Nearly two months after the National Hispanic Media Coalition (NHMC) called upon the American Latino community and communities of conscience to boycott CBS This Morning and CBS Evening News broadcasts in the wake of Latino exclusion in anchor and correspondent roles in New York City, CBS News’ president and senior executive producer Susan Zirinsky announced in a press release that former longtime Univision newscaster Maria Elena Salinas has been hired as a contributor across CBS’ broadcasts and platforms, and to frequently take part in the 2020 election coverage.
NHMC announced the viewer boycott on May 29, 2019 after Zirinsky overhauled CBS News in part to help boost the network’s ratings, which have lagged behind ABC and NBC. Back then, the racial/ethnic makeup of the new co-anchors and four correspondents were two African Americans, one Haitian/French, and the rest were Caucasian.
In a phone conversation with Zirinsky on May 23, 2019, Alex Nogales, president and CEO of the NHMC, said Zirinsky explained that she was not able to “find” a Latino to fill any one of those new spots, even though at the time CBS News had 6 Latino correspondents out of 78 on-camera journalists, which equals to 7.6% of their staff roster. After Zirinsky asked Nogales if the Latino community could assist her in locating a Latino to fill an on-air role, Nogales refused by saying “he has heard this excuse before” and that Zirinsky “deliberately overlooked” many “qualified Latino journalists” who could fill a top job in New York City as a correspondent or anchor. Nogales asserted that this exclusion was not a case of “unconscious bias.”
Meanwhile, other Latino civil rights organizations have also contacted the NHMC over their concerns about the overall exclusion of Latinos at CBS News. NHMC is in collaboration with these organizations to continue to put pressure and hold Zirinsky accountable for not fully embracing diversity and inclusion at the top tiers of the network in New York City.
Alex Nogales, NHMC president and CEO, has issued the following statement:
“Hiring Maria Elena Salinas, one of the most respected and trusted news sources in the U.S., is a hopeful start to increase on-camera representation at CBS, and we congratulate Maria Elena in her new and important role.
“However, hiring one outstanding journalist in the field after the network’s overhaul in May is simply not enough. Zirinsky must hire a Latino correspondent or anchor on either CBS This Morning or CBS Evening News, which is taped out of their main studios in New York City – a highly desirable location every talent aspires to work at.
We need to see our community, and other communities of color, represented at that level, on-air and behind the anchor desk in order to have real and adequate representation at the network. Until then, NHMC will continue to call for a viewer boycott of CBS News broadcasts.”