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

 

 


Producer Sharon Martin Shares Her ‘Overnight’ Success Story

Producer Sharon Martin Talks About Hit Series Snapped on Oxygen

 

Aspiring film and television professionals tend to believe that their success in the industry will be quick and easy.  This false belief often comes from only seeing successful celebrities when they have reached an apex in their careers.  Success in film and television is anything but quick and easy.  Sharon Martin, executive producer for one of the most popular shows on Oxygen – Snapped – knows all too well that success in television is not an overnight fantasy.  Before becoming the narrator for one of the most top-rated crime shows on cable, she experienced the highs and the lows of what it takes to succeed in this industry.

This week, she shares with Reel Focus readers her journey to being an ‘overnight’ success and even shares a few tips on how you too can succeed in this vacillating world.

Sharon, I want to sincerely thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to share your story with Reel Focus readers.  It is an honor to have you on our blog. For those who are not familiar with who you are because we rarely see you, tell us what you do in the world of television.

Right now, I do two jobs: I’m the narrator for Oxygen’s Snapped series and I’m also the show’s co-executive producer. So viewers hear my voice, but the bulk of my workday is getting the episodes put together in post-production and getting them delivered to the network on schedule. I also spend part of my time doing viewer outreach for the series on social media.

 

Before becoming the Queen of Crime TV, tell us about your past experiences in television.

I’ve been with Snapped for more than a decade, but I’ve had quite a few other jobs in television.  I started as a local news reporter.  I spent several years at CNN as a news writer.  Eventually, I moved into program production and even did a few years as a promo producer at lifestyle network. I’ve made it through layoffs and network rebrands and the skill that keeps me going is storytelling. Whether I’m working on a live news hour, promos or a true-crime series, the common thread is the ability to put a story together that engages. The product may change but those producing skills transfer.

 

Would you say that you have found your niche in the world of television or is this just the tip of the iceberg in terms of what you plan to do in the future.

The answer is both, hopefully.  I’ve found my niche for now. Snapped is a perfect fit for my skills and voice.  But there’s one constant when working in television, and that’s change. When I started as a local news reporter, I never would have imagined I would be the narrator and producer of a long-running true-crime cable series.  When Snapped started, we never expected it to run into 20+ seasons.  So, I do hope this is the tip of the iceberg, and I’m excited to see where the next 10 years takes me.

 

Finally, share your advice with our readers on 1) how to break into the industry and 2) how to remain successful.

Everyone is making content everywhere right now, whether it’s for broadcast, cable or streaming media.  If you are just getting started, find a local production company and take an entry-level position. Work your way through a few projects and learn a few things about every aspect of production.  Then work hard, be flexible and build trust with the people around you. If they trust you on one project, they’ll remember you for the next one. Build your skills with each new opportunity and pay attention to the ever-changing media landscape.

When I started narrating, there was no Twitter, but now interacting with fans is part of my job.  And honestly, a big part of it is simply timing and luck.  I never intended to be a narrator, but I was working as a producer on Snapped.  Because I had radio and local news experience, I did the scratch voiceover, the temporary audio and one day they needed a new narrator.  It’s an exciting time to be in the business because there are so many paths to success and there are new opportunities every day.