#MediaMonday – "Z"

Each Monday, we are posting a blog to help our readers get to know the media just a little bit better.
With a TWIST!
No, we aren’t posting story pitch tips or media lists, but instead great stories from the media themselves about their lives, their work and other little known facts! Think of it as your first “networking” opportunity of the week!
Today’s #MediaMonday comes to us from National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Silver Circle Member Gilbert “Z” Zermeño
So, Z, time to share!
What do you want to tell the blogosphere about yourself today?
In an industry where success depends on the spotlight, the photojournalist’s job is to avoid it. That said, I’d love to share a few thoughts on my profession as seen through my viewfinder.
I’m the youngest of five children. I’m a son of migrant farm workers, who finally settled down in the plains of West Texas. I grew up a farmer, rising before the sun to move sprinkler systems after they watered cotton all night. I would finish up my homework and ride the bus 17 miles to school. My parents were illegal all those years. Finally applying for and receiving work visas.
My dad became a citizen when he was in his 80’s, my Mom in her 70’s. Those years of hard labor and determination are what drive me.
When I was in the sixth grade, I attended a Career Day event at Lorenzo Elementary School in Texas. The main anchor from the ABC station in nearby Lubbock spoke to our class. He spoke highly of the work photojournalists did for his station. I was hooked! After graduation I attended West Texas State University, served an internship at KFDA in Amarillo, Texas, then moved over to KAMR-TV. Thanks to a new station accountant, I was fired from that station. It was the best thing that ever happened to me. With the help of Bill Austin, I ended up in Phoenix. He was a friend of our main anchor and made a few calls for me. I landed a phone interview with then KTSP-TV, now FOX10. They hired me, sent me $300. I loaded up my car with a TV, some clothes and moved to Arizona. It was 1986. Since then I’ve covered stories like Desert Storm in Saudi Arabia, former Arizona Gov. Evan Mecham when he traveled to Central America, the Los Angeles Riots, and traveled the Arizona backroads with Bill Leverton. I was also assigned to the helicopter and flew all over the state.
In 1994, a big market shake up landed the CBS affiliation at KPHO. I was hired here as a general assignment photographer. One year later, KPHO News started up an Investigative Unit. I became a producer/photographer for the Unit. In the 14 years of existence we’ve uncovered some great stories. From the Fife Symington financial fraud case, Joe Arpaio and Andrew Thomas abuse of power allegations and subsequent grand jury investigation to the current governor’s ties to the private prison industry and 1070. I am so proud to work for a station and alongside some great journalists. We’ve won a few Emmys and an Edward R. Murrow Award along the way.
I enjoy holding the powerful accountable for their actions. I love my job as a journalist for KPHO and as an adjunct professor for the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism. These are important days for journalists. We face increasing challenges in downsizing, reputation bashing and constant change in the way people consume news. I feel there is no better time than now to have great skills in researching, writing, shooting and editing great stories. Just like Bill Maddox said, the guys who have the best jobs are the photojournalist. How right he was.
When I look back at the 27 years in this business, I see my work has taken me from the U.S. to other countries, Texas to Arizona, and from one side of town to the other. Basically, to wherever the story takes me. Kind of like a high tech migrant worker.

Written by
at Oct 11, 2010

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