In a typical week, Reuters video journalist Nathan Frandino ’11 may be out reporting on an emergency surgery for a gunned-down mountain lion, covering the reactions to an Apple product release, shooting video of a fish-destroying algae bloom in the San Francisco Bay, and interviewing a librarian who collects items people leave behind in books. He’s also spent the past month in Qatar, covering the World Cup.
“It’s incredibly rewarding,” said Frandino about the mix of assignments he’s doing as Reuters’ go-to video journalist in Northern California, after moving to Oakland from the news agency’s Washington, D.C. bureau in January 2020.
On a fall morning, Frandino—who graduated from Newmark with an International Reporting concentration—chatted with us about his work life these days, his overseas reporting forays, and why he wakes up early on his days off too.
Reuters sent you to cover the World Cup this fall. What was it like working from Qatar? Any highlights of your time there?
Working from Qatar for the World Cup was a fascinating experience. Reuters had around 75 text reporters, video journalists, still photographers, editors and technical staff. The days and hours are long, and it’s a marathon of a story, but it’s one of the biggest and most multi-faceted stories you can cover.
We cover the sports angles—news conferences, training, matches—and we also cover the news angles such as the last-minute change in alcohol sales policy, the unequal enforcement of the stadium politics ban, and conditions for migrant workers. Logistically, it was a challenge at times due to arbitrary enforcement of rules and the need for permission to film in certain areas. A highlight for me is always meeting and working with colleagues from around the world with different backgrounds and skill sets. You develop strong camaraderie and friendships that last long after the assignment ends.
Back in the U.S., what stories are taking up most of your time these days?
Environmental, wildlife and climate change-related stories. California is on the frontlines of climate change, and we see the impact out here– it’s pretty prevalent. There’s a project that’s getting underway here to install solar panels over the canal system. I flew the drone over the area where they’re installing them, and I interviewed the professor at UC Merced whose paper had inspired that project.
What does your day-to-day routine look like, if there is one?
I’m a one-man band. I shoot video and photos, and sometimes I contribute color and quotes to our text colleagues, depending on the story. For the stories out of Northern California, most of the time they’ll be produced by me. I’ll do everything from pitching stories to setting up logistics for the shoot to shooting B-roll and A-roll to cutting what we call an agency edit.
Since we’re a news agency, we do the wholesale video model where we provide the raw B-roll and raw sound bites. So if you’re a producer for the local news channel in Sacramento or New York or wherever, if there’s a story Reuters produces that you want to use to fill your A, B or C blocks, you can use the material for your newscast. Or if you’re on the digital video desks for The New York Times or Washington Post, you can download our clips and use our coverage within yours.
What are the upsides and downsides of being a one-man band?
The best part of this job is the variety of stories I get to do. I get to have full control of the shooting and the editing, and over the general editorial direction of the story, both visually and editorially. I get to work on my own schedule and don’t have to arrange logistics for other people. Sometimes I work with a still photographer and text reporter, but the majority of the time I’m working by myself.
The cons: It’s a very physically demanding job. Depending on the kit I’m bringing out, sometimes I’m carrying a DSLR, Go-Pro, a broadcast camera and a tripod. It’s a lot to carry. I do a lot of driving for this job, and sitting for hours in traffic affects your back and neck and hips. There are assignments where you’re out there for 14 or 16 hours.
How do you unwind?
We do the California thing and go camping a lot. I try to go surfing when I’m in town and don’t have other plans.
I also watch soccer, any of the European leagues. So I’m up early on weekends too.
Besides the World Cup, do you often do stories outside California or the U.S.?
Yes, for Reuters I’ve been to Antigua and Barbuda, Brazil, Barcelona, and to Tokyo for the Olympics.
To cover a big event like that, the sports video producer brings in a team of reporters from all over the world.
You were also editor of the Santiago Times in Chile for a year after J-School. How did that come about?
I went there for my internship for the Santiago Times and then returned after I graduated to work as an editor. I quickly realized that I didn’t want to sit at a desk and direct coverage, that I wanted to do the coverage myself. I like to be out in the field.
What brought you to Newmark J-School?
I was an undergraduate in 2008 when the recession started. I knew friends at newspapers who were being let go. I wanted to delay going into the job market.
I met Colleen Leigh at a college media convention, and I visited the campus in 2009 and sat in on Lonnie Isabel’s class and on Sandeep [Junnarkar]’s class. I applied and got in, and that’s where I learned the video and audio skills.
Which J-School classes and professors made the biggest impression on you?
I learned a lot about storytelling from Bob Sacha, especially thinking in terms of scenes and sequences and preparing for shoots, and thinking about the visuals that can be used to help tell a story. I didn’t take a photo class at CUNY, but I learned DSLRs from Bob Sacha’s class.
I took a broadcast class with John Schiumo, who was then at NY1, and that was very much about writing short, and writing conversationally using video.
I took Fred Kaufman’s feature writing course. Despite working in TV, there’s a significant portion of my job that is writing. Every video I put out is accompanied by a text portion used for broadcast narration on a newscast. It’s often a traditional news story but it’s clear and concise. I credit Fred Kaufman because he’s a fantastic professor and writer. Even if the style is different from what I’m writing now, the core elements are the same: good descriptive writing.
When you think back to your J-School days, which memories or experiences stand out most?
We were all in the same boat. We were all under stress from everyday things, whether that was life outside of campus, going home and paying rent, going out and getting your groceries, trying to have a social life. On campus we’re all facing the same deadlines, looking for stories and story ideas. That helped us develop friendships and relationships and camaraderie, things that are also similar to being in a newsroom at Reuters.
I’ve been told by multiple editors that they’d like to clone me, and that speaks to the experiences and skills that Newmark teaches: being able to write and shoot visuals and report, and being a valuable working member of a team.
What’s coming up next for you?
Down the road, I think my wife and I want to move to Europe, preferably with Reuters since it has bureaus everywhere. If I stay in the U.S., maybe a move down to L.A. to prepare for the 2028 Olympics. I could very well do that with Reuters.
I feel there are aspects of my job I can improve on, and I’m happy in my current position, continuing to look for and pitch stories.