Years of field work in foreign countries led to reporters journalistic ingenuity

From the streets of El Salvador, Sandoval reports on police activity during the countries elections.

From the streets of El Salvador, Sandoval reports on police activity during the countries elections.

Reporting wars, meeting deadlines, maneuvering around the government, editing news packages in secret and smuggling news footage thousands of miles. These scenarios may sound like situations encountered in spy movies, but they recount real events in which investigative reporter and Emmy Award winner Angie Sandoval had to work through.

“It wasn’t like today where you could send a package online. There were no cell phones, computers or cameras we could use to send footage,” said Sandoval. “There was a specific tape and that tape needed to get to Miami.”

Sandoval has been working as a broadcast journalist for over 20 years covering local, national and international news. After attending the University of Miami, she started her career by writing voice over’s for local news channel 51 in Miami. According to Sandoval, this was the time her journalistic skills “grew and refined.”

During the early 1980’s, Latin American countries were the highlight of Spanish news stations like Telemundo, which Sandoval worked for. Tensions were high in Central America due to civil unrest from the pro-soviet communist governments in those countries. Many reports stemmed from communist outbreaks in El Salvador and Nicaragua as well as possible threats to the Panama Canal, which would isolate the rest of South America from the United States if pro-soviet communist groups took control.

“I think that was a real test because there are different conditions out in those streets such as political, social arrest and insecurity. It was very dangerous,” said Sandoval. “Those regimes did not like what the media was putting out, we had to learn to maneuver around them.”

Sandoval expressed that her experience reporting from Panama was difficult and she “had to be creative” in order to get the story to her producer in Miami.

“Back then there was only one television station [in Panama], which was owned by the government,” said Sandoval. “So in Panama, the government decided that no video could be sent at all.”

With disapproval from the government and a story at hand, Sandoval had to think on her feet and find a way to get the report to her television station miles away. Network news stations used to rent small planes to transport tapes but a local news station, such as the one Sandoval worked for, had to be more ingenious.

“We would go to the airport, find a flight going to Miami, find a person that wouldn’t stand out like a priest or a homemaker and ask if they would take the tape with them,” said Sandoval. “Usually there would be an intern waiting at the airport in Miami with a big sign saying channel 51 or 53 and take the tape to our producer.”

Years of working under tricky situations led her to successful reporting and a position at NBC’s Telemundo Network News as a correspondent for the show, Noticiero Telemundo.

“I learned a lot in my early 20’s,” said Sandoval. “I learned from really experienced correspondents on how to do things.”

Sandoval has traveled all over the globe covering world affairs and national matters. Telemundo cameraman Oscar Lagos has traveled with Angie to many locations including Atlanta during the Ebola outbreak this past summer.

Sandoval takes a picture with cameraman Oscar Lagos while in Atlanta, reporting the latest on the Ebola outbreak.

Sandoval takes a picture with cameraman Oscar Lagos while in Atlanta, reporting the latest on the Ebola outbreak.

“Angie is a very smart and kind person who knows what she is doing,” said Lagos. “I really like to work with her because she knows exactly what angles she wants, what shots she wants and what interviews she needs. It’s really easy to work with her.”

Lagos also expressed his fondness for Sandoval because she is “supportive and humble.” Something he says can be rare in the television world.

According to Sandoval, many in the television world think that a pretty face is everything,

“Yes, be presentable but you need essence and you need to have experience in order to stay in business for a long time,” Sandoval said.

Angie biggest advice for striving journalist in an evolving field is to be patient and learn as much as you can.

Sandoval on assignment at the White House.

Sandoval on assignment at the White House.

“Young people now, they are starting and they want to be anchors right away. You have to understand that if your goal is to be an anchor or network correspondent on 60 minutes, it’s going to be a long road,” said Sandoval. You are a long distance runner. Be patient keep a certain speed and hold on.”

Similar to Sandoval, National Assignment Editor for Telemundo Edgar Zungia, has had to work his way to the assignment desk. He says that Sandoval’s motivation and dedication to her work is admirable.

“Angie always comes up with fascinating ideas and working with her is exciting,” said Zuniga. “I’ve known a lot of journalist and I can truly say that Angie is both humble and talented. She knows how to draw her audience into the story and that’s important in this business.”

Sandoval expressed that her drive to continue in this career is her constant thirst for knowing more. She states that her curiosity has helped her develop stories and ask questions. She finds it extremely powerful when her characters are the ones that tell the story through their experiences.

“With the internet and communication it’s easy to find out things,” said Sandoval. But you got to learn to use technology to go in depth. Don’t just report the headline.”

Sandoval hopes to continue in this field for many more years and continues to develop new creative ways to tell stories in which her audience will remain interested.

Click here to watch Angie Sandoval retell her experience while covering the 33 trapped miners in a mine in Chile. 

Click here to watch Angie Sandoval’s interview with an ex-drug trafficker in Colombia. 

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