May. 3, 2013  

We The Journalists: Geo Rodriguez

Ihosvani Rodriguez is more casually known as “Geo.” He got the nickname in middle school when a classmate mistook his name for Giovanni and started calling him Geo. It stuck around, except for his Sun Sentinel byline, which still reads “Ihosvani Rodriguez,” because “my mother doesn’t read my stories… just my bylines.”

By: Dori Zinn

GeoRodriguezRodriguez has been at the Sun Sentinel since 2004, covering crime and occasional crazy Florida stories. When he isn’t showing off South Florida on Instagram, he’s part of a team that won Sun Sentinel its first Pulitzer Prize.

“I’ve been a newspaper reporter for 17 years. It’s still strange that my first major award is for videos,” Rodriguez says. He produced all four videos that were a part of the “Speeding Cops” package. Pretty good for a guy whose journalism education was by “screwing things up really bad.” Follow him on Twitter.


SPJ South Florida: What’s one part of your job that most people don’t realize you do?

Geo Rodriguez: It still amuses me to run into people who are puzzled on why a newspaper guy wants to interview them with a video camera.

It also surprises many to learn that most of us in my team reports and writes stories and then shoot and edit video for those stories all in one day.

Sometimes we find time to Tweet, Facebook and Instagram!

What’s the least glamorous part of your job?

The crazy long hours and sitting through countless boring meetings and/or court hearings. Unlike TV journalists, we are not recognized at crime scenes.

Career highlight and lowlight?

Highlight: as a really young Florida Today reporter, I got to go hunting for frogs at night in the pitch-dark Everglades among all the alligators.

Lowlight: Still living quarter to quarter worried about being laid off.

What’s the most frustrating part of your job?

We have fewer staffers and more appetite for content in all sorts of platforms. It is getting harder to find time to do more meaningful projects or stories that require more than a day of effort.

What’s the most fun part about your job?

I really enjoy going to work not knowing what my day will be like. I once jumped off an airplane with the Army’s Golden Knights in Homestead and was at the scene of a house fire the next morning.

Do you remember a point in your career that you feel you wouldn’t be who you were today without it?

I was stuck covering a Hollywood city meeting one day and my editor called me to ask if I wanted to go work for sister TV station WSFL as a shooter/reporter based in Miami. My only qualification: I am from Miami. I said yes and my career continues to change every day because of that decision.

If you had to do your career over, what would you do different? What’s your biggest regret?

I honestly have no regrets. I never had a game plan and never took a journalism class beyond a Mass Communications 101 course I took at Miami-Dade College on a whim. I’ve learned everything by screwing up things up really bad… and yet everything has turned out peachy thus far.

There was a time I did a telephone interview with Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters many years ago. It was horrid from the moment he answered the phone and I totally blanked out. It was exactly like that SNL skit with Chris Farley and Paul McCartney. “Remember when you guys did Meddle? That was so cool.”  I think I ended up hanging up on him because I was too embarrassed.

Who did you admire or look up to when you started out?

As a weird high school band geek, I worshiped Miami Herald, Miami News and Washington Post bylines. In college I wanted to be Hunter S. Thompson, Jack Kerouac and Tom Wolfe.

What piece of advice would you give to young people who are just starting out their careers?

It’s going to be rough, but there are many rewards for those who stick to it for all the right reasons. Industry leaders are looking at you right now for answers, but don’t be afraid to be wrong because everyone is still trying to figure this out. You need to be aware that what works for you today will likely suck for you tomorrow and you will need to adapt quickly.

What’s the future of newspapers as you see it?

None of us work for “newspapers” anymore. Unlike what others want to believe, I think we are a lot closer to finding out what a “newspaper” is supposed to be and look like. Look at what the Boston Globe is doing right now following the Boston Marathon bombings.

Getting there has been bumpy and frustrating, but I think it’s going to work out for those of us who manage to stick around.


Throughout March, April, May and June, SPJ South Florida Pro will feature Q&As every Friday with South Florida’s most prominent journalists. Want to see someone featured? Want to join SPJ? Email us.

Dori Zinn is VP of Membership for SPJ South Florida Pro. Follow her on Twitter.

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