In the Green Room

Journalist Fernanda Santos

The New York Times’ Woman in Phoenix Says Arizona Lawyers Know How to Party

Fernanda Santos

Fernanda Santos covers Arizona and New Mexico as the Phoenix bureau chief for The New York Times. Before moderating a panel on rebuilding neighborhoods after foreclosure, she talked the trials and tribulations of learning Italian, finding the journalist within herself, and how to party with Arizona lawyers in the Zócalo green room.


Q:
What item would you bid for on eBay?

A:
A permanent first-class, round-trip ticket to Brazil, once a year. I’m from there, so that’s my dream.

Q:
What’s your drink of choice?

A:
Red wine. The ones that taste like wood.

Q:
What’s the hardest thing about learning Italian?

A:
I speak Spanish and Portuguese and French, three languages that come from the same root. So the hardest thing is getting my brain to understand that words in Spanish spoken like Italian are not going to cut it.

Q:
Where would we find you at 9:00 on a typical Friday night?

A:
At home, watching Veep. I record it. Or Treme.

Q:
What advice do you wish you’d been given as an aspiring journalist?

A:
Not to aspire to be like other journalists but to find the journalist within myself. There’s too much emphasis on, “Here’s a great writer, he’s a great person,” but very little on, “You don’t have to be like this person, it’s just an example of great writing for you.”

Q:
What did you want to be when you grew up?

A:
One way or another, I always wanted to be a writer. But I talk too much, so journalism was kind of perfect because I can talk and I can write. Writing alone is very lonely and quiet, and I think I would’ve gone crazy—and I’m too curious anyway.

Q:
What’s your favorite thing about Phoenix?

A:
Sunsets! They are amazing! And you can see the sky drop; I could never see that in New York or in Rio de Janeiro, which is where I lived before. It’s just beautiful to see the horizon.

Q:
What was the last great party you attended?

A:
A Christmas party for a Scottsdale law firm. It was at a bar, and it had one of those ’80s acts, one of those one-hit wonders. I don’t remember his name, but it was so much fun. Arizona lawyers are different. Many of them don’t even wear suits.

Q:
What’s your guilty pleasure?

A:
Dark chocolate.

Q:
What’s your favorite quote?

A:
I actually have a favorite quote of all time. If you give me a second I’ll get it on my Blackberry. [OK.] It’s from John Adams: “It is my destiny to dig treasures with my own fingers.”