News missed the boat on female anchor coverage


News item:  ABC announces that Diane Sawyer will replace Charles Gibson who is retiring as anchor of “World News” the network’s evening news show.

We heartily congratulate the deserving Ms. Sawyer and are appreciative of ABC’s effort to bring more diversity to the news anchor role by appointing a woman.  However, we were dismayed by the vast majority of the news outlets reporting on this occasion that for one reason or another ignored an important fact.

Some stories called Ms. Sawyer the second female anchor that will be on the air.  Katie Couric has served in that role for CBS Evening News since 2006.  Other stories cited the “main” networks and others averted the conversation altogether by citing the “English” language networks.

Of the stories I saw none made mention of Maria Elena Salinas.  For those who are not familiar, since 1988 Ms. Salinas has served as an anchor of the highly rated “Noticiero Univision” one of the most watched evening newscasts on a national broadcast network.  Yes, she’s officially a co-anchor (with Jorge Ramos).  Though that doesn’t diminish for a moment that as an Emmy-award winning anchor who is a highly-respected source of news for millions of Americans she’s handled some of the most challenging assignments in journalism, and chronicled the growth and influence of the Hispanic community in the country.

Like Ms. Sawyer and Ms. Couric, Ms. Salinas began her career covering news with a local market station affiliate. One of the most recognized journalists in the United States, Ms. Salinas has interviewed dozens of world leaders, dictators and political figures including nearly every U.S. President since Jimmy Carter.  Her list of groundbreaking reports include exclusive interviews with  Mexican Presidents , Carlos Salinas de Gortari, Ernesto Zedillo, Vicente Fox and Felipe Calderon; Chile’s Augusto Pinochet, Panamanian strongman Manuel Noriega, Nicaragua’s Daniel Ortega, to name a few.

And yet, due to a rationale the Latino community and I do not understand, she was not allowed to be part of a special moment that recognized the importance and contributions of female news anchors on the national stage.

The reporting about “main” or “major” networks also escapes us all. How is it possible that Univision, one of the top five broadcast networks in America, which regularly bests ABC, CBS, FOX or NBC is not considered a main or major broadcaster?  Isn’t it time for news outlets in this country to start looking at the whole media landscape, even if part of it is in Español?

–Alex Nogales is President and CEO of the National Hispanic Media Coalition