Sibila Vargas joined NBC 4 New York in October 2013. She co-anchors the 6 and 11 p.m news.
Before coming to NBC 4 New York, Vargas worked at KCBS in Los Angeles, where she was the weekday anchor for their early newscasts. During her tenure, the morning newscast received a Golden Mike Award. Vargas covered several breaking news stories including Japan’s 2010 devastating 9.0 earthquake and tsunami, and the manhunt for rogue ex-cop, Christopher Dorner.
Before joining KCBS, Vargas co-anchored the weekday morning newscast at KRIV, where she was recognized by the Texas Associated Press for her work behind the desk.
Vargas also served as an anchor, producer and correspondent at CNN, where she provided regular reports for “Anderson Cooper 360” and “The Situation Room.” She has also guest co-hosted ABC’s “The View,” reported for KTLA in Los Angeles, and hosted TV Guide Channel’s “Hollywood Insider” and Paramount TV’s “Real TV.” She began her career in broadcasting as a news writer and producer for WPIX in New York.
In July 2012, at a ceremony attended by thousands in Washington, D.C., Vargas, in recognition of her influence and contributions, was one of only 20 Dominican-Americans to become a member of the Dominican American National Roundtable’s “Dominican List.”
The New York native graduated cum laude from Long Island University, with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Journalism and Minor in Psychology. Fluent in Spanish, Sibila has strong ties to the Latino community and has been recognized by the Latin Business Association and the Latino Lawyers Association.
A wife and mother of two young boys, Vargas is passionate about children’s issues and served on the Board for Children At Risk, a non-profit organization dedicated to improving the lives of children.
LatinTRENDS had the pleasure to speak with Sibila about her passion for journalism and her love for her Dominican culture.
LatinTRENDS: Were you born here or born in the Dominican Republic?
Sibila Vargas: I was born here, in Queens.
LT: Have you traveled to the Dominican Republic before?
SV: Oh yes, many, many times. When I was a kid I would travel there at least once a year and then every two years.
LT: What is it that you love about being Dominican?
SV: I love the culture. I love the sense of pride that we have as Dominicans. I love the fact that every time people go to visit Dominican Republic they always have nice things to say about the people there. They are the friendliest people that you’ll ever meet.
LT: Where did your name derive from?
SV: My mother interestingly named me Sibila. I didn’t know that growing up so when I was in school here in the school system my name being Vargas was always the last one on roll call and I was always scared because I knew somebody was going to butcher the name Sibila. They’d go down the line and be like Vargas uh? They didn’t know how to pronounce it.
LT: How did you know you had a passion for broadcast journalism?
SV: I loved writing. As a kid my two big loves were writing and drawing so I was very creative and I knew I wanted to pick a profession where I could get paid writing, doing what I love. And then more I researched what journalism was about I really loved the ideology of it, what it represented. The fact that we have this responsibility towards people which also I absolutely love. So I just thought it was an honorable profession to pursue and I’m glad I did.
LT: What drove you to pursue your dreams?
SV: I was always very ambitious as a kid. I was always striving to do well in school and again I loved writing. And I wanted to be a writer and I knew that the best way to get there was through my education. And then shortly after college I went to try to pursue my dreams and I worked at WPIX and I also worked at the New York Post for a little bit because quite frankly I had no aspirations to be in front of the camera, I just really wanted to write.
So the New York Post was one of my first jobs and I was basically running around like a copy kid, a gofer, and learned a lot from all the writers there. There was a story at the time, the Colombian drug cartel that was really huge and I had the opportunity to translate a lot of the conversation because of my Spanish. So I worked with the great Mike McAlary at the New York Post, a great columnist and started to go up the ranks but I was also working at WPIX and they offered me an opportunity to write right away I ended up working there. They offered me a full time job as well, so thus began my broadcast journalism career.
LT: How did you start your career with NBC?
SV: Well, it was a long road. I was working at CNN then I moved to Los Angeles. I was working for several stations there. I eventually moved to Houston for a little bit and I did morning news cast anchoring there. I went back to Los Angeles and worked for CBS and then I heard there might be an interest at NBC in New York which of course is my hometown and I was just thrilled at the possibility of working at NBC which I had grown up watching. It was my favorite channel and I never had the opportunity to work at NBC but I knew that it was a station that fit my personality best so the fact that there was an opportunity just thrilled me. And then eventually as my contract with CBS came up the move to NBC became a reality and that’s how I’m here.
LT: What journalists do you look up to?
SV: I look up to many journalists. There’s Anderson Cooper, I must say that one of my role models is Sue Simmons. As I was growing up I think that she was by far one of the best anchorwomen. So the fact that I’m working at NBC in this position I’m just delighted, I’m honored and I’m humbled by it.
LT: Is there a particular story that stands out that you’ve covered?
SV: There are many stories. I gravitate towards anything that has to do with children. Even just recently the Avonte Oquendo story as a mother and even before I was a mother I always gravitated towards children and children at risk. But I think that working a story like let’s say Hurricane Sandy, I wasn’t here at the time but when I was in Houston I covered Hurricane Ike and I think that stories like that get to the heart of what it is that we do as journalists. I mean that’s where I felt that my services were used to the utmost. During that time people died, there were floods, there was devastation and people needed us more than ever. And I think as a journalist it’s stories like that that has the most impact on people that are the most important for us and that’s where I think that we as journalists are serving our society.
LT: What would you say to those who also want to pursue a career in journalism?
SV: Well I would say to be very passionate, you have to be very passionate. I think they should do their best in school. Like I spoke to someone yesterday, we are always learning in this profession. Every day there’s something new. Everyday I’m learning about some politician or some situation which I’m unaware of so I think that it behooves the student to always try to learn and try to engage because that’s another thing this is a communications field, so when you’re in school I would say to a future journalist to pay attention to your teachers, to engage your teachers, to be that kid in front of the class being part of the conversation because that’s really how it’s going to be when you get out here. You’re going to have to be a people person, you’re going to have to communicate and you’re going to be learning every day.
LT: Do you look for stories to cover yourself or do you have writers that help you?
SV: Right now I have a lot of writers that help me with that but I think eventually, I’m still kind of new here, eventually I’ll start venturing out and finding stories I know are really good for me that fit me well and that I’m very passionate about.
LT: Any other passions besides journalism?
SV: My children, my family, reading, I like to read and also my faith. That is a huge passion for me.