Thursday, February 4, 2016

Gianna Toboni (LS ’08, CAS ’10) on being named one of Forbes’ 30 Under 30 in Media

Gianna Toboni (LS ’08, CAS ’10) talks about being named one of Forbes’ 30 Under 30 in Media and her work as a Producer and Correspondent on HBO’s Emmy-winning documentary show VICE

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What did you study at NYU? 


I studied Broadcast Journalism and Politics.
How did you become involved in reporting? 


The summer before my Sophomore year, I applied to work at ABC News as an intern. At that time, they didn't accept interns before Junior year, so I wasn't eligible. Despite them making that guideline very clear to me, I continued to politely bombard them with reasons why they should make an exception. After sending many unanswered emails and making phone calls, I finally received a note that I had been accepted into the program. In that moment, I understood the power of pestering. That persistence ended up going a long way once I started working for ABC News full-time.
You achieved what many would consider a dream job - producer of a #1 news show. Why did you leave?
Network news and the veterans who run it taught me the foundations of journalism that are invaluable to me now. I felt very fortunate to have the experiences I did, but at a point, I realized that I needed to move away from mainstream media in order to tell longer form stories that I felt needed coverage in a style more natural to me.
The tagline for the HBO show VICE is "We go there." Can you talk about the kinds of stories you have covered on the show and where they have taken you? 


We cover a wide range of stories on VICE. Earlier this month, I interviewed a former Guantanamo Bay detainee while losing to him badly in a game of Chess. A year ago we toured a prison in Iraq that holds over 400 ISIS prisoners, and we spoke to a couple of them about why they joined and what they were trying to achieve. We spent months last year looking into how American colleges are handling cases of sexual assault. We documented modern day tomb raiders in Egypt who had resorted to this pastime since the economy dipped post-Arab Spring. The list goes on!
What has been the most challenging or rewarding story you have ever covered? 


Several young women were brave enough to tell us how they were sexually assaulted on their college campuses and how their school didn't adequately handle their cases. These interviews were not easy for them and not ones I look forward to as an interviewer. In the end, I think we told a compelling story that gave otherwise ignored survivors a voice to call for change.
Being named to Forbes' 30 Under 30 list is a huge honor. What advice would you give to an NYU student today about how you have been able to accomplish so much before 30? 


While the Forbes' list seems like an individual award, it's a team award. My advice would be to not think about awards like this. Focus on collaborating well with those around you, working your butt off even in the most menial entry-level jobs and trying not to lose sight of what you're after.
To find out more about Gianna's projects follow her on Twitter @GiannaToboni.
VICE, HBO's Emmy-winning documentary show, airs on Friday nights at 11:00 PM ET/PT.

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