We recently announced that Barbara Pinto, former network news reporter, has joined W2O as Practice Leader of Executive Communications. As a senior communications executive, veteran television journalist, and anchor at some of the world’s leading news outlets, Barbara has significant expertise that she will bring to our clients.
I had the opportunity to pick Barbara’s brain and learn about her career journey, passion for journalism, and vision for expanding and strengthening our Executive Communications practice. Check out our interview below.
What initially piqued your interest in journalism?
I’ve always loved the power of a good story. As a kid, I was the one buried in a book – oblivious to all else. I’m also rabidly curious – my family would say “nosy.” Combine that with a love of words and writing, a keen sense of adventure and not-so-hot grades in math, and journalism was the perfect fit. It’s a front-row-seat to everything, and a great way to learn something new every day.
One of your first journalism jobs was with WFSB-TV in Hartford, Connecticut. How did you land that opportunity?
I had always wanted to be a foreign correspondent and landed my first journalism job on the Foreign News Desk at the Associated Press. My office was just a few floors above NBC News at 30 Rock, and it was a thrill to work in the same building as NBC News, TODAY and SNL and occasionally catch a glimpse of famous folks in the elevator. At that time, you had to pass a current events test and grammar test to land the position. I was there all of two weeks when my mother, who had been diagnosed with cancer, experienced a pretty significant setback, so I quit my job and moved back home to upstate New York to help care for her. I found a job at a small radio station doing “morning drive” news, which allowed me to care for my mom during the day. The job involved reporting, writing and anchoring local news and reading the school lunch menu – it was “pizza and milk” every Friday. This was a pivotal stage of life in so many ways –as a daughter, caregiver and patient advocate. It also sparked my deep interest in healthcare and medicine.
You have worked for several of the major networks including ABC, PBS and CNBC. With the media landscape changing so dramatically, what does the future look like for major networks?
I wish I knew! The person who can answer that question will rule the news universe. For years, the networks were considered dinosaurs lumbering toward the tar pits. I’m not so sure that’s the case. We’re seeing them morph into content production machines that feed digital, broadcast and OTT (Over The Top) channels, and that transformation is ongoing. This provides a great opportunity for us and our clients as the demand for news and relevant content – by channel –expands.
While you were at PBS, you co-hosted a show called “In the Loop.” Tell us what that experience was like, especially leading up to the 2016 presidential election.
“In the Loop” was a terrific project. My former ABC News Nightline colleague Chris Bury and I helped develop and launch the show. We designed it to be a hybrid of all of the things we loved about journalism – investigative work, politics and quirky feature pieces on something unique to Chicago that folks might not know. It was great to moderate civil and respectful conversations between people of all political persuasions to try to generate understanding and elevate the public discourse.
You have now been coaching/training executives for high-level media opportunities for almost 10 years. What has surprised you the most during this process?
I’m always pleasantly surprised by C-Suite executives at the highest level who are brilliant, yet coachable, and who realize the importance of our work in helping sharpen their performance. It’s wonderful to build those trusted relationships and watch people develop and grow their skills. It’s always a thrill to watch someone “ace” a presentation or interview, knowing how much hard work went into making it happen.
You will be working with fellow rock stars Mike Huckman and Patrick Ryan on the Executive Communications team. What are you most looking forward to?
Mike and I worked together as correspondents at CNBC, and Patrick is a fellow CNBC alum. I’m excited to work alongside them in this new role. I look forward to collaborating with and learning from both of them as we expand and strengthen the practice.
You mention in your Twitter bio that you are a “world traveler.” Where is the coolest place you have ever visited and why?
My favorite place is always somewhere I haven’t been yet! One of the most unusual was an island off the coast of Zanzibar with nothing on it but 12 straw huts, some sand crabs and cute miniature deer roaming around. It was basically a sandy dot in the middle of turquoise sea. We had to carry our bags overhead and wade through waist-high water to get there, since the shoreline was too shallow for boats. As a New York City girl, the thought of a place with no doors or windows was a bit unsettling at first, but it ended up being one of the most peaceful, beautiful and restful trips ever.
Final fun question… you are stranded on a deserted island and can only take one album with you. Which would it be and why?
Right now, I’m whipsawing between Lizzo, The Samples, The Chainsmokers and Maren Morris and Brandi Carlile’s latest collaboration. I’m hoping the deserted island has Wi-Fi so I can bring them all along on Spotify!
Thank you, Barbara, for your time, I think I can speak for the W2O team when we say we’re looking forward to partnering with you to #BeTheBest.