Interview with Former CNN Anchorman Daniel Viotto

Photo credit - CNN
Photo credit – CNN

Sir Anthony Hopkins.  Denzel Washington.  Tom Cruise.  Will Smith.  These are top billing Hollywood actors that we love to watch on-screen either for their raw talent or sex appeal; or a little bit of both.  Being on television or on the big screen is not reserved for top billing actors; however.  There are some television personalities that are not traditional actors as we know it but still have a certain level of prestige for their career in television.

One such person is former CNN Espanol anchor Daniel Viotto.  Although Daniel is now retired from CNN, he is still in the reporting business.  He currently works as the digital content manager for a local Hispanic newspaper called Mundo Hispanico which is a subsidiary of the Atlanta Journal Constitution.  This week, Daniel will tell Reel Focus what it was like to be an anchorman for one of the most powerful international news shows in the world; and, what life is like after CNN.

 

Daniel thank you for joining us this week. A lot of Reel Focus readers are in film or television or are aspiring to be in film or television. Being a television anchor is a very important part of the television experience; therefore, tell our readers how you became an anchor for television.

 

If I were to say that becoming a TV anchor was destiny I would be lying. I would also be lying if I were to say that I was a born journalist. I will say that I have always been curious and concerned about communication among people and across cultures and languages.  I was motivated to become a journalist in order to explore human behavior, communication and emotions in depth. It is my personal belief that most of the amazing accomplishments and even the tragic events we have experienced have to do in one way or another with human communication [or miscommunication].  However, when we are able to communicate effectively with one another something amazing always happens–solidarity, space travel, peace, new discoveries, environmental protection, and justice are all possible when we communicate to share common human values instead of labeling groups of people as “this or that.”  These are some of the reasons that I became a journalist and decided not to pursue a career in architecture – although one day I still may [pursue an architecture degree].

After graduating from college in Mendoza, Argentina I worked for few years in radio and television.  However, I wanted more.  I wanted to travel to other countries and see beyond my immediate surroundings with my own eyes. I landed at LAX airport in Los Angeles in March 1991 and was greeted with a simple, spontaneous ceremony in which myself and my luggage were welcomed by a good friend who allowed me to stay in his house. This friend then put me in contact with people that eventually became good friends. In hindsight, I am deeply appreciative to all of them. I was a stranger and they opened their homes to me when I needed it the most. They are extraordinary, unforgettable people.

Soon after, I become a permanent resident by a program called Lottery of visas. I was lucky enough to win one of thousands of resident visas. A year later, I was an intern and then freelancer with Univision 34. A year after that, I signed my first contract with Telemundo 52 and worked under the remarkable and successful news director, Sandra Thomas, who believed in me and allowed me to join her team of field reporters.  Two years later, I was hired by CNN when they were launching CNN in Spanish for all Latin America viewers. I worked for CNN for 14 years until I decided to take a break from news and explore other options.

What was it like working for CNN?

 

Working for CNN was like being in the school of real life for me. It opened my eyes to a very complex and dynamic world.  I learned a great deal and became interconnected to human events and occurrences. While working as a news anchor, I also realized that not only politicians and world leaders have to fix the problems of the world; journalists too, can make a difference but we have a lot of work ahead of us to do.  I was part of an organization that proved over and over again its leadership in journalism. CNN continues to embrace high standards in journalism and CNN en Espanol keeps bringing people together all over the continent. I’m pretty sure I didn’t learn everything during my time at CNN and there is a lot more to come, but let me tell you, it was a great learning experience and such a journey to share.

How important is what you do as a journalist?

 

I became an anchor at a time when social media was conceived. At first it was entertaining and kind of senseless–yes senseless– that is until the platforms became the massive media phenomenon they are today. As social media grew, narcissism also grew, using these platforms to expose absolutely nothing but out of control ambition and a constant craving for reaffirmation by audiences. While we can use less of the narcissism, I am convinced that the world does need more leaders and less followers but journalists need to be involved in this process because at the end of the day we play a key role in communicating the people’s needs. The day journalism no longer delivers people’s message it will become obsolete.

What’s life like for you after CNN?

 

Life’s fantastic but boring in so many ways. I tasted freedom by leaving and becoming an entrepreneur. I took a much-needed break from listening to my producer in my ear every day or explaining to the news director why I said what I said the day before that made some people so angry.

I left anchoring and became part of the audience–a listener, a reader, a news consumer. For the first time, I was away from the energy of a newsroom. I was no longer addicted to the camera and I no longer had to pretend to know everything.

Working for CNN was exiting, challenging, fun and sometimes dangerous, but after being away for 5 years, in retrospect, it looks even more fascinating. I do miss it, though.

8/11/2008 Atlanta, Ga. Names: Daniel Viotto Anchor, CNN en Espanol Photo: Mark Hill/CNN en Espanol

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Follow Women in Film and Television Atlanta on Twitter @wiftAtlanta

 

 


Women in Television: News Anchor Richelle Carey

PHENOMENAL WOMEN MAKING A DIFFERENCE
AL JAZEERA AMERICA'S RICHELLE CAREY
AL JAZEERA AMERICA’S RICHELLE CAREY

Written by Melisha “Mel” Childs, Senior Blog Contributor

I remember flipping through cable network channels some time ago and I came across a station called Al Jazeera.  I remember thinking to myself that “a station like this seems to be bridging the gap between Western and Eastern World relations.”  My curiosity led me to find out more about this network and share it with our Reel Focus readers.  On this blog, I have teamed up with Richelle Carey, News Anchor at Al Jazeera America, who will give us insight into this new television station that launched in 2013. 

[Transcript]

MC:  Richelle, Reel Focus thanks you for taking the opportunity to chat with our readers in this blog interview.  First of all, for those who are not aware of what Al Jazeera news is, tell them more about this station and what types of news programs are most popular for this station?

RC:  Thank you for inviting me to participate.  Well, Al Jazeera is an international news network that launched Al Jazeera America a little over a year ago. It was on honor on August 20th 2013 to co-host the first program seen on our air at 3pm ET that day, along with my colleague Antonio Mora. Al Jazeera America offers a variety of programming, including newscasts, documentaries, and news magazine shows. What they all have in common is a seriousness of purpose. There is no fluff. That’s not to say the content is boring – far from it. It is engaging, but it is not entertainment. Viewers deserve better. I’m not the ratings person, I focus on my job. I can say that the bosses tell me the weekend newscasts do well and I’m proud to be part of that team.

MC:  The show title is obviously Arabic.  Explain to readers why is it important to have such a show tying American news to Middle Eastern news?

RC:  Al Jazeera is an intimidating name to some because they don’t know what it means. So, let’s get that out of the way, first. It simply means “the peninsula” or “the island.” Now, it’s never a bad thing to have more voices in news. Because Al Jazeera is such a diverse, global company we have resources in parts of the world, other networks don’t. And even in places where all networks have resources, Al Jazeera America will look for those voices you won’t hear on other networks. So, for example, while all networks will cover what happens in the Middle East, on AJAM you will hear a variety of perspectives from those whose lives are actually affected, perspectives that you likely won’t hear on other networks. 

MC:  Women in Film and Television’s focus is, of course, women in film and television.  Richelle, share with our readers who are interested in anchoring for television why this station could be a good option for advancing their career.

RC:  It starts at the top. Al Jazeera America has several women in strong leadership roles. Our president, Kate O’Brian, and several VPs are women.  Also, one of the company’s first hires was Kim Bondy, the senior executive producer on our flagship show “America Tonight.” Kim is a trailblazer in this business. Seeing the senior leadership of the company take shape said to me…my voice will matter here. I hope it says the same to other women.

MC: Finally, how does Al Jazeera plan to strengthen and encourage viewership in the future, especially among women and young viewers?

RC:  That only comes by doing the work. That’s not empty marketing campaigns with nothing of substance behind them. That’s not pandering to viewers you don’t actually care about or try to understand. At Al Jazeera America, we put voices on TV you don’t see on other networks. Often, that’s women, people of color, and young people who don’t have fancy publicists getting them booked on cable TV all day, but have something dynamic to say.  Those voices, we believe, will bring in viewers. It won’t happen overnight, and ratings are what drives us, but it will happen.

 


About Richelle Carey

Richelle Carey is an anchor at Al Jazeera America, the new U.S. cable news channel available in Atlanta on Comcast Channel 107, AT&T Channel 1219, DirecTV Channel 347 and Dish Channel 215.  Prior to joining Al Jazeera America, Carey spent seven years as an anchor and correspondent for CNN in Atlanta. 

Prior to CNN, Carey was a weekday morning anchor for KMOV-TV in St. Louis and KVVU-TV in Las Vegas.

Carey is a strong advocate for girls and women and serves as vice president of the board of directors at Men Stopping Violence, an organization whose mission is to end violence against women and girls. She is also a former board member of the Girl Scouts of Greater Atlanta, one of the largest councils in the nation.

Carey attended both Smith College in Massachusetts and Baylor University in Texas. Her many journalism awards include an Emmy for consumer features reporting while in St. Louis and the “Emerging Journalist” award from the Houston Association of Black Journalists. 

Find her on Twitter at https://twitter.com/RichelleCarey and learn more about Al Jazeera America at http://america.aljazeera.com/

Photo courtesy of Richelle Carey.