As the longtime lead reporter at WSVN in Miami, and later as a correspondent at CBS News and WFOR in Miami, Brian Andrews always seemed to out-hustle the competition and break stories that the other guys missed. He was the guy you knew was going places, as they say. I remember seeing Brian one day in my newsroom in New York and thinking, “this is the guy we need–he’ll be big in New York.” But Brian had other plans.
As you’re about to read, Brian took a bold leap that left many in Miami scratching their heads: why walk away from something you’re so good at? And to leave the country? Well Brian’s now forging a new path in a new place, and serving as an example for those of us who are thinking: what next? If you’ve had a crazy dream, this, kids, might be the time to give it a shot. (And the way to take a dream and make it reality? Use those reporter’s talents that allowed you to talk your way in for the exclusive interview–and use them to talk your way into a job that, like Brian, maybe nobody’d even planned for.)
DISPATCH FROM THE FRONTLINES — Brian Andrews, News Director, RCN in English, Columbia
In December of 2007, I quit my job in Miami TV, sold my house, gave away everything I owned, and moved to Colombia to follow my dream of doing news in English in Latin America. I got out before the collapse of local news. I was lucky. I feel like I was able to leave at the top, on my own terms. I left a month into a new 3 year contract for big money. CBS didn’t understand my reasons. They thought I was crazy. But, they knew my heart was in Colombia, not Miami, and were kind enough to let me go pursue my passions.
Once I got here, it took me about 6 months to get established, but I made it happen. I pitched RCN, the largest TV network in the country on my idea. They loved it. A few months later, Colombia’s News in English was born. At first, it was just me and a producer. We did everything. We translated, wrote, edited, stacked, sent, processed, converted, uploaded, and posted. A few months later, after realizing working 7 days a week wasn’t healthy, I got more help. We expanded to 7 days a week. I hired a weekend anchor and another producer. And then, it just kept growing.
At the start, we were just one webcast a day. Then, we grew to two. Then, we added a third. Next, TV Colombia, our international channel, starting running our shows. Then, we expanded to Avianca Airlines. Last month, we revamped the whole operation, built a new website, and started posting single stories, in addition to the webcasts. We also added weather and sports. We encourage user interaction. We have people email us their photos for our constantly changing header. We solicit contributions of stories from people who have the time to produce them and FTP them to us. We’re doing it all with a staff of 5 and a budget that works out to less than $12,000 a month. This is the future of news: digitally delivered and made inexpensively. My staff is very young, hungry, and full of ideas and energy. We use existing resources to make our product. We offer the opportunity to anyone in the newsroom who is comfortable speaking English to make pieces for our programs. We also shoot our own stuff with handheld cameras.
For my team, its not work, it’s our passion. Plus, we know our project has meaning and impact. We are showing the world there’s more going on down here than bombs and kidnappings. We are teaching others how to make Miami style TV for the internet. We are teaching others a new language, a new way of doing things, and a new way of telling stories. Plus, we are still cutting edge. Right now, we are the only product of its kind being produced in Latin America. So, when you want to know what’s happening in Colombia, please check us out at www.colombianews.tv! In a time when dream jobs in TV news don’t exist anymore… I found mine in Colombia!