#MediaMonday – Pablo Gorondi

Today’s #MediaMonday comes to us from Central Europe, where Pablo Gorondi is managing editor for the Budapest, Hungary, bureau of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL.)  He was a panelist at the recent Public Relations Global Network meetings in which he talked about the media landscape and threats to press freedom in that part of the world.

Pablo, first of all, please tell us about Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty:

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty is an international news organization headquartered in Prague, Czech Republic, and Washington, D.C., with 21 bureaus throughout Russia, Central Asia, Afghanistan, and Central and Eastern Europe. Reporting in 27 languages across 23 countries, RFE/RL is one of the most comprehensive news operations in the world, providing responsibly reported, fact-based news in countries where media freedoms are under threat or banned outright. From Iran and Pakistan to Hungary, Ukraine, and Azerbaijan, RFE/RL our journalists give audiences what they can’t always get from their own local media: uncensored information and open debate. Reporting via digital, TV, and radio platforms, RFE/RL has a measured weekly reach of 38.1 million people. We are a private non-profit funded by the U.S. Congress through the U.S. Agency for Global Media. RFE/RL’s editorial independence is protected by U.S. law.

How did you get your start in the media?

I was a paperboy for the Home News (New Brunswick, N.J.), making deliveries after school to students living in on-campus housing at Rutgers University. Does that count? My first love was radio and, starting in 1987, I had several shows on pirate radio stations in the Buenos Aires suburbs. The airwaves were under tight control during the 1976-1983 military dictatorship but independent (or community) stations began broadcasting after the return to democracy. Within a few years, many of them obtained licenses and became an important part of the media landscape. Some of my other early milestones came at Rock & Pop, a top FM station; the Buenos Aires Herald, an English-language daily; and La Nación, a Spanish-language daily.

We’d like to learn a little more about you….You grew up in Buenos Aires and New Jersey and are now based in Budapest. When you aren’t working, what do you do in your spare time?

It’s a cliché, but I love reading and listening to music. If the internet ever suffers a catastrophic failure, there are enough books and records/CDs at home to entertain for our family (my wife and I have three daughters) and friends for decades.
I’m also very interested in media ethics and the role of journalism in society. I was also active in Scouting for 20 years.

What is your story?

I met a Hungarian student in Buenos Aires and a few years later I found myself on my way to Budapest, arriving 50 years after my grandparents left Hungary in the wake of World War II. I got my start here at an English-language weekly and began working at U.S. newswires a few weeks before our wedding in 1997. Before coming over to Radio Free Europe’s Budapest bureau when it reopened in 2020, my longest stint was as the Hungary correspondent for the Associated Press, starting in 2001. I wrote about everything from Hungarian politics, Formula One races and global oil prices to  Lionel Messi’s debut with Argentina (which happened in Budapest in 2005), the serial killings of Hungarian Roma, the 2015 refugee crisis, hundreds of record reviews, and Imre Kertesz, the first Hungarian to win the Nobel Prize in Literature.

Gorondi’s music collection

Favorite type of music:

I’ve lived in three distinct cultures, which is reflected in my musical tastes: Argentine rock, tango and folk; Hungarian rock and folk; jazz (vocalists, pianists, guitarists and Miles Davis), and hundreds of American, British and international acts from the Beatles and Caetano Veloso to Franco Battiato and XTC. If my wife ever had any doubts about my commitment to staying in Hungary, I’m sure they eased after my parents shipped over my record collection from Buenos Aires. Now, it would need a bigger boat.

Favorite colors: Blue and green.

Some of my favorite sayings:
Sooner or later, no good deed goes unrewarded.
Democracy is too important to be left only to politicians.
Better times will come.

Least favorite food: Pizza with sweet corn, a „specialty” in Hungary and some other countries in the region.

Three things readers would be surprised to know about you:

I was an All-Star first baseman in Little League and won medals in the hammer throw and the shot put in high school. My regular tasks when my daughters were growing up included evening baths, bedtime stories and lullabies. Now, they like it much better when I don’t sing. I didn’t know I was partially color blind until my first driving test – my Mom said she’d known ever since the first tree I drew had a green trunk and brown leaves.

How can we reach you: gorondi@gmail.com.

Photo by Gábor Lakos

Written by
at May 22, 2023

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