Foreign correspondent. “Always follow your heart and passions. Work with integrity”
Foreignpress.org published this article about Valeria Rubino.
Journalist and producer in the Italian Pro Journalists Guild, Valeria Rubino grew up in Naples (Italy), where she got her BA in Political Sciences and her first master’s degree in Parliamentary Law. Before college, she also lived in Paris to swim with a French team. She moved to Miami for a master’s degree in Broadcast Journalism from the University of Miami. Valeria worked as a journalist/interviewer, producer for RAI (Italian TV), L’Equipe TV (French TV), GQ Italia, ArtsLife. She was the foreign correspondent of the press agency LaPresse and an Associate Producer, production coordinator, translator from five languages for the Netflix Show “First Team: Juventus”. Valeria works as a video journalist for the main Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera, Il Roma and VSport by ViaggioSport, mostly covering her two big passions: travel and sports.
The life of a foreign correspondent
What do people not know about working as a foreign correspondent?
It can be very rewarding and entertaining but, at the same time, it’s very challenging. It’s not a “Monday to Friday, 9-5” kind of job. Every day might be a little different, which is an aspect I love. You might be working on holidays and – for sure – on weekends. I prefer to work on weekends and hopefully be free on other days of the week. Sometimes I even like working on holidays, especially if I’m not able to be with my family: That’s the hard part of being an immigrant.
Correspondent in the US
How would you describe your journey in the US as a foreign correspondent?
My journey in the US as a foreign correspondent has been a bit of a rollercoaster. Nothing was really planned, but that’s just the way I like to live my life. I don’t like to know what I will do in a week and where I will be.
I started with a master’s degree in Broadcast Journalism from the University of Miami. Being a very shy Southern Italian girl from a very old fashion family, I’d have never thought I’d even take that step so far from home. For sure nobody -not even myself- would have guessed I’d stay in the US for so many years. During my internship with NBC in Miami, I insisted to go cover an NBA game with the crew. That’s where I met a TV executive that invited me to discover the world of TV production with ESPN. Little did I know my adventure in the basketball world had just begun.
Being an athlete – former long-distance swimmer with Team Italy – it was beyond fascinating. I was working in my wonderland. I loved every bit of it, including the squeaking of sneakers on the court and the entertainment world behind the game.
Even when I moved to NY to work as a producer and camera-girl for Italian news, I kept covering NBA games for Italian, French, and Spanish television stations, radios, newspapers. In hindsight, leaving ESPN and US television was maybe one of the biggest mistakes of my career.
I created my own website – www.viaggiosport.com – that reflects my two big passions: viaggio (travel in Italian) and sports.
Today, I like to mix it up. Producer and technical director for Italian news, host, and correspondent for sports and travel, print journalist, camera-girl for other outlets. Editor in small doses. I love being on the field, in the middle of the action.
Based on what criteria do you choose the stories to cover and report back to your country’s media station? Which are the most important stories for you?
I love human-interest stories of the men behind the athletes. I like to show our audience what it took for successful people to get where they are today. These stories can inspire other people and the young generations, help them to succeed and reach their goals in life. I don’t really like covering politics and I try to avoid it. For some reason, I love reporting about parades. It’s just fun. But the adrenaline, shivers, and joy I get when I cover sports I love have no comparison.
The adrenaline and the sports world
As a correspondent, what is the most exciting part of your job? What are the frustrating or upsetting aspects of working as a journalist for a foreign media outlet in the US?
Attending the main news events can be interesting and humbling. It can help your personal growth. But when I cover the NBA finals, a big boxing fight, or other great sport events is when my excitement skyrockets.
The connection I created with Kobe Bryant during our interviews – rigorously in Italian – is something I will probably miss forever. Having to deal with different characters and personalities while trying to get the answers I want can be tough, but is fun and makes my heart beat faster. It makes me feel more alive. In the locker-rooms, the celebrations of the teams that have just won a title make me shiver every single time.
Being a correspondent during the pandemic
Or “made” me shiver, I should say. This pandemic ruined my job a bit. All the restrictions, all the new rules. I really can’t stand conducting interviews on Zoom or Skype and having to beg a PR person to allow me to ask a question. I love fighting to get my questions answered in the locker rooms, among hundreds of people. Screaming louder than the other journalists, creating a connection with the interviewee so he/she keeps talking to me instead of answering questions from other outlets. That’s when I forget my shyness and perform best.
I really hope this kind of journalism will come back soon. I miss that adrenaline, the feeling that keeps me up at night after covering a game because of all the excitement. Zoom, Skype, and press rooms just take the soul out of the whole process.
Has your experience as a journalist in the US changed the way you approach journalism?
I have only been a journalist in the US. In Italy, I studied Political Sciences and got a master’s in Law. So, my journalistic education is American. It’s funny sometimes when I interact with Italian colleagues because I am not very familiar with the TV/film jargon in Italian, having studied these topics here in the States.
Is there anything you wish you could change about your work as a foreign correspondent in America?
I wish the foreign media visa were an immigrant visa to make us feel less precarious. Also, as you can imagine, I can’t wait for all Covid-related restrictions to be gone and for our work, especially sports coverage, to go back to the way it used to be. It’s hopefully going to happen.
What advice or message would you like to share with aspiring foreign correspondents and journalists?
Always follow your heart and passions. Work with integrity. Share your real thoughts and not what you think people would like to hear. Respect yourself, respect the people you interview. Be a true voice and share your experiences. Be real.
FOREIGN PRESS USA