One moment she is fact checking a story online, seconds later she is sending reporters into the field, all the while she has one eye trained on her email, and an ear tuned into two police scanners for breaking news. It’s all in a hectic day’s work for Sofia Pop, assignment editor for KVEA-TV Telemundo 52.
Pop (’01, B.A., communications) often finds herself in a well-orchestrated frenzy while sitting at her assignment desk for the Los Angeles-based Spanish language television station, where the California State University, Dominguez Hills (CSUDH) alumna has worked since 2014. Her main duties include following up on and researching news leads, and dispatching reporters and news photographers to breaking news stories throughout Southern California.
“We do a lot because we are responsible for what will be put on air. We attend editorial meetings and work with the news director and the producers, as well as news crews,” said Pop. “We have to monitor basically everything that’s going on in the city as far as breaking news to see if there is a story for that day, follow up on leads or research potential investigative stories that we may return to for the ‘sweeps’ periods.”
Pop has been a broadcast journalist for over a decade. Before making the move to Spanish media she was a field producer and news assignment editor at KCBS/KCAL-TV, a news assignment editor at KNBC-4, and an on-air reporter at Hawthorne Community Television.
Information gathering and verifying is essential to Pop’s daily tasks in her role as assignment editor.
“It’s important that we confirm that what people are telling us is accurate. We have to make sure it’s legit,” said Pop, who often interacts with police on breaking news involving crimes.
To help the reporters gather information, Pop will work behind the scenes, making calls to neighbors and others who live close to the scene to find witnesses, while the reporters go door-to-door or talk to people standing around.
“Finding people who actually saw something is very important. Sometimes they take videos or photos with their mobile phones,” she said. “We often get our video from local residents.”
It is often difficult to obtain information from witnesses or those connected to a crime, according to Pop, giving the recent example of the April 10 murder-suicide at North Park Elementary School in San Bernardino, which left a special education teacher, a student and the assailant dead, and one student injured.
“During the vigil, we tried to make connections again with family members, but sometimes people are not willing to speak because they are so hurt and distraught,” said Pop. “However, there will often be a family member or friend willing to stay in touch, and we maintain those connections to stay up to date on what’s going on related to the story. It’s often sad to do that, but it’s important for both the family and the public for that information to be correct and out there.”
Pop, a member of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, and her colleagues have been recognized for their stellar reporting. She and her Telemundo news team won an Emmy in 2014 for the 7 p.m. to midnight news timeslot, a category that includes both Spanish and English news stations. At KNBC-4, she and her colleagues grabbed a Golden Mike for investigative reporting, and Pop received a solo honor from the Humane Society and the West Basin Municipal Water District for raising water conservation awareness when she was a reporter at Hawthorne Community Television.
Pop is humble about her accolades, and attributes much of her success in journalism to her CSUDH professors.
“Going to Cal State Dominguez Hills was such a great experience—mostly due of my professors. Dr. Edd Whetmore, one of my professors, was a real important mentor for me. He taught me that ‘If you want to get into the news media, you really need to know what they’re talking about right up front.’ Late Professor Don Silvis pushed me to get out there and make the most of my internships,’” Pop said. “All my professors let me be myself, and evolve on my own, but with exceptional help to push me along. It really gave me the confidence to tell myself that I can do this, to go after my dreams.”