San Diegan Breaks The Mold At NBC 7

Garcia finds joy working in San Diego. (Photo: catherinegarciasandiego.wordpress.com)

by Madeline White

NBC 7’s Catherine Garcia is an anchor unlike many others. She isn’t thirsty to be hired into a big city market. She isn’t desperate to be promoted to the next NBC Nightly News anchor. She goes to her job everyday in sunny San Diego with a smile on her face, because for her, there is no other community she’d rather work for.

Garcia has been a Southern Californian since the beginning. A Los Angeles native, she studied broadcast journalism at the University of Southern California. She got her start in the field working behind the scenes for CNN Headquarters in Atlanta and with the CNN Los Angeles Bureau. Later, she got a job at KTSM-TV in El Paso as an anchor and reporter. She also spent three years in Austin as a morning anchor at KTBC-TV, and eventually rose to the position of morning and weekend evening anchor for the ABC station WFAA in Dallas.

In 2003, Catherine Garcia joined NBC 7 San Diego as the station’s weekend anchor.  But by 2011, she was promoted to the primary evening news anchor, making her the first Hispanic in the role at the news station—an interesting observation considering that 1 in every 3 people in San Diego County are Hispanic, according to a 2014 survey by the United States Census Bureau.

Aside from anchoring newscasts, Garcia partners with the Voice of San Diego organization to produce an award-winning series called “San Diego Explained,” which tries “to break down the big issues that are affecting our region in a TV friendly, easily digestible way,” according to her blog.

Besides journalistic priorities, Garcia is dedicated to her family as well. She and her husband Tad have a 7-year-old son, which inspires her self-referencing blog title, “mom by day… news anchor at night.”

When did you know you wanted to be a broadcast news journalist, and who were your biggest influences?

CG: I decided I wanted to be a broadcast journalist in high school.  I loved to write and got involved with the school newspaper first.  Then, I took the production class in which we produced a student newscast once a week.  I enjoyed it so much that I decided to go to USC, because it was one of the few universities that had a specific broadcast journalism degree.  Because I grew up in the LA area, the female anchors there influenced me quite a bit.  Women like Colleen Williams and Laura Diaz.  But I’ve also always been inspired by the greats, and especially Edward R. Murrow. 

What has been the most rewarding part of working in San Diego? Has the San Diego community fueled your passion?

CG: I think the most rewarding part of working in San Diego for me is probably the same thing it is for a lot of people, no matter what job they have: this is an amazing place to live and raise a family, and I want it to be my home forever.  I think a lot of journalists hope to work in the biggest market they possibly can, not just because the money might be better, but because they want to feel like they’ve “made it.”  But for me, working in a place that I truly love and care about is much more important.  I am truly invested in the things that happen here, because it affects me and my family in a very personal way.  While working in a bigger market (Dallas) was certainly good experience, I would much rather work in this market!

Besides the obvious responsibility of delivering breaking news accurately and ethically, what other responsibilities does your job as NBC 7 primary news anchor come with?

CG: Outside of the newscasts my responsibilities include: writing for our website, being active on social media, emceeing numerous events throughout the year, mentoring younger reporters and being a leader in the newsroom.

I understand you are the first Hispanic to be promoted to the primary anchor role at NBC 7 San Diego. How does it feel to be “breaking the mold,” so to speak?

CG: Because I grew up in LA, I grew up watching Hispanic women in primary, prominent spots in TV news for decades, so it certainly doesn’t seem rare or extraordinary to me.  Given our demographics, it’s more like “how has this not happened in San Diego for all of these years?!” However, I certainly appreciate the fact that the management at NBC7 has always (at least, as long as I’ve been here), made it a priority to have a diverse news team, and to provide opportunities to people of all backgrounds.  I do feel very grateful whenever someone in the Hispanic community has called me a role model, though.  And I take that very seriously!

What do you do in your free time?

CG: I spend most of my free time hanging out with my husband, son, two cats and yellow Labrador.  You’ll also find me glued to my iPad much of the time, thanks to a slight obsession with Facebook and Twitter.  But I also enjoy volunteering throughout the community, cooking and trying new restaurants, practicing yoga, cheering for the USC Trojans and traveling.

Where do you see yourself in ten years?

CG: I see myself right here in San Diego!  But the news business is changing so dramatically and quickly, that I’m not sure it’s even possible for me to have the exact same role I have right now.  If it is possible, I’d love to be doing exactly what I’m doing right now at NBC7, though.  It’s a dream job!

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