By Jack Rico
One of the news anchors of Univision News’ primetime team, Maria Elena Salinas, is leaving the company after 30 years at the desk. Her last day will be at the end of 2017. Word is Jorge Ramos will be partnerless until a new female anchor is announced. Salinas will also be leaving behind “Aqui y Ahora,” Univision’s equivalent of CBS’ 60 Minutes.
According to a Univision rep, Salinas is not available for media interviews at the moment of this writing. There are many questions still unanswered… Why is she really leaving? What triggered her departure? Where is she going? Is she really leaving to pursue in the footsteps of Soledad O’ Brien? Or does Salinas already have a job lined up with an English-language media outlet such as her own show “The Real Story with Maria Elena Salinas” on Investigation Discovery? Is it perhaps another such as CNN, NBC, MSNBC or CBS? It’s not a stretch to assume Salinas is interested in exploring the English-language space. She has to see the future of the Hispanic market and it’s clearly not in Spanish. It’s heading towards English and at a rapid pace.
CBS’ 60 Minutes would be a great place for Salinas to land. The news program has never featured an Hispanic, let alone a female Hispanic journalist. She brings with her tremendous credentials, gravitas, an ease for English, and a high recognition factor of over 30 years at Univision. It’s time 60 Minutes diversifies it’s talent pool and Salinas would be a perfect fit into the pantheon of CBS’ journalists.
Here’s Univision CEO Randy Falco’s note to staff announcing the news:
I am writing to inform you that after an extraordinary career devoted to shining a spotlight on the issues and events that matter most to the Hispanic community, María Elena Salinas has decided to leave her post as anchor of Univision News at the end of 2017.
María Elena has made an indelible mark on American television and for a generation of Hispanics who have come to rely and trust her fearless pursuit of truth. Since her early days at Univision’s KMEX in Los Angeles, her keen insight into the issues that affect Latinos has made her a valued and trusted source of news and information in the community. Attached is the external announcement with additional information. In the coming months, we will announce plans for the new anchor who will join Jorge Ramos on our flagship newscast and plans for the co-host who will join Teresa Rodriguez on our weekly newsmagazine show Aqui y Ahora.
When María Elena was named anchor of our national newscast in 1987, she broke new ground on multiple fronts. During her tenure, her work as anchor, her role as co-host of “Aquí y Ahora,” multiple news specials and public affairs shows, along with her community outreach to Hispanics, have made her one of the most respected and influential voices in America. Her many interviews of heads of state and other newsmakers, coverage of breaking news and her spotlight on immigrant issues made her a household name among generations of viewers.
Her unforgettable story “Entre el abandono y el rechazo” (Between Abandonment and Rejection) about the arrival of thousands of unaccompanied minors to the U.S. earned her some of journalism’s top accolades, including the Peabody, Walter Cronkite, Emmy and Gracie awards. Among many other distinctions, she received the Lifetime Achievement Emmy from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences and was named to the National Association of Broadcasters 2017 Hall of Fame. She will be inducted into the Broadcasting & Cable Hall of Fame on October 17.
I would like to thank María Elena for all she has done for UCI and the community we serve. Please join me in wishing her the best as she prepares to open a new chapter in her professional life.
Here’s Univision’s official statement released Thursday night to the press:
NEW YORK – AUGUST 3, 2017 – María Elena Salinas, an influential voice in television and Hispanic America for more than three decades, announced today that she plans to leave the Univision News anchor chair at the end of the year.
Salinas, the daughter of Mexican immigrants, went on to host Univision Network’s national evening newscast and report momentous stories for generations of Hispanic Americans over a long and distinguished career. Her departure from Univision after more than 35 years will end an era that has left an indelible mark on American television and Hispanics in the United States, for whom listening to her poised, informed and empathetic voice has long been a nightly ritual. Salinas, winner of top journalism honors and dubbed the “Voice of Hispanic America” by The New York Times, also co-hosts the Sunday show “Aquí y Ahora” (Here and Now) and presents several in-depth specials on current issues each year. Starting next January, she plans to begin her next chapter, working independently as a journalist and producer, and continuing to devote herself to philanthropy.
“I am grateful for having had the privilege to inform and empower the Latino community through the work my colleagues and I do with such passion at Univision every day,” said Salinas. “I thank our audience for their trust and loyalty through the years, and want them to know that as long as I have a voice, I will always use it to speak on their behalf. I am excited to begin a new stage in my career, and look forward to new projects to reach new and diverse audiences on multiple platforms.”
Randy Falco, President and Chief Executive Officer of Univision Communications Inc., said, “María Elena has become an iconic and trusted source of unfiltered news. She is a fearless storyteller who has relentlessly pursued the truth, no matter what the dangers may be. We celebrate her groundbreaking work, her passion and commitment to journalism. María Elena has had a lasting impact in our industry and on the Hispanic community, and we wish her all the best.”
Daniel Coronell, President of Univision News, said, “María Elena has been a great example of journalistic excellence and solidarity with the community. There has never been, nor will there ever be, another journalist like her at our Network. Her inspiring example will continue to guide the journalists of Univision News.”
In the coming months, Univision will announce plans for the new anchor who will join Jorge Ramos on its flagship newscast, which regularly reaches two million viewers, and plans for the co-host who will join Teresa Rodriguez on our weekly newsmagazine show “Aquí y Ahora.”
Salinas was inducted into the National Association of Broadcasters 2017 Hall of Fame and will be inducted into the Broadcasting & Cable Hall of Fame on October 17, 2017. Among the many awards she has received throughout her career are seven Emmy awards, along with the Broadcast Legend Award from the Radio and Television News Association of Southern California and the Mickey Leland Humanitarian Award. She was the first Latina to receive a Lifetime Achievement Emmy from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.
Salinas was also honored by Broadcasting & Cable/Multichannel News with the Outstanding Achievement Award in Hispanic Television and was part of a Univision News team that received an Edward R. Murrow Award. She has received honorary doctoral degrees from American University and California State University, Fullerton.
Salinas was born and raised in Los Angeles. She studied marketing in college, and in 1981, after two years in radio, she joined KMEX, a Los Angeles television station operated by the company that would later become Univision. Her keen insight into the issues that affected the Latino community in Southern California earned her credibility and paved her way to the top. In 1987, she broke new ground on multiple fronts when she was named anchor of the premiere Spanish-language network news program in the United States.
Throughout her career at Univision, Salinas has covered history in the making. She has interviewed dozens of world leaders, including every past U.S. president since Jimmy Carter, rebel leaders, celebrities and other newsmakers. She has traveled the world covering wars and elections, coups and human rights issues, natural disasters and human-interest stories. In addition to her role in news specials and the popular weekly news magazine “Aquí y Ahora,” Salinas has headlined programs on the issues that most affect the Latino community.
One of her most impactful stories was “Entre el abandono y el rechazo” (“Between Abandonment and Rejection”), a hard-hitting primetime special about the arrival of thousands of unaccompanied minors to the U.S. She crisscrossed Central America and the border, interviewing key figures in the crisis and walking the streets of poor and dangerous neighborhoods to find the roots of the exodus. The investigative piece became the first Spanish-language special to earn several of journalism’s top accolades, including the Peabody, Walter Cronkite, Emmy and Gracie awards.
In 2004, Salinas was a moderator of the first ever bilingual Democratic Party presidential debate and later co-hosted forums with candidates from both parties on Univision as well as a Democratic debate in 2016. Her community outreach work includes promoting civic participation among Hispanics by encouraging them to become citizens, register to vote and take part in the political process. She is a founding member of The National Association of Hispanic Journalists, through which she has awarded scholarships in her name to Latino journalism students. Salinas also is a member of the Hispanic Scholarship Fund board.
For more in-depth information on Maria Elena Salinas’s departure from Univision, listen to our Highly Relevant Podcast with Jack Rico this upcoming Friday.