Executives with Telemundo announced tonight that Los Angeles television newscaster Mirthala Salinas had been suspended without pay for two months — but not dismissed — from KVEA-TV Channel 52 for covering Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa while they were romantically involved, a relationship that journalism experts said damaged the station’s credibility.
Three of Salinas’ superiors also were disciplined, including KVEA’s top two station officials. General Manager Manuel Abud was reassigned to another position, and News Director Al Corral was suspended for two months without pay.
Ibra Morales, president of the Telemundo station group, which oversees 16 of the network’s Spanish-language stations, was reprimanded in the unfolding scandal that network President Don Browne called "a flagrant violation" of KVEA’s own journalistic standards.
In an internal memo to KVEA staff, Browne said that "while the content and accuracy of KVEA’s newscasts were not compromised, our news policy standards with respect to conflict of interest were clearly violated."
…Media watchdogs assailed Telemundo’s decision not to fire Salinas, calling her journalistic breach extreme enough to warrant the most serious discipline.
The experts said the scandal focused attention on the sometimes fuzzy relationship between Spanish-language media outlets and the Latino politicians they cover. The outlets have been known to embrace political figures as community pillars while covering them as public figures.
…"Everyone knew — cameramen knew, the producers knew and the reporters all knew," said one Telemundo executive, who spoke on the condition he not be identified because he was not authorized to comment. "This is a very small business."
Eric Longabardi is going to report on ERSnews.com that the investigation covered the time from late 2005 to July 5. That’s all. It didn’t cover Salinas and Fabian Nunez. It didn’t cover Salinas and Alex Padilla. It didn’t cover Salinas and other powerful men, including those at Telemundo/NBC.
Telemundo has a book of standards and practices. Salinas clearly violated the conflict of interest provision.
The Poynter Institute was used unpaid to advise on the case and therefore won’t comment about it.
As for the comment about this damaging Telemundo credibility, who says Telemundo has credibility in the first place?