Media Maven Monday: Phil Villarreal

Media Maven Monday: Phil Villarreal

In the media it is the bylined and on-air talent that the public gains exposure to, not aware of the background work performed to help produce or publish a news story. The world deserves to meet these unsung heroes of the media! Bi-monthly, Strongpoint Marketing will introduce a new media maven.

Without further ado, meet the first ever Media Maven, Phil Villarreal! Phil works at KGUN9 as an Assignment Editor and Web producer.

Phil Villarreal moved to KGUN after 17 years with the Arizona Daily Star, where he was a movie critic, columnist, and reporter.

Villarreal has penned three books: Secrets of a Stingy Scoundrel, Stormin’ Mormon and Zeta Male. He has freelanced for Kotaku, Engadget, Huffington Post, Consumerist, the Washington Post and the Arizona Republic.

A University of Arizona business graduate, Villarreal also grew up in Tucson. He reviews movies at and video games and tech gadgets at

Media Maven Monday: Phil VillarrealQ&A with Phil Villarreal

Who has most influenced your career and why?
My high school journalism teacher at Mountain View HS, Andrew Morrill, was a tremendous influence. He instilled a thirst for news, reporting and storytelling in me. From the moment I started taking his class as a junior I knew it would be my career. He is a brilliant man, and our personalities and thought processes clashed quite often. In that respect, he taught me as much in some vicious psychological and professional clashes as he did in a traditional textbook way. Learning how to deal with a tough authority figure who sees things differently than you do is a skill he helped me cultivate.

What has your years of experience in news taught you?
That any time I think I know how something works or can predict the outcome of a certain situation, I’m usually wrong. Anything can truly happen, and experience can sometimes be an obstacle that prevents you from looking at a given situation with a fresh, un-cynical eye.I have also learned that the role of keeping the public informed has only grown more urgent as technology has evolved, replacing the old ways we consume and disseminate news with new ones. Media continues to evolve, and social media has created a Wild West-type feel. It’s a time of tremendous creativity and innovation that’s exciting to see develop and unfold every day.

How do you explain your work to friends and relatives?
I tell them that I love what I do because the people I work with are bright and passionate, and that I thirst to compete with other media at breaking and digging up news. It’s a joy to continue to review movies and develop my skills in video while continuing to write about them. I love what I do and am thankful every day for the opportunity to do it – especially since having been laid off at the newspaper. When people bash “the media,” I stand up for my profession and confront them about a perceived laziness and bias that tends to be slapped on us. Anyone who thinks the media can be controlled on a mass, conspiratorial level doesn’t understand how many working, conflicting cogs make up the so-called machine. I like the opportunity to defend the craft to those who don’t see it and advocate the importance of the watchdog role of journalism.

What makes a story worthwhile to pursue?
If you learn about something and your instant instinct is to want to tell someone about it, that’s the truest sign that a story has value and is worth pursuing, fleshing out and finding a way to deliver it in the most invigorating, impactful way possible.

Why did you want to go into news coverage?
I enjoy writing and storytelling on all levels, whether it’s at my day job, in my freelance capacity or writing novels and screenplays for fun. All great stories emerge from real life, so in that sense journalism is the inspirational core of every story. That joy, eagerness and curiosity to discover and tell stories is what drives me.