Editor, Festiva Magazine/Regional Features Editor, Valley Freedom Newspapers
Brandon Garcia is 29 years old and a native of McAllen, Texas. Brandon has a wealth of talent that he chooses to express through a variety of outlets. He is the current editor for Festiva Magazine and Regional Features Editor for Valley Freedom Newspapers. He holds numerous awards in the field of media. In addition, he actively engages in singing outside of his busy work schedule. One night you may see him performing at Archer Park for the city of McAllen and on another night you might hear him on your local radio show.
Tell us a little about your background.
Everything about me is Valley, even my half-and-half name. I started working at The Monitor as a copy editor/page designer when I was 16 and have been there ever since, except for the four years I spent incurring a lifetime of debt for some fun creative writing and film history classes at UT-Austin. Now I’m in charge of Festiva, which is The Monitor’s weekly arts/entertainment magazine, and I oversee the feature news produced by The Monitor and its sister newspapers in Weslaco, Harlingen, Brownsville and South Padre Island.
What exactly does an editor do? Do they just look over the rough draft of a magazine and make changes or is there more to it?
God I wish that was all there was to do. An editor is more or less what a director is to a movie, or a coach is to a football team. You’re on-call almost all the time. Proofreading is what you do when you’re not updating the website, coordinating assignments with reporters and photographers, fielding calls and emails or scrambling to make a deadline. I’m probably a little more hands-on than most editors --- I design the magazine myself, I come up with most of the story ideas, write the headlines, manage and promote the content online, and operate our social media profiles. I do PR and marketing for my publications. I’ve organized photo shoots, concerts and public events. It’s kind of like running a small business.
What is the most difficult part of being an editor of a magazine? How do you overcome it?
Indifference. You have to keep telling yourself that what you do will matter one day, to someone, anyone other than just your mom.
You have become hugely successful with social networking and the news. When did you first realize the potential? Why could you see it when others could not?
My staff and I had all been regular social media users since Friendster started in 2004. We created a MySpace profile for Festiva in May 2008 to go along with a cover story on the way local bands were using the site to connect with new fans. It was the first social media presence among any of the major local news outlets or any of the nationwide newspapers in The Monitor’s parent corporation. We had 10,000 friends in a matter of weeks --- the kind of young, tech-savvy friends that traditional print journalism could never reach, many of whom had never even heard of The Monitor. Suddenly our audience was in direct, personal contact with us, and we knew it would change everything.
Where do you see social media online heading over the next 10 years?
Dangerously out of control.
Facebook and twitter seem to dominate the social market. Do you feel any upcoming sites may reach this level or surpass it? Which one (s) and why.
Facebook is the one to rule them all --- that’s been pretty clear since 2009. Now, it’s also the sole gateway to Spotify, the most amazing thing to happen to music since the MP3. People worship Twitter, and its ability to get info across the globe is unmatched, but I’ve always felt that the idea of a handle (@brandongarcia) is outdated, and that Facebook would eventually come up with a better alternative. Tumblr is totally underrated; it’s the only place a blog can really find a new audience these days.
You've received many awards in creative fields. Which one are you most proud of and why?
I have a love-hate relationship with awards in general --- they’re all too arbitrary to be taken seriously. But it is awesome to have a little trophy on my desk at work --- it suggests I’m not a total idiot to strangers and my bosses. Actually having the opportunity to run my mouth like this is pretty thrilling, thank you RGV Pride.
How do you inspire yourself to continue being creative? Usually it comes down to a) be creative or b) be productive i.e. exercise, do housework, review personal finances, help others etc. --- so bubbling with creativity is pretty much the norm for me. I mean, just look at all the crap I spend my time on:
You have interviewed some people from the RGV that have had some success inside TV and movies. How do you find out about these people? Do you ever get turned down for interviews?
Usually a phone call from a family member. Very rarely will they have a press agent, and most of the actors, directors, etc. we’ve written about are not the type to seek out publicity for themselves. The Festiva reporter who made a lot of headway in finding local celebrities now works as a correspondent for Entertainment Weekly. I’ve never been turned down for an interview per se; usually they just don’t respond to the request. That’s fine --- it’s actually less humiliating that way.
Brandon, thank you for taking the time to let us know more about you and sharing your insight on media and you passion for music.