Mario Gonzalez won a New York Emmy in 2014 for his work at Newsday, where he is a freelance photographer/videographer. Gonzalez, also an associate professor of journalism, media studies and public relations in the Lawrence Herbert School of Communications at Hofstra, was nominated for three New York Emmys this year for his work.
“I’ve been working at Newsday since 2005, and I’ve been freelancing since I’ve been working here at Hofstra for the past four years,” Gonzalez said. “[My] official title is a freelance photographer/videographer. I was a full-time editor there [Newsday] and photographer, but now on a freelance basis I’m mostly a photographer/videographer.”
Gonzalez’s passion for journalism traces back to his days as an eighth grader in East Islip. “I remember our eighth grade class, it was just as a random special topics class, that was TV production,” he said. “There was like a legit mini TV studio in our junior high school.”
“I remember that class and I remember I was like, ‘Wow this is really cool’ and I was fascinated by the cameras and the switchboard and the process of putting together a show, and I really liked that,” Gonzalez continued.
Throughout his career Gonzalez has successfully combined his love for journalism with another passion of his, sports. He recalled that this TV production class was his first outlet for that combination. “That was my first experience with the actual working of the equipment, so it just kind of worked out where those two loves of sports and TV production came together,” he said.
At the start of Gonzalez’s career, videography and multimedia was nowhere on the horizon. “I would love to say I’ve always had a strong love of videography coming out of school, but just like a lot of students I just didn’t know what I wanted to do. I knew I had a love of sports. I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do with that, but I did have a strong passion for television,” Gonzalez said.
“In terms of multimedia and photography and videography, I didn’t really jump into that until probably about eight or nine years into my career,” Gonzalez said. “My career at the start was very heavy on TV production, TV producing, TV broadcast writing, TV editing, and then just through the way life goes, you find yourself in new positions you didn’t realize you’d be in.”
One piece stands out to Gonzalez throughout his successful career. This was his work as an editor working on a piece about Superstorm Sandy.
“Why I always think about that is because it was unique,” Gonzalez said. “As reporters you’re never part of the story and that situation was really ironic and weird because we were going through the horrors of that storm with the people that we were interviewing.”
“It was just weird that we were going out, working on this story, yet we were being affected by [the story] and that was a really unique situation,” Gonzalez said. “Gas stations were running out of gasoline so there were legit hour, two-hour long lines to get gasoline, it was really bizarre. I remember that during this time not only were we going through, but we had to find people that were willing to speak to us, but we had to get to work. We had a carpool with coworkers to get to work because they were advising you to save gas to carpool with anyone who worked near you.”
This piece tested Gonzalez’s skills as a journalist and editor. “As an editor, I felt a tremendous amount of pressure to make that piece not only really good, but to send a message and to tell the story of Long Island and how people were really being affected by it,” Gonzalez said.
“The reason why I think that is my favorite piece is because I was really happy with the way it came out. We got nominated for a bunch of awards for that piece,” he continued. “But I think it was the piece where … I’d never felt that pressure before.”
As an editor, Gonzalez had the vital duty of sifting through all the footage handed to him for this project. “I was literally getting footage from every photographer on staff and freelancers … and having to look through everything that they shot and trying to put that together,” he said.
Not only did Gonzalez feel pressure from putting together the project and telling a great story, he also had the weight of the deadline on his shoulders. “The pressure part was not only to make it turn out good but my boss wanted it by a certain day. Because it wasn’t as impactful if it was three weeks after the storm,” Gonzalez said. “Long story short, we were able to get it together in a week. I remember I was totally fried.”