In honor of Women’s History Month, I want to highlight Maria Elena Salinas, a woman who has inspired me in many ways. In the world of journalism, Maria Elena Salinas has continually broken barriers, overcome obstacles, and inspired generations. Recognized as one of the most influential Latina journalists in the United States, Salinas has worked tirelessly to leave her mark and pave the way for future generations of aspiring journalists. Maria Elena Salinas’ remarkable career has left a lasting impact on journalism and the Latino community. She has earned numerous awards and accolades and she continues to represent a voice for the voiceless.
“I learned to tell stories from unheard voices, from the nameless Mexicans of my childhood streets. They spoke to me like my mother had spoken, in tender phrases that only hinted of the epic peregrinations they endured.”
— Maria Elena Salinas
Award-Winning Journalism Career
Maria Elena Salinas was born on August 27, 1954, in Los Angeles, California, to a family of Mexican immigrants. From a young age, Salinas was captivated by the world of journalism, knowing that this was her dream career. Upon graduating from California State University with a Bachelor’s degree in Journalism, Salinas began her journey to becoming one of the most influential journalists of her time.
Salinas first joined the Univision team in 1981, making history as the youngest reporter at the Spanish-speaking television station, KMEX. She would go on to co-host the nation’s first-ever Spanish-language newscast, “Noticiero Univision,” for more than 36 years with her partner Jorge Ramos. During her tenure at Univision, Salinas not only shaped the way the news was delivered to the Hispanic community but also contributed significantly to the network’s success as the premiere Spanish-language outlet in the United States.
Maria Elena Salinas has not only excelled as a journalist but also broke barriers along the way, inspiring Latinos across the nation. As an advocate for the Latino community, Salinas always made it her mission to provide fair, accurate, and unbiased reporting on issues affecting her community. She consistently showcased her passion for immigration reform and education, even producing her own documentary, “Entre El Abandono y El Rechazo” (Between Abandonment and Rejection), which focused on the lives of unaccompanied minors who crossed the border seeking refuge in the United States.
Throughout her illustrious career, Salinas has earned numerous recognitions and awards for her exceptional work in journalism. She is the first Latina to receive a Lifetime Achievement Emmy from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences in 2012, as well as being inducted into the National Association of Broadcasters’ Broadcasting Hall of Fame in 2019. Alongside these incredible accolades, Maria Elena Salinas has received the coveted Walter Cronkite Award for Excellence in Journalism and multiple Silver Circle Awards, to name a few.
Despite her extraordinary accomplishments, Maria Elena Salinas remains humble and dedicated to her craft. In September 2017, Salinas left her longtime position at Univision, embarking on a new journey with her return to English-language television by joining CBS News as a contributor. A true role model for aspiring journalists, Salinas continues to break barriers and open doors for women, particularly Latinas, in the often male-dominated world of journalism.
Advocate for Women’s Rights
In addition to her journalistic work, Salinas has been an active advocate for women’s rights throughout her career—particularly with regard to immigration issues. She often speaks out about Immigrant Domestic Violence (IDV) cases and has partnered with organizations such as Mujeres Latinas en Acción (MLA) to help support victims affected by IDV. In 2007, she published, I Am My Father’s Daughter: Living Life Without Secrets—a memoir about how she made a space for her voice in a male-dominated industry crediting so much to her hard-working parents. It includes first-hand accounts of some of her most famous interviews with world leaders.
Maria Elena Salinas’ memoir has touched me in a deep way. As a writer myself, I’ve always believed that books have the power to inspire and create a deeper understanding of the world around us. Reading about Salinas’ journey toward resilience and her passion for storytelling has truly been a revelation. Her ability to convey her message on a larger scale through her personal experiences is powerful and has motivated me in the pursuit of my own passions. Her book has inspired me to be more honest and vulnerable in my writing, allowing me to share my message with others. It’s a true testament to the power of storytelling and how it can positively transform the lives of so many.
Inspired to live boldly
As a fellow Latina, I have been profoundly inspired by the fearless tenacity of Maria Elena Salinas, who has used her powerful voice to bring awareness to difficult social issues. Growing up in a time where women were often silenced, her groundbreaking work in journalism has provided a beacon of hope, motivating me to not only raise my voice but also to use it as a tool for breaking the chains of oppression. Salinas has demonstrated the indispensable value of empowering our society to confront the evils lurking in the shadows – sexual abuse chief among them – and to stand up for justice, healing, and recovery.
Her fearless approach to addressing sensitive issues has resonated with me as I’ve experienced firsthand the consequences of silence amongst victims. Her ability to approach these topics with empathy and grace has empowered me to continue to be an advocate and raise awareness around painful experiences like sexual abuse. With gratitude to her trailblazing spirit, I am determined to continue amplifying the voices of those affected by sexual abuse in our community, in hopes of breaking the stigmas and promoting healing for all.
Maria Elena Salinas has stood out as an extraordinary force in the world of journalism, making a lasting impact on not only the industry but also the lives of countless Latinos in the United States. Her unwavering dedication to fair and accurate reporting, advocacy for the Latino community, and breaking barriers for women in journalism have branded Salinas as a trailblazer and an inspiration to aspiring journalists and storytellers everywhere. As we celebrate her career and accomplishments to date, we eagerly anticipate her continued success in her mission to give a voice to the voiceless. Cheers to just one amazing woman this Women’s History Month!