ThreeSixty HotSeat: Ruben Rosario, Pioneer Press

Ruben Rosario headshotI have heard a lot of people speak about themselves, their struggles and their life experiences. But nobody touched me more with his or her words than Ruben Rosario.

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A columnist at the Pioneer Press, Rosario has a very distinct personality and life story. You will think he is simply an “in-your-face” type of man when you read his opinion columns, but there is a lot more to him than you may think.

He speaks for “the underdogs, the average Joes, the working class people,” as Rosario puts it.

“My driving edge is providing a voice for those who don’t have one.”

Born in Puerto Rico, Rosario permanently settled in the U.S. at age 5 with his mother. Because English was not his first language, he learned it by “listening to the radio.” But he did not let his circumstances stop him from being his best. In fact, he truly was the best at his high school, receiving the honor of valedictorian and beating his runner-up by “0.05 of a point”, he recalled.

From there, he studied pre-med at Fordham University. Unfortunately, he “disappointed” his parents by not becoming a doctor or a lawyer. In fact, he did not know what to do.

“I knew I liked to write,” Rosario said.

So he took up an internship at his community newspaper during his senior year. His first job in journalism was as a copy boy, a job that no longer exists, at the New York Daily News, a newspaper dedicated to “aggressive” news.

He loved writing so much, he wrote 50 stories for free while covering Latin music and New York culture. But when his company was promoting copy boys to reporters, for some reason, he wasn’t chosen.

But Rosario did not just wallow and cry. Instead, he wrote a letter to the newspaper editor, asking, “Do I have to change my name to Chip Barnsworth or some Anglo name to get a shot to write for this newspaper? Because I will do it.”

He started in Brooklyn in 1981.

Spending 11 years as reporter covering the NYPD, some of the most memorable news he covered was the fire in Bronx that killed 86 people and interviewing the girl who escaped from the fire. When his company went on strike in 1990, Rosario did not just sit around. He and his co-workers started their own newspaper and were the first to cover the Persian Gulf War.

He got his job back.

But Rosario knew he did not want to be a reporter forever. “I wanted to write about the nitty-gritty stuff,” he said.

He saw that the Pioneer Press was hiring, and when his interviewer asked him what he knew about Minnesota, he said, “It is cold and you have the Vikings.”

He moved to snowy Minnesota and has been a columnist there since 1997. But Rosario does not just give his opinions, like other columnists.

“I try to be balanced because I try to give thought-provoking counterpoints to my argument. But in the end, it’s what I think about (the topic),” Rosario said.


Editor’s note: ThreeSixty is fortunate to have wonderful media volunteers collaborate with our instructors during summer camp. As part of our July Intro to Journalism Camp, each visiting media member is being (cruelly?) subjected to our ThreeSixty HotSeat, where students can ask whatever question they’d like to help build a “getting to know you” profile.

Special thanks to Ruben Rosario of the Pioneer Press. To learn more about the author of this piece, Lujain Al-Khawi, check out bios from our 15 campers.