Tuesday, December 1, 2015

The Road to Becoming a Broadcast Journalist: Sandra Endo, CAS ‘99

Read our interview with alumna and broadcast journalist Sandra Endo (CAS ’99).
1. What was your NYU experience as a whole?
What attracted me to NYU was everything that it had to offer. I had the best of so many different worlds. I was accepted to the Presidential Honors Scholar program. I was on the swim team, and I was in Journalism and Politics. I got a little bit of everything at NYU. I really loved my experience there. The fact that I was right in the city meant that I had everything at my fingertips.

Coming from Los Angeles to New York was such a big step for me and my family. And I was a little homesick at first, it took a little adjusting but I ended up loving it and thriving with all of the energy around me. The breadth of opportunities was more than I could have imagined.
Mike Ludlum in the Journalism Department was like a rock to all the Journalism students. And he really had an interest in all of us succeeding, and helping us cultivate our strengths.
2. Did you always know that you wanted to be a reporter?
I knew going to New York that I wanted to study journalism. And what made NYU really attractive to me, as I was considering other schools as well, with me being from LA, being the second media market, I wanted to see what the number one media market was like.
I double majored in Politics and Journalism, because I wanted to learn practical skills: how to write for television, how to put together a newscast, all those technical, practical skills that you need as a journalist. But I also wanted to be an expert at something, so that’s why I majored in Politics as well. I figured, if I want to be a voice for the people or question authority, I needed to know what makes our government tick and how it works. I knew right from the beginning that I wanted to get hands-on experience as a journalist, so I interned at WNBC, ABC News and NY1.
I also minored in East Asian studies, as a Japanese language minor. I think growing up in a Japanese-American family, I am a second and a half generation Japanese-American, you always worry that you are going to lose part of yourself, but I feel like NYU really helped me keep a part of who I am and where I came from.
3. What has been the most challenging story that you have covered?
I would say that the most challenging but also the most rewarding was 9/11. At least a piece of my heart will always be in New York because I started there and I covered the biggest story of my life there. I was a junior political reporter at NY1 at the time and I was scheduled to cover the city comptrollers’ candidates for an election primary. I remember running to work because everyone was scared of going on the subway and there were no cabs. I ran to work, not knowing if we were going to cover an election still, and then, of course the world totally changed.
That was the biggest challenge – covering such a tragedy in a city I loved. Seeing all of the men and women of the Fire Department responding, seeing a lot of faces of defeat, but then being able to cover the stories of triumph after. That experience shaped me and will always be a part of me. I saw the best of people that day and, following that day, the strength in people, the compassion and the heroism. That story has shaped my career too.
4. How long were you with NY1 before you transitioned to CNN?
I was with them a total of seven years. I worked my way up. I did every job in the newsroom, from overnights, to shooting video, to editing, writing, producing, and then finally I got a shot reporting. I would report on the weekends, then do another job during the week, then I became a full-time reporter. Then from the reporting ranks, I moved up progressively, until I was able to co-host “Inside City Hall” (NY1’s daily, hour-long political show). And that’s what I was doing before I got a call from CNN. I remember it was in the end of 2007. I ran the NYC Marathon and remember passing by the Time Warner Center in Columbus Circle and thinking, “That’s where CNN is, maybe one day….” and then they called me the next day.
5. What was it like working for CNN?
I worked at CNN for five years, and I learned so much during my time. I lived in DC for five years, but I can tell you, I hardly know it as a city because I was living out of a suitcase. I traveled so much as a reporter. I went to nearly every natural disaster that hit the U.S. I covered hurricanes and tornados, a wide variety of news, including a lot of politics. I loved learning about our country – visiting little towns that I wouldn’t have been able to go to otherwise and meeting the people there. And I’ve seen those towns during some of the worst moments in their history. I remember covering the miners that were trapped in West Virginia. I learned a lot about people, and I saw a lot of strength in those communities too.
6. How did you decide to relocate to your hometown of Los Angeles?
I made the conscious decision to not live out of a suitcase forever. I loved it, and I am so grateful for the opportunity. But after five years with CNN, I realized that I wanted to find a balance in my own life. I needed to live in a city I know, and I wanted to go back home. If I wanted to have a family one day, I wanted to have the support of my family. I am a reporter at Fox 11 now in Los Angeles. And I have a one-year-old.
7. After working in broadcast journalism since you graduated in 1999, what are your observations of the industry?
I think journalism is changing. A lot of social media and online outlets are taking over what we think of as traditional news outlets. Where people are getting their news is changing. And, with that, reporters’ jobs are changing too. There’s a lot more emphasis on social media, on connecting with viewers and leaders. It’s also very personality-based and I think being at a place like Fox 11, you get to be yourself a little more. And it’s great to connect with the community you live in.
8. What advice would you give to aspiring journalists?
• Read everything you can
• Absorb
• Write
• Try new things
• Be interested in your community
• Stay up on technology
• Put your gadget down and take in your surroundings
• Don't be afraid to change course – there is no one path
• Ask for what you want then....
• Work your butt off!
To find out more about Sandra, follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram at @sandraendotv.

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