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Editorial: Mirthala Salinas Affair Merited Tougher Punishment

Sep 30, 2007  •  Post A Comment

It was the end of an ugly affair for Telemundo’s Los Angeles news division last week. NBC Universal’s Telemundo reassigned Mirthala Salinas, the KVEA-TV newscaster who was dating Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa as she covered his administration. She was banished to a bureau in the dreary hinterlands of the city’s suburbs as a reprimand for violating journalistic ethics. Earlier, Ms. Salinas had been suspended without pay for two months.
The punishment, while more than a slap on the wrist, wasn’t strong enough to prove that the station and the network are committed to being leaders in broadcast news ethics.
The Salinas affair left a trail of bruised careers in its wake. Ibra Morales, who oversees the Telemundo network’s 16 Spanish-
language stations, received a reprimand. KVEA General Manager Manuel Abud lost his job and hasn’t been reassigned within the network. KVEA News Director Al Corral, who will return to work today, was suspended without pay.
To the extent that Ms. Salinas didn’t fully disclose the nature of her relationship with the mayor to her supervisors in a timely manner, she deserves strong disciplinary action. To the extent that her supervisors didn’t pursue the facts about her relationship with the mayor, they deserve punishment.
The punishments were handed out after Telemundo mounted an internal review of the matter. While the results of that inquiry aren’t public, the resulting punishments indicate that Telemundo’s highest executives thought there was plenty of blame to go around, from Ms. Salinas to the upper reaches of the company’s management.
The tale of Ms. Salinas’ journalistic indiscretion is salted with cringe-inducing anecdotes, including a newscast in which she delivered the story of the mayor’s divorce from his wife. It was a low moment for television journalism, trampling the ethical guidelines set out by the Society of Professional Journalists.
Those guidelines state that journalists should avoid conflicts of interest, real or perceived, and should disclose unavoidable conflicts.
Ms. Salinas broad-jumped over the ethical line. She betrayed the trust of the viewers in a profound way.
It’s not always easy to balance journalistic duties when they collide with personal matters. But the outrage that has accompanied this indiscretion reflects the importance of those ethical guidelines.
In the end, memories will fade, KVEA’s reputation will heal and Ms. Salinas’ career probably will recover. But Telemundo and the station could have accelerated that redemption by handing out a harsher punishment.

One Comment

  1. Dreamin. I love blogging. You all express your feelings the right way, because they are your feeling, focus on your blog it is great.

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