Salinas, Telemundo execs suspended

Mirthala Salinas gets two months without pay for reading the news stories about Mayor Villaraigosa's marital breakup, but will keep her job at Telemundo 52. She apparently informed superiors about her relationship with Villaraigosa and agreed to stop covering the mayor at the end of 2006, according to an internal memo from Telemundo president Don Browne. Channel 52 general manager Manuel Abud was reassigned to another position, news director Al Corral was suspended for two months without pay, and Telemundo official Ibra Morales, who oversees the network's 16 Spanish-language stations, was reprimanded.

Villaraigosa, for his part, apologized again via statement:

I regret that decisions I have made in my personal life have been a distraction for the city, and I am deeply sorry that I have let so many people down, especially my family.

He had no other comment on the Telemundo news, which was aired on the network's news broadcast tonight. Memo below:

As many of you are aware, we have been dealing recently with a situation that raised the possibility that our news policy guidelines were violated at KVEA. The past several weeks have been spent gathering information regarding this matter. It has been a thorough investigation, which has included valuable input from faculty of the Poynter Institute, a leading independent authority on ethics in journalism. Iím writing to let you know that our investigation has been completed and we have determined the appropriate course of action.

First, let me emphasize that while the content and accuracy of KVEAís newscasts were not compromised, our news policy standards with respect to conflict of interest were clearly violated.

At the end of 2006, KVEA management and the stationís political reporter mutually agreed that she should be reassigned to a beat that would not involve reporting on the Mayor of Los Angeles or city politics. This decision, consistent with our guidelines, was made on the basis of a friendship that had developed between the reporter and the Mayor. In April 2007, she was given the role of temporary news anchor and read lead-ins and other materials involving stories on the Mayor and politics. This decision conflicted with our guidelines and with managementís prior decision. Subsequent to this, her reading of copy during newscasts on June 8 and June 11 regarding the Mayorís separation from his wife was a flagrant violation of these guidelines. The failure to respond appropriately in the following weeks further compounded these errors.

In response to these violations and a lack of leadership and vigilance required to protect the credibility and reputation of our news product, we have taken disciplinary action affecting several employees. These actions include formal reprimands, job reassignments, and unpaid suspensions.

Moving forward, we are taking steps at the station to re-emphasize the importance of strict adherence to our existing news policies and guidelines by engaging a well-respected journalistic organization to conduct mandatory training sessions at KVEA.

It has been a difficult time for all involved in this investigation but I know it will result in our being a stronger news organization and leave no doubt about our commitment to journalistic integrity.

We have a great organization that understands the public trust we hold as journalists. Our lesson here is that upholding our own high standards of conduct requires constant vigilance. I know this incident will not detract us from our commitment to excellence in journalism.


Links: Times, NBC 4, Daily News

More by Kevin Roderick:
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The Media
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LA Observed Notes: Harvey Weinstein stripped bare
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