By Abigail Brone, UConn Journalism
April 12, 2019
Tom Maroney never planned to work as a journalist, he just liked telling stories and using a camera to do so. Maroney, a New York native, has worked as a cameraman at Fox 61 news for a decade.
“As college students tend to do, I took a left turn. I changed my major and graduated from Ithaca College right as the housing crisis hit back when Obama took office, and jobs were hard to find.” Maroney said. “At the time, I was working as the production assistant at one of the local TV stations in Binghamton, New York. Their news director pulled me into her office and said, ‘Hey, I know you’re graduating in a couple of months. Would you like to work here full-time?’”
After college, Maroney worked his way up through the ranks, beginning as a production assistant and eventually finding his way behind the camera.
“I fell in love with camera work again. Really, more than camera work, the idea of telling a story visually and finding creative ways to show people the world,” Maroney said.
Fox 61 anchor Jim Altman vouched for Maroney’s technical abilities. “Anything from a technical aspect he’ll definitely know,” Altman said.
Maroney believes print and television both have their benefits, but TV allows a level of informality and visualization of which newspapers are not capable.
“There are challenges across the board and what it really comes down to is, it isn’t so much which one is harder, it’s about respecting that they each have a job to do,” Maroney said. “I see print guys in the field all the time, some of them are very good friends of mine. We’re standing next to each other more often than not. We build a working relationship.”
While it was not a conscious choice to work solely behind the camera, Maroney said he wouldn’t fare well in front.
“[Behind and in front of the camera] both have their own challenges. I would say the kind of pressure an on air personality has would be too much for me to handle,” Maroney said.
Maroney said he and Altman have cultivated a strong working relationship, collaborating often on news packages. Through this, Maroney was able to understand and respect what it takes to become a broadcast journalist.
“If you’re working in a team, it’s just about communication. You gotta know who you’re working with and have an open conversation. At some level, to succeed in this business, there’s a part of you that has to believe, given the same story as the four other people in the room, that you’re gonna do the best job. It’s how you’re successful, if you have that self-confidence to be like ‘I’m gonna go out and I’m gonna make this mine,’” Maroney said.
In the world of fake news, Maroney said he relies on honest reporting and engaging with the community to build a relationship with his audience.
“That term [fake news] has gained such momentum because people believe it, and people believe it because people keep saying it. There are times where it can be downright discouraging, when you’re standing out on a street corner trying to do your job in the pouring rain and somebody spends time out of their day just to tell you what a terrible person you are, without ever meeting you,” Maroney said. “You have to look at yourself and be like, ‘Do I know that what I do matters?’ Words matter. What you say matters.”
His final word of advice on what it means to be a journalist in the age of rapidly-advancing technology and “fake news”?
“Everything comes back to karma. If you’re a decent human being, that’s gonna show through,” Maroney said.
Top photo courtesy of Tom Maroney