After a seven year absence from the air, Pablo Gato is making a comeback to television news.
He started freelancing for “Noticiero Univision” in March, most recently covering Senator Robert Menéndez’s indictment on corruption charges. The case also had him pulling early morning shifts to do live reports for “Despierta América.”
He’s currently filling in for Univision’s D.C. correspondent, Lourdes Meluzá, for the next few weeks and will continue to do additional work after her return.
The Emmy award-winning correspondent was ousted from Telemundo in a round of brutal layoffs in 2008 after a 22-year career at the network. He had spent the last 15 years as a Washington, D.C.-based correspondent.
Pablo also had a prolific career as a war correspondent, covering more international conflicts than any other journalist in U.S. Hispanic television: Iraq, Afghanistan, Kuwait, Pakistan, Croatia, Kosovo, Bosnia, Lebanon, Israel and the Palestinian territories, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Peru-Ecuador, and the US invasions of Haiti and Panama.
Where has Pablo been the past seven years? He founded his own communications company and authored two novels, with a third on the way.
In an interview with Media Moves, Pablo shared what he’s been up to since his departure from Telemundo and his new beginnings with Univision.
You were off the air for 7 years. What did you miss most about reporting?
I’m a journalist and I’ll always be a journalist. I especially missed investigative journalism – the opportunity to go deep into a topic and be able to share with the audience something important and relevant that they didn’t know before. I’m a fierce defender of journalism and the media. I’m totally convinced that without a strong and independent media, real democracy simply can’t exist. It’s now more important than ever.
How did your return to TV happen?
I shared my desire to come back to TV news and the opportunity came up to work as a freelancer at Univision in Washington, DC. My first story was about the First Lady’s Hispanic guests at the State of the Union. All were fantastic and inspiring examples of our community.
My main contribution is on “Noticiero Univisión,” but if other shows from the network need me, I’m always glad to assist.
You landed right in the middle of a political scandal with the Menéndez case. Do you like the idea of covering the political/DC beat?
Yes. I’m very familiar with the city and I love it. The decisions made in Washington directly affect the lives of not only our viewers, but also many others around the world. It’s a privilege to be able to see it in person and share it with the audience. Having said that, I also love to do stories more focused on a human angle.
What do you like best about your return to reporting? Do you think the way news is covered has changed in the past seven years?
I consider journalism a public service and believe it’s a very important job. Every day I try to make a difference and, when I achieve it, it makes me happy. If our community is not well informed, they can’t make good choices about so many issues that are vital for their lives and their families.
I take my stories as seriously as a cardiologist is in the OR performing open-heart surgery. Today we have many different news outlets with very different missions. You basically see and hear all kinds of information. The challenge is to tell the news apart from noise.
You worked for Telemundo network for over 22 years. Was it always as a correspondent?
I’ve been a TV network correspondent during the vast majority of my career. I’ve also worked behind the cameras. I started as an intern, then I became a writer and a producer. After that, in 1992, a special events executive producer and a news director for channel 51 in Miami. That experience was very important because it allowed me to get a comprehensive view of how a news department works.
After so many years at Telemundo, were you disappointed at having to leave the company?
I didn’t leave Telemundo voluntarily. It was because of the severe cutbacks during the financial crisis. I’m very grateful for all the opportunities I had there.
I covered thousands of stories, interviewed many international leaders, saw history in the making and traveled travel to more than 100 countries. It was a very positive experience. However, being let go gave me the perfect opportunity to develop other projects that, fortunately, went very well.
What inspired you to launch Gato Communications, what services do you offer and how has business been?
As soon as I left Telemundo, I opened my own consulting company, Gato Communications.
I always wanted to live the experience of having my own company and it was the right time to do it. We assist organizations, especially related to the development sector and nonprofits, to communicate more effectively. I started the company in the thick of the financial crisis, but, fortunately, it’s gone very well. My experience in TV journalism has helped me to assist my clients.
Your first novel was published in 2006, while you were still a correspondent at Telemundo. How did you get started as an author and have any of your personal experiences made it to the pages of your books?
I love to write and I decided to give it a try. The ideas for both novels came from stories that I covered as a correspondent. The second book, “Unidad 120050,” includes several personal experiences during my years as a reporter. Some show the difficulties and, at the same time, the great joy we feel in this, the most beautiful and sometimes cruel profession.
You mentioned you were working on your third novel. What will it be about?
It’s an espionage thriller related to terrorism. I am almost finished but I don’t have a title yet. Hopefully it will be published this year.
What’s your next big challenge?
I see every new story as a big challenge. I always try to improve as a journalist in every single one of them. Besides TV reporting, finishing the novel and working on other projects will definitely keep me busy!
About Pablo’s books:
Pablo’s first novel, published in 2006, is “El plan Hatuey” about a secret and dangerous mission by the Cuban intelligence services in the United States.
Published in 2014, his second novel, “Unidad 120050. Objetivo: independencia” is a political spy thriller that focuses on a rogue ETA cell that hatches a lethal plan seeking to achieve independence for the Basque country, and the CIA’s efforts to sabotage any independence movements in Spain.
Talented and with high discipline.
Glad he is back, doing what he loves the most.
Too bad his chance has arrived within the nasty cesspool that Unimision has become.
Whichever happened to Meluza, we are all sure she will be back, running asap: too much air time for a talent that never delivered squat.
We hope Gato will get the best of the chances.
Pablo, keep your sanity and your proven endeavors alive, Univision is a very dark place nowadays.