Kristina Puga, Web Producer at NBC Latino, is a graduate of Barnard College and The Columbia Graduate School of Journalism. Kristina is the product of an Ecuadorian father and a Russian mother. Raised in culturally diverse Queens, NY, she has been covering the Latino community for about a decade for publications such as the New York Daily News, AOL Latino, NYRemezcla.com, and Urban Latino. She loves to travel and experience different foods and cultures while discovering interesting characters along the way and telling their stories. After a long stay in Oaxaca, Mexico, she now considers it her second home. According to legend, she will be back since she ate chapulines there.
In 2012, Puga was named a Club Leader of the Future in Latino Leaders Magazine. At NBC Latino, Puga currently runs a segment called Latina Leaders every Monday, where she interviews inspiring Latinas in any field. Here’s one of her favorites: http://nbclatino.com/2013/04/08/latina-leaders-from-ceo-to-recording-artist-to-giving-back-to-soldiers/
About her role at NBC Latino, Puga says, “Talking with these women, as well as other outstanding everyday individuals every day, [has] really inspired me in my work and life. And I hope to do the same for others with my stories!”
It has been my pleasure to discover Puga recently on social media, and then to find ourselves connecting through the coverage of two recent CBT clients. I’m thrilled to share with you these words from one of our leading online journalists and a very special woman, Kristina Puga:
NB: How were you first introduced to a career in journalism?
KP: Journalism wasn’t even a thought in my mind until I was a senior in college. I was an anthropology major and writing my thesis, which involved interviewing the Mexican community in New York City. It was because of that experience that I realized I loved interviewing people and hearing their stories. As soon as I graduated, I literally walked into a small community paper’s office in Queens, called La Voz de Mexico, and asked if I could write for them. Luckily, they needed help with a staff of only two, and they hired me on the spot. That was my first journalism job, and it happened to be Spanish-language.
NB: Who were some of your early mentors in journalism and what did they do to help you along the way?
KP: My first mentor in journalism was the editor at La Voz de Mexico. Even though my Spanish wasn’t perfect, he gave [me] the opportunity to write as much as I wanted and had the patience to edit my not-so-good Spanish. I will always remember how he used to call me with a story idea in the mornings instead of “Bye,” he’d say, “Andale!” Really, all it takes is to have someone give you the opportunity to write and a platform.
NB: In your opinion, what are the most important values to have (as a person) to be a successful journalist?
KP: I think it’s crucial to be honest. You need to be able to tell the truth in your stories in order to be a successful journalist.
NB: In your opinion, what are the most important work ethics to have to be successful?
KP: Be on time, follow deadlines, do your research and listen carefully to what your interview subject is telling you. Not only will they be thankful, but their answer is not always predictable.
NB: How important is networking to career development in journalism and can you offer any tips in regard to professional networking?
KP: Networking is very important to your career as a journalist, because getting to know people from different fields will help you find sources for your stories, and networking with other journalists can also help you with sources as well as with finding jobs. Going to graduate school for journalism has been my best resource in terms of meeting other journalists who I am still in touch with. Also, joining associations like the National Association of Hispanic Journalists (NAHJ), which host local and national mixers, also help with networking.
NB: What specific advice can you give Latinas, and women in general who want to write and enter into the world of journalism?
KP: Write, write, write, and don’t stop. Even if it’s just a personal blog, it will show employers that you are serious about your love of reporting and writing and that you are not going to stop anytime soon. They want to hire people with that kind of dedication. They also know you love it, and if you love what you do, you’ll be successful working for them.
NB: Can you give us your opinion on the pros and cons of the explosion of online media channels in the last few years. Where do you see the future headed in regards to more opportunities vs declining journalistic standards?
KP: Sometimes I worry that the explosion of online media channels are causing a lot of recycled stories and not enough original reporting. I also notice shorter, not as serious and in-depth stories as before, but I’m hopeful in time it will all fall into place. The good thing is that there seems to be a site for everyone these days.
NB: What current project(s) are you really excited about?
KP: I’m really excited to write about the debate of genetically modified seeds (GM). The growth of companies such as Monsanto has caused riots worldwide, but I feel not a lot has been reported on the topic, especially for Latino media. I really look forward to covering more stories like this which will enlighten our community – covering the hidden stories and Latinos that don’t often make the mainstream media.
NB: What is the proudest moment of your career so far?
KP: Every time, I get an e-mail from someone thanking me for telling their story, I feel so proud and it makes my day. Every time, without fail, because it reminds me this is why I chose to be a journalist.
My deepest appreciation to Kristina Puga for taking time out of her busy schedule and important work to participate in this Q&A.
You can stay in touch with Kristina Puga on Twitter @KristinaPuga, or e-mail her at Kristina.Puga@nbcuni.com with story leads. You can also catch her at the Hispana Leadership Summit (Sep 12-14 2013 in Orlando, FL.) where she will be moderating the panel Courageous Leadership: Shared Qualities of Great Leaders.