Liza Gross, El Nuevo Dia, participated in an IWMF Live chat on Thursday, September 26, 2002.
What was your first job in the media?
My first full time job in the media was as editor of the Latin American Desk of The Associated Press in New York. (That was after several years of contributions to modest and not-so-modest publications on scintillating topics such as Christmas traditions in Latin America, or meatier subjects like a comparison between the real Eva Peron versus the character in the musical).
Did you have a career plan?
Career plan? What was that? At 20 all I wanted was to edit and write and get the greatest scoop on earth. I did not start thinking in terms of a structured career plan until about 10 years later, when I went for my master's in public affairs reporting.
Who was your most important mentor? What did you learn from her/him? How did you apply that in your career?
Interestingly, my most important mentor was not a newspaper person. She was a history professor in my undergrad days. Her greatest gift was that she taught me to identify my strengths, to avoid superficial thinking and to have a professional approach to whatever I set out to do. And books have always been, and still are, my perpetual and irreplaceable mentors.
What was the biggest roadblock that you faced, as a woman, in your career? How did you overcome it?
Sometimes I have trouble figuring out whether the roadblocks I faced were due to the fact that I am a woman, or that I am a minority, or that I simply was not in the right place at the right time, or a combination of all three. I could fill a book with specific instances, ranging from having my opinions discounted to being asked (directly and indirectly) to support male colleagues who were not really competent, but were making more money than I was and certainly had more privileges and visibility. For overcoming techniques, see next question.
In one simple sentence, what one piece of advice would you give women who want to succeed in the media?
Get a Ph.D. That's Professionalism, Humor and Determination.