Sunday, March 4, 2018

A Visit with Producer/Journalist Ramona Marozas: Take One

Photo credit: Ivy Vainio
Ramona Marozas joined the CBS newsroom in 2013 thinking she would only be here a year. It has been about five and her love for Duluth's beauty and the people here has only grown. so that she may never leave. Her interests are broad and her enthusiasm palpable. And she's the only Native American producer/journalist in mainstream television, an achievement she takes real pride in.

"I looked forward to becoming a strong Native journalist so much while in college, and the appeal of giving a voice to the voiceless was so strong," said Marozas. "Now, being the only Native journalist at a mainstream television station within CBS 3 Duluth's coverage area, it is my reality. Natives make up less than one percent of newsrooms across the country."

Marozas grew up in Andover, but Duluth is in her blood now. "A part of me can't leave. I have ridden the Blood on the Tracks Express during Dylan Fest, attended the Bob Dylan Writing Contest, watched Charlie Parr shows, been inside the Historic Duluth Armory and threw baseballs with Alan Sparhawk--I don't remember if he actually threw one--while helping with the new Duluth CW show Night at the Armory, during homegrown and fell in love with the words strewn across the Duluth music scene. There's something magical about this place."

EN: How did you come to take an interest in TV journalism as a career?

Always ready to go to bat for a story.
Ramona Marozas: I was always a curious child. Writing is a passion of mine. Maybe one day I'll write a book. Being a journalist has been one way to be a storyteller. My job is hard, it's not easy. I sit at a computer every day and decide what is going to be in the CBS 3 Duluth 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. shows. There's a lot of responsibility in that. I go to meetings, learn what the stories of the day are and pitch some myself, read through important press releases, stack shows in an order during the newscasts, write headlines and show teases, create graphics for the show, and have a million deadlines. And that's only a snapshot into the news day that changes every day. The only thing that doesn't change is the fear of making a mistake.

There is extra time that needs to be taken in double-checking EVERYTHING. I need to remind myself to breathe sometimes, but I wouldn't change it for the world. Right now, news is so important. Also, I am involved in extra-curricular activities, such as acting for fun, participating in journalism conferences, maintaining relationships, trying to get yoga in. Life's a lot. Maybe it will never slow down, unlike Blood on the Tracks Express [Duluth Dylan Fest], which when the train stops, it does funny things in order to turn around and get the riders back to Duluth. Those stops during life and connecting with nature serve as much-needed times of reflection. They are sanctuaries needed to maintain sanity.

EN: You mentioned disappointment that there's never been a time of less trust in the media. Can you elaborate on that and why this is a serious problem today?

RM: I have mentioned before that I have some disappointment that there's never been a time of less trust in the media, which was an article the Native American Journalists Association shared. However, after much research, I found that some other articles point out that there's never been more trust in the media than now. Maybe there's more trust in local media, and less trust in national, or maybe it is vice versa, that I do not know. All I know is that the importance of being a voice for the voiceless, and the necessity of media being a watchdog (of the government, corporations, society, etc...) was bred into me in my upbringing into journalism as one inhales air to survive. In the summer of 2008, I attended the Crazy Horse Journalism Conference. During college, I spent summers at the American Indian Journalism Institute, and at Native American Journalism Association conferences. I spent college summers in journalism internships across the Midwest. It especially hit me in my college media law class exactly how important it is to have investigative journalism in our society. I suggest everyone learn anything they can either in school or online from First Amendment and Journalism Law classes, or through research.

EN: How has social media changed TV news?

RM: Social media has changed TV news so much. I remember my instructors elaborating on how important social media is in college, and how it has evolved the industry, many of them not even knowing how it was going to. But I have gotten so many Native-related stories through social media. It is amazing, and great, how people have reached out to me and shared their stories in the hope that they would not go on deaf ears. I love social media. Granted, I need to learn how to unplug myself. I am required to use social media for my job, so I use it a lot, but when I'm not working then I need to turn it off. But I'll be at home and I'll see something newsworthy, screen shot it and email it to whoever is working. We have someone working 24/7 because the news never stops. Holidays off are not expected, guaranteed. You learn that in school. They tell you a lot in school that a journalist realizes the true reality once they actually get into it, lol.

EN: What's your favorite part of being a producer at CBS 3?

RM: The fact that every day is different, it never gets boring. I love my bosses, and all the people I work with. I love my job, and I will never forget it until the day I die. I will tell stories about working as a journalist in Duluth on my death bed.

EN: What are the biggest challenges for TV journalists today?

Inside the newsroom with (L to R) Matt Swanson, Dan Wolfe,
Ramona, Jennifer Austin and Shawn Frost.
RM: My challenge is to de-stress from everything. The things I have seen as a journalist are sad. When I started in Duluth I was sent with a video camera to the scene of a child who had fallen from a second story building. It was terrible to see, but when everyone who had gathered heard that baby cry, you could see, but mostly feel, the relief spread across everyone. I have heard of my co-workers being at homicide scenes, even been at some myself. You see people who have lost their homes in fires. These are hard stories to tell, but it is important they are told. You watch the movie All The President's Men, the show The Newsroom, and as a journalist, the chills up or down my back--all around it, shivers up or down my arms--or all around them. It's an honor to hold this position and it is not taken lightly.

EN: You've stated that you identify as Native American with roots in the Bad River Reservation. How many reservations are there within the Northland News sphere? Would you say that there is a greater cross-pollination or influence by Native culture here than most other places? In what ways?

RM: As a Native journalist, my boss has said before that I am a critical player in the newsroom with my understanding and connections within the Native community, which makes up five percent of our region's population. There is a significant percentage of Native population here in the Northland, seeing that overall across the United States, Natives make up less than one percent of the population. It is vital we have a Native journalist working in mainstream TV stations here in the Northland, and as I recruit young Native journalists, hopefully we can get more working in mainstream TV in our region.

* * * *
Tonight is the first episode of the CW Duluth program Night at the Armory.
9:00 p.m. on KBJR Channel 6, Duluth

1 comment:

LEWagner said...

Even 20 years ago, many people were beginning to realize that they could get more real news off of their land-line telephones and from neighbors down at the general store than they could from their TVs and newspapers and magazines.
Now with the Internet and almost instant world-wide communications, the awakening is slowly starting to accelerate.
Probably not fast enough, though. Too many people want to "play it safe".
I am afraid there will be a very high price to pay for that.