by Mengqi Sun
When the 29-year-old Oscar Gonzalez couldn’t find any satisfying coverage on video games for some time, he decided to take matters into his own hands.
The gamer started his own website, called “original-gamer.com,” in 2008 to review video games.It was not an easy move: the San Antonio, TX-native didn’t have any writing experience and was working a banking job during the day.
Gonzalez somehow made it work, doing reporting and writing for his website at night after work. Over the last 10 years, the site has grown to include news, editorials, and podcasts about the gaming community, while at the same time helped launch his career in journalism.
“Writing that kind of news really showed me that I could write any news, if I wanted to,” Gonzalez, who is now 39 years old, said in a phone interview. “It showed me how important journalism is, but how also exciting it is, which is why I still do it.”
The hobby became more serious when Gonzalez enrolled in a journalism class in a local community college in 2011. There, on the first day of the class, he learned about the sixth “W” element of a story – “so what,” as to the newsworthiness and impact of a story, which he said changed the way he reports.
“That sort of blew my mind,” he said. “That was one thing I've never realized on my own.”
While acknowledging that self-learning is rewarding, Gonzalez dived into formal journalistic training. He first finished a degree in communications in 2014 at Palo Alto College, a community college in his hometown, and then a bachelor’s degree in the same field with a focus on journalism at Texas A&M University – San Antonio in 2016.
The same summer after his college graduation, he moved to New York to pursue a master’s degree in journalism at City University of New York. It was a rocky beginning: as Gonzalez started the program, he was rejected for his student loan. During the first month of school, he found himself with one month of money left as he started an online fundraiser, raising $500 before he got approved for another student loan.
Among the programs at CUNY, Gonzalez chose business journalism as his concentration, hoping to learn to cover a broader field of beats besides entertainment for a range of outlets.
Noting Gonzalez’s strong audio skills and knowledge in business journalism, Greg David, who is the director of the business and economics reporting program at CUNY, still remembers a storyGonzalez did on Amazon’s business practice for the program’s website.
“What made [Gonzalez] stand out, what made him a little different is his background,” David said. “We don't get too many people doing career changing from video gaming. That said, I think [Gonzalez] exemplifies what we do at the J-School and the kind of people we produce in the business reporting program.”
Moving to New York has also offered Gonzalez the opportunity to practice his skills at a varietyof media outlets. With internships and working experiences at WNYC radio, NBC News, and Inverse, he is one of the 20 interns participating in this year’s Dow Jones News Fund’s business reporting program as he heads to TheStreet.com for the summer.
Gonzalez said the summer internship will help him get closer to achieve his goal of holding asenior position in a newsroom, including being an online editor or a radio producer.
“These are the two key things I've developed over time is developing people to be better at their jobs and also making a news outlet grow in size,” he said, drawing from his previous experience working as the Editor-in-Chief at his college’s student publication.
As Gonzalez looks for the next stage of his career, he traced the reasons that have kept him going back to the early days of his journalistic experiment.
“In the past, I've done different jobs… Even though I could say I was good at some of them, none of them I really liked,” he said. “Working on my website, writing for my website was something that I enjoyed and that was a big deal… It was rewarding on its own and that's why I'm sticking to it.”