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November 17, 2017

Meet Antonio Ortiz

As Director of Marketing & Strategy at NJTV News With Mary Alice Williams, Antonio Ortiz creates strategies and materials to grow the series’ audience. He also provides data and insights to cultivate financial support for its operation. “Because of my background and interests, I am a digital catalyst of sorts in the newsroom, encouraging everyone to do more real time reporting online, pushing our digital presence and experimenting with technologies often long before other larger news operations do so. I take care of the daily livestreams and special news events livestreams. On occasion, I’ve also contributed to the making of the newscast, serving the translation voice of President Castro in a report, translating interviews, and providing sources and fact checking for technology stories,” Antonio says. Read on to learn about Antonio’s work on NJTV News’s recent Election Day coverage, the impact the PBS station in Puerto Rico has had on his life, and more.

Antonio Ortiz

What is your background, and how did you land at NJTV?

Throughout my career, my work always seems to be heavily influenced by technology. I started my career as the Operations Manager to the Director of Marketing and Public Relations for Mason Gross School of the Arts, and next accepted a position at the arts conservatory at Rutgers University. While there, I coded my first website in HTML for the Rutgers Arts Center. (It was 1992, so the site was text only.) Following that, I spent a few years doing marketing work for various dance organizations, and creating and launching the marketing operation for Ballet Hispanico in New York. I then moved to the more commercial world of advertising, where I was in charge of creative services, followed by work at a digital agency, where I produced everything from apps to websites to e-books. About four years ago, Phil Alongi, the Executive Producer for NJTV News, contacted me. We had a series of great conversations that ended with me joining the team. I knew Phil from my arts experiences — ask him about opera if you have a chance — and during our conversations, it became obvious that I could be a valuable asset to the team.

You just emerged from a whirlwind of activity surrounding NJTV’s coverage of the elections on November 7. How did you and the NJTV News team prepare for Election Day?

Political and election related coverage always gives us an opportunity to experiement with new digital initiatives. We had a very strong digital presence during the conventions last summer, including many late nights doing livestreams. You can explore the archives at conventions.NJTVNews.org. This year, we produced debates and videos specifically for social networks. This was an exciting achievement as we’ve been steadily moving towards a fully integrated editorial and digital team.

Prior to last week, the biggest project I was responsible for was the relaunch of NJTVNews.org. I led the news side of the project, working with IEG to create a much more robust and flexible online home for our newsroom. For the election, I was responsible for integrating the Associated Press API of election results with our website and control room. I had to learn the API, set it up and test it. It took 13 very long and sleepless days from not having any knowledge of the software to processing results live for air. For a few days, all I saw was election-related raw data.

For our Media with Impact campaign, we’ve been asking viewers to share stories describing how THIRTEEN has influenced their life. How has THIRTEEN (or the PBS station of your childhood) inspired you?

I was born and grew up in Puerto Rico. Public media has been and continues to be very important to me. Thanks to public media, I was exposed to and discovered a world larger than what I could see in Puerto Rico. Public media introduced me to all the museums I wanted to visit and all the performances I wanted to see. It served as a kind of mentor that introduced me to things that I could continue exploring and studying — including mastering the English language. Once I left Puerto Rico to come to the States for college, I continued to watch public television. I realized the moment that British comedies made me laugh out loud that I had become truly bilingual. If I could understand and appreciate the nuanced silliness of Monty Python, then I could do anything in English. In Puerto Rico, public media made me want to explore. Now public media constantly reminds me that I am a citizen of the world.

Do you still have family in Puerto Rico?

Yes, my parents are there, and for past couple of months, a large portion of my time outside of work has been devoted to what is happening in Puerto Rico after the recent hurricanes. Though many have been incredible in giving money, supplies, time, and support to the people still there, it’s important to remember that there is still great devastation in the area two months later. Large portions of the island still have no power or drinking water and are in survival mode, with no real return to normalcy forseeable in the near future. To put the situation in a more personal perspective, my elementary school, middle school and high school are no longer usable buildings. I hadn’t thought about those buildings and institutions in years, and now I can’t help but worry about a generation of young American citizens whose education has been so severely compromised.

Which three shows airing on our stations this month are you most likely to watch, stream, or record?

I watch NJTV News With Mary Alice Williams every day as I do the livestream of the newscast. I’m looking forward to our next In Your Neighborhood special from New Brunswick in early December. And I’ve been DVR-ing Ken Burns’ The Vietnam War, which NJTV has been broadcasting.

Where do you live, and what are some of your favorite places in your neighborhood?

I live in Highland Park, which is a short walk from New Brunswick, home of Rutgers University and many cultural institutions. I enjoy Bagel Dish Café, a smallish place near me. They have good coffee and food, and an eclectic group of people tends to be there on weekend mornings. I recently joined a conversation with a retired astronaut who lives nearby and his friends. He was telling us what it feels like to be ordered to take a space walk.

Do you have a special interest or hobby outside of work? If so, tell us about it!

I often joke that I’m a “post graduate independent student” and that I read for a living. I’m constantly reading and studying new things. I have a lifelong obsession with Shakespeare and Cervantes, their works and the many parallels in their lives. I remain involved in the arts as a founding board member of the Downtown Concert Series and a board member of the New Brunswick Chamber Orchestra, when deadlines allow. I also enjoy exploring television and art from other culture, and recently watched a documentary series from Australia called The House with Annabel Crabb, which had unprecedented access to the House of Parliament. I highly recommend it and you can watch it on YouTube.

Additionally, I have a website where I save links, information, and content I want to explore further. I use it to try publishing experiments, which I then bring to our work at NJTV News. I haven’t written for it in a while, but I do share a lot of interesting links at SmarterCreativity.com.



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