Matt Galka‘s secret to success? “Be the same person on TV that you could talk to at a bar,” he says.
The 27-year-old “multimedia journalist” started with Tallahassee’s local CBS affiliate, WCTV, in 2011. He’s now with Capitol News Service, helmed by broadcast veteran Mike Vasilinda, reporting “on the Florida Legislature and politics for more than two million viewers daily,” Galka’s website says.
His work has caught the attention of his peers; he won the “Best Overall” award in 2013 from Florida Associated Press Broadcasters. Galka followed that up with a “Best Continuing Coverage” award for his reporting on the Jameis Winston sexual assault allegations at Florida State in 2014.
Not bad for a Southington, Conn., kid who started as “an overweight football player too big to get on the field,” Galka says. He lost “more than 100 pounds in high school and earn(ed) team captain,” he says, using his story “as motivation to want to tell other great stories out there.”
He graduated from Syracuse University, where he was a walk-on football player, and then got his master’s from Quinnipiac University in Connecticut. He also teaches news and sports reporting classes at Florida State University and Florida A&M University.
Here’s Matt in his own words:
I am … 27 years old.
I live in … Tallahassee, where the magic happens.
I got into politics because … it’s so important, but, sadly, too many people don’t care. Some of that is due to media coverage. I’m not talking about circus Trump coverage, but *traditional* media coverage of politics is usually met with critiques of “boring.” It doesn’t have to be that way. I try to make all of my stories creative, because the issues are important. But the stories don’t have to be boring.
One principle I always put above politics is … honesty. I want to be the same person on TV that you could talk to at a bar. I’m not out there playing some character. It’s important to be honest in a world where so many aren’t.
Person or people who gave me my first shot … Mike Vasilinda plucked me from the local CBS station in Tallahassee because he saw something he liked in my stories.
I’ve already worked for/on (campaign, issues, etc.) … Capitol News Service. You can see all of my work at www.flanews.com and on YouTube by searching “FlaNewsCapitol.”
When I begin a project … I look for the truth. For every story pitch I get, or every bill I cover in committee, etc., I look at each side’s argument and try to present them so that the viewer can find the truth. At the very least, they can form their own opinion.
I’ve been blessed to have these people as my mentors … unfortunately my mentor isn’t from Florida, but my home state of Connecticut. Kevin Nathan is a sports director up there and you should look him up. He sums up how I try to go through my career: It’s OK to have a good time, but when it’s time to work, it’s time to work! And if the product isn’t good enough, let’s find out why and make it better – no excuses.
The people I most admire in politics are … well they probably don’t know this, but print journalists Gary Fineout, John Kennedy, Marc Caputo and Matt Dixon. I’ve gotten to know each of them on very different levels, but a common theme among all of them is they don’t take crap and they give you the story. They’re hard workers, obviously, and even though I’m in TV and they’re in print, they’ve helped me better understand the crazy place we call the Florida Capitol. That’s not a knock on the rest of the Capitol Press Corps and I admire all of them, but those four have helped me tremendously. Also, Kevin Cate. He always comes through, no matter what.
One lesson I’ve already learned is … don’t let your emotions get the better of you. Still working on that one. My coworker, cameraman and friend Mike Exline keeps putting that into perspective for me.
If I wasn’t working in politics, I’d be … working in education. Teachers can make a difference. My mother’s been doing it for 40 years, and I know she’s changed many lives for the better.
In 10 years, you’ll read about me … actually, hopefully, you’ll still be watching me on TV, an iPad, an iWatch … I don’t care. Just keep watching!