Demoting one or two Latino anchors may be a coincidence, but "demoting five in the past year raises suspicions," writes Julio Moran, executive director of CCNMA: Latino Journalists of California, in a letter to KNBC president and general manager Craig Robinson. Last month's shift of Ana Garcia from the 6 p.m. anchor chair to the investigative beat has been the most high-profile demotion of a Latino at the station lately. If Robinson cares to do anything about it, he just got the right title. He's leaving Channel 4 to become chief diversity officer for all of NBC. Announced Wednesday, his job change has its own coincidence attached. He's succeeding Paula Madison, herself a former station manager at KNBC.
What happens now at KNBC will be interesting to watch. Garcia's demotion and the other moves Moran mentions in his letter have the station's staff in a bit of turmoil. Also, Comcast's new president of NBC Local Media, Valari Dobson Staab, was in Burbank recently and reportedly told a meeting of staffers that the station has become notoriously sloppy on the air. Dobson Staab also rebuked the apparently unpopular VP and news director, Vickie Burns, by killing her pet digital project and the midday show "Daily Connection." One Channel 4 insider offers another note about Burns: she doesn't drive, and some in the newsroom think that's why Channel 4 didn't have a coverage plan for Carmageddon until hours before the freeway closure.
Moran's letter is after the jump.
August 3, 2011
Mr. Craig Robinson
President and General Manager
3000 W. Alameda
Burbank, CA 91523
Dear Mr. Robinson:
On behalf of the CCNMA: Latinos Journalists of California, I am writing you to express my concern about the recent demotions or removal of five Latino anchors.
Unlike other major markets in this country, Los Angeles is a market where nearly half the population is Latino. It is important—and good business—to have anchors who look like your audience. For too long, Latinos have been relegated to secondary anchor positions. Removing Ana Garcia as an anchor on your 6 p.m. newscast was bad enough, but your station has also removed Latino anchors form your midday show (Kim Baldonado) and from weekend evenings (Andy Adler and Pablo Pierera). Your station has even removed an anchor from the digital world (Mekahlo Medina).
Demoting one or two Latino anchors may be a coincidence; demoting five in the past year raises suspicions.
As you may know, KNBC in 1994 was accused of bias against Latino journalists when five Latino anchors and reporters left the station. Since that time, the Latino population in the market has grown even larger, as has the need for more visible Latinos at your station.
Last year, Comcast and NBCU signed a Memorandum of Understanding with several Latino advocacy organizations pledging to set a higher standard for the media industry. Comcast and NBCU committed to “….retain more Latinos so that the workforces more accurately reflect the communities they serve.”
Removing Latino anchors from the more visible anchor positions is a step in the wrong direction.
I hope that you will direct your attention to remedy this matter.
cc: Mr. Stephen Burke, COO, Comcast
Mr. David L. Cohen, EVP and Chief Diversity Officer, Comcast
Ms. Valari Dobson Staab, President, NBC Local Media Group
Ms. Janet Murgia, National Council of La Raza
Board members of the group include Luz Villareal of "Dateline NBC" here in Los Angeles, Sid Garcia of KABC-TV, Eleanore Vega of CBS News here and Martin Plascencia of Telemundo. CCNMA is the group formerly known as California Chicano News Media Association.