Brian Flores used to get teased about it often.
Between 2008 and 2012, he worked as a reporter at a San Diego TV station. And for one story, he was sent out to the San Diego Zoo to do panda watch, awaiting the birth of a baby panda.
Yes, for a short time he lived the life of the characters in the Will Ferrell comedy “Anchorman.”
“It comes with the territory,” Flores said with a laugh.
A decade and a half after anchoring from the desk of CSUN journalism’s Valley View News, alumnus Flores ’06 (Broadcast Journalism) now reports from the desk of Seattle’s Q13 Fox News as a co-anchor on its 4 p.m. and 5 p.m. telecasts.
Over the years, and through television news jobs in San Diego, San Francisco and Washington state, Flores has covered earthquakes, fires and sports championships. Today, he is covering the most significant news story of his generation in the first COVID-19 hotspot in the nation.
“We would get reports, emails all the time that someone tested positive for COVID-19,” he said. “It was just a cascade. This is happening in our backyard and, initially, there was a little bit of panic.”
In the face of the panic, especially to an update-craving public, Flores sees his role as a father-figure type. This is where the art of broadcast journalism comes in. His responsibility, as a news anchor, is to provide unbiased, factual information. But also, he said, his responsibility is to be a calming presence.
“Being a news anchor, it is that balance of trying to do your job as a journalist — get the facts right — but to deliver it in a way that people can digest, that people can understand,” Flores said. “In terms of a crisis like this, I think that it’s important for us to earn that trust — to be that person that you go to.”
There are role models who inspired him and who he looked to that helped him develop as a journalist and deliver the news in a calming, trusted manner. Peter Jennings, the suave and distinguished anchorman whose straightforward approach and consistency made him a legendary figure at ABC News, influenced Flores. Being a Seattleite, Flores has also been influenced by the work ethic of Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson, whose motto “the separation is in the preparation” has become a mantra in the Q13 newsroom.
Included in that group of people who shaped Flores are his father and faculty members at CSUN.
Flores, a San Diego native, is the son of print journalist Ernie Flores Jr. — the founder and publisher of San Diego’s The Filipino Press newspaper, and the first Filipino reporter for the Arizona Republic and San Diego Union-Tribune. Brian Flores initially went to San Diego State, but admits that early on he was struggling with grades and depression. Flores’ goal was to study broadcast journalism, but he couldn’t get into the program because the demand exceeded the number of available spots.
On the advice of his then-girlfriend, now wife, Lina, who grew up in Northridge, he transferred to CSUN. At Northridge, he got into Associated Students government as director of elections, became president of the Sigma Nu fraternity and studied broadcast journalism.
“I took that opportunity at CSUN as a second chance,” Flores said. “The professors there — like Lincoln Harrison, Rick Marks, professor Jim Hill — are veterans. If it weren’t for CSUN and the journalism program, I wouldn’t be where I am at today. That hands-on experience at CSUN was so instrumental.”
Flores has been at Q13 since 2016, and in that time has covered such stories as Seattle’s snowmageddon in 2019 and the Boeing 737 Max crisis. But the COVID-19 crisis, especially since Seattle was hit so hard early, has been the biggest story, Flores said.
How he delivered the news has changed in the past two months. Because of social distancing, Flores anchors alone for the first half-hour of the broadcast, then hands the job over to his co-anchor for the final half-hour.
On Fridays, he field reports from home. His cell phone is his video camera and transmitter to the station for live shots. He uses Zoom to gather interviews and sends the video to an editor.
There have been no mishaps, yet. But almost …
“A couple of weeks ago, I recorded from home for the first time, and I told my wife and my kids: ‘I’m going to be doing this live report from our backyard. So, try not to come in,” Flores said. “they were outside in the front playing and then, all of a sudden, came barreling in. Maybe a minute before my live shot they’re like running toward the sliding glass door. Their faces are pressed up against the window and they’re like, ‘Can we come out?’ I was like, ‘No! No! No!’ That’s the reality of working from home.”
Flores is passionate about journalism and its importance. Its importance is underscored by what is happening right now, he said. Though the theme of the news has been the same daily, it has provided an opportunity.
“We have to be the representatives of the people — be that voice for them,” he said. “Our jobs are to keep people accountable. We want to see truth. And we also want to be compassionate about it. I think now, with this coronavirus, it’s kind of the switch. We’ve told a lot of humanistic stories of people stepping up to take care of each other.”