CPOY Coordinator Yanran Huang interviewed Lynda Gonzalez of the University of Texas, who won gold last year in the Spot News category for her image, "Fourth of July Shooting."
Friends and family members of Devonte Ortiz gather on Friday, July 6, 2018, at Pleasant Hills Apartments in Austin, Texas. Witnesses say Ortiz's neighbor Jason Roche fatally shot 19-year-old Ortiz in the early hours of July 4 in a dispute about fireworks.
Yanran Huang: What’s the most difficult thing while covering spot news? How do you deal with it?
Lynda Gonzalez: In general, I think the most difficult thing about covering spot news is just not knowing what’s going to happen. And I think also managing a lot of adrenaline, well, also trying to kind of managing a lot of emotions to what’s just happening. Sometimes the setting is very sad and you've got a lot of adrenaline rushing through your body but also... I'm a really empathetic person. You can get filled with grief really quickly if you're covering a funeral or if you're covering something where someone died. So I think the most difficult thing about covering spot news is just managing a lot of physical responses to what you're photographing as well as emotional responses.
I’m a strong believer in getting therapy. I think therapy can give you a lot of the tools to manage in the moment those things that are really difficult. It also has helped me adopt mindfulness practices that I can do while I'm in those moments where I'm just kind of be overwhelmed, which tends to happen when you're having breaking news. And I think grounding yourself and taking a moment to breathe deeply and ground yourself is helpful.
YH: How is your internship in The Dallas Morning News?
LG: I’m really loving it. I’m new to Dallas. The first time I came here really was for this internship. I'm from the central Texas region and I also lived along the south Texas border for a while and so moving to north Texas has been different. But it’s really exciting. It's different culturally and demographically. And also, it’s different just because the sheer size of the D.F.W region (Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington Metropolitan Area) is massive. It's been really exciting to be here because it's a really happening place, a lot of things happen here in terms of national interest. We have a lot of big events and a lot of big sporting teams as well. It's really cool to be in a city and covering topics that the rest of the nation is also interested and curious about. The photo team here is remarkable and it's really wonderful to work with such a diverse group of people in the newsroom.
YH: Can you get give suggestions to college photojournalist for future?
LG: Some people get this advice a lot, but I really do think it's the best. It's just starting your own backyard. I didn't get an internship my first year at graduate school and everybody else did. I was panicking. I'm going to be so behind. I don't have an internship. It’s so bad on my resume. So the first summer of grad school I stopped in a collective myself and I thought to myself, “Ok, what do you want to be doing.” What I really wanted to do I wanted to go back to the south Texas border and work on my own project that I was interested in. So that's what I did.
I moved back to the border for that summer and I spent my weekends at the beach and during the week I got up – I had a job and I had an internship – and I would work really hard at this project that nobody was telling me to do and I was just curious and interested in. I built a lot of connections in the community along the border and did a photo essay last summer about the colonials in South Texas. Those are a little under developed communities that don't have a lot of access to infrastructure and water services and city services in the city because it's so far out of the city limits. I got to meet a lot of wonderful people and I got to learn a lot more about myself and my own pace without having to be in the formal structure of an internship.
So my advice is if there's a story that you're interested in, just go do it. You don't need any permission to do it. It actually looks better. It's a better reflection of you if you just get up and do it yourself because it shows you're self-starter and you're interested in that theme. It’s the passion come to leading you not because someone comes to tell you go do the story. So that’s my best advice for college students, start doing stories that matter to you because that will reflect really well what you need you find censorship. That will also be the key to unlocking some of the bigger opportunities. So after I did that self-started project. That's what I use to show future editors and that's how I started getting internships because they had a big project that I worked on my own and that was impressive by itself.