Gaby Bruna: A Success Story




Photo: Norm Perdue

Gaby Bruna in Ethiopia, 2006
Gaby Bruna was studying sociology at the Universidad de Costa Rica and journalism at the Universidad Latina in Costa Rica before transferring to the University of Miami School of Communication in 2005. Three years later, she graduated top of her class and was named the best student in visual journalism. Soon after her May graduation, she left for an internship at the Washington Post and was later hired as a video journalist and multimedia producer.

Bruna, 23, now works full time at the washingtonpost.com, where she has been producing and editing video on a full range of topics, from elections coverage to local pets in D.C. and Fashion Week in New York.

"I am really thirsty for producing stories and for getting out there," she said. "You don't have that when you are older, in terms of grabbing your camera and shooting all day."

Bruna said the University of Miami gave her the resources and the confidence she needed to succeed after graduation.

"If you are smart enough to take advantage of them [resources], then you can really go forward," she said.

Bruna said she did take advantage of every opportunity, including working at the school's newspaper, traveling to Africa and producing a major multimedia project with the support of the Knight Center for International Media.

The project, "Haiti's Central Plateau", was considered for the Hearst Journalism Awards. It did not win but came in 12th place and was recently praised on a blog at Poynter Online by Chris Lavin, San Diego Union-Tribune's general manager and one of the judges for the Hearst awards.

"Gaby Bruna's entry was among the most thoughtful work I had seen in five years as a Hearst print judge," Lavin wrote.

Bruna said she did not expect such recognition, but Lavin's comments were evidence she is on "the right track" and had achieved her goals with the project. She said she wanted "Haiti's Central Plateau" to have a point of view but be based on facts and to provide problems but also solutions. "There is a way to make it [the world] better," she said. "You just have to educate the people and give them an infrastructure. It's possible."

Bruna said she is pleased that now millions of people can see her work at the WashingtonPost.com, but she cannot report these same types of stories at her current job. "I try to pitch stories to go to other places and cover that, but there is just no money at this point to be doing that," she said, adding that this might lead to a major transformation in journalism.

"I think we are going to start seeing more non-profits sending out reporters from organizations over [news]papers to cover these things [social interest and international stories] because the whole industry is just going through a cost-cutting situation."

Bruna was born and raised in Costa Rica, where her family remains. She does not have immediate plans to go back home but would not mind if that is what her future holds.

"If I can stay here, great. I love the city. I love this paper. I am learning so much every day," she said. "But if that falls through, I might be in India next year. I might be in Russia. I might go back home. I have no idea."

Posted on December 23, 2008