doing print was more money, she opted to work for Visnews, an international news agency.

She said it was very easy for individuals to get caught up in the desire to make money, instead of focusing on long term goals. “Don’t let yourself get sidetracked,” said Gonzalez “I didn’t want to be a print reporter, I wanted to do television. I would have done myself a disservice had I steered myself away from what I really wanted to do.”

Gonzalez was assignment editor for Visnews, eventually finding herself traveling all over Latin America for three years.

This is where knowing three languages would become instrumental in her success. Gonzalez was fluent in Spanish, Portuguese and French. “Speaking another language, got me where I am today,” said Gonzalez. She had known Spanish due to her family being of Spaniard descent had taken French in high school and took a course in Portuguese in college.

As assignment editor, her job was to tell people what to cover and where to go. However, she came to realize that she wanted to be more hands on, gather the news as opposed to telling people what to cover. This ultimately led to Gonzalez moving to Peru, where she would be a foreign correspondent for national Telemundo.

Eventually, she found herself back in New York. Within three weeks of returning to the states, Gonzalez was working for CBS in English and would later do freelancing for CNN in Spanish. She ultimately landed her present position, that of reporter for Telemundo.

For four years, Gonzalez covered the education beat. Education is important in the Hispanic community especially amongst immigrant parents who might not know the ins and outs of the American system.

Paula Wu, of Peruvian descent and a long time viewer of Gonzalez, said “Gonzalez plays an important role in the Spanish community.” Wu cited that when Gonzalez was an educational reporter, she found her segments to be helpful to her own family.

Now Gonzalez covers everything from the economy to politics to murders. “To wake up in the morning and not know where I’m going to be that day, or what I’m going to be doing that day, I enjoy that.” As such she can be anywhere from Queens on one day to New Jersey the next. She goes anywhere in the metropolitan area, where the story is.

Despite much of the career success Gonzalez has attained, it did not always come easy. “The first time I did a demo tape and sent it to the managing editor at Telemundo, he crucified me. He said it was horrible, too long and you’re not authoritative enough…I wasn’t crushed, not entirely.” Applying herself to make sure the next demo tape was going to impress. Sure enough, it did.

Nick Lourenco, Gonzalez’s cameraman, said tenacity is the quality that has made Gonzalez successful. Lourenco said that Gonzalez is very organized and knows how to draw people out of their shell for interviews.

Working for Telemundo has produced some very rewarding experiences for Gonzalez. One story that Gonzalez covered was a child, being denied education because he was undocumented. In the end, she walked the young boy straight in to his classroom. She tells this story with pride.

Many people in the Hispanic community come up to Gonzalez and say, “I’m so happy I met you, because I need your help.” Gonzalez prides herself on developing a lot of trust in the Hispanic population. The trust and respect Gonzalez has earned is not only in the Hispanic community, it’s also in the mainstream news community as well.

In 2010 Gonzalez took home her first Emmy for her coverage of Captain Sully and Miracle on the Hudson.  The Emmy sits proudly on the mantle in her living room.

When asked if Gonzalez ever had regrets about a decision relating to her career, a simple to the point “No,” is the answer. “If your true to yourself, and make the right decisions for yourself, you will not have any regrets.”

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