Maria Elena Salinas makes her ‘48 Hours’ debut on CBS

Former Univision star Maria Elena Salinas makes her “48 Hours” reporting debut Saturday (10 p.m. on CBS) detailing the 2018 murder of Binghamton University student Haley Anderson — and the ultimate conviction of her killer.

“The way I see it, the types of stories we do in a show like ’48 Hours’ are not morbid — they’re more storytelling and they really do justice to the victim because they’re not able to tell their story,” says Salinas, dubbed “The Voice of Hispanic America” during her 36 years as an anchor/reporter at Univision. “If we didn’t have the opportunity to get to someone like Haley — the brightness she brought to this world and what her loss means to her loved ones — she would be just another statistic.”

The free-spirited Anderson, a nursing student, was murdered in Binghamton in March 2018 by her on-again/off-again boyfriend Orlando Tercero, who fled to his native country of Nicaragua after a botched suicide attempt. He was charged there with “femicide,”  a crime of passion where the perpetrator has had a relationship with the woman he killed.

Tercero’s trial in Nicaragua was made available via a live video feed to the US — enabling prosecutors and witnesses to actively participate.

Salinas and a “48 Hours” crew spent a week in Nicaragua, interviewing Tercero’s friends. “The trip coincided with [Tercero’s] appeal hearing so we were able to sit through the whole hearing and record it and watch it and meet his mother and watch him come in and out,” she says. “While the killing of women is very prevalent in Latin America — I don’t know if it has to do with the ‘machismo’ culture — it’s a very serious problem there.”

This isn’t Salinas’ first true-crime rodeo; she covered many of these cases during her years at Univision and, after leaving there in 2017, as the host of “The Real Story with Maria Elena Salinas,” which ran for two seasons on Investigation Discovery (ID).

She joined CBS News as a contributor last July, reporting for the “CBS Evening News,” “CBS This Morning,” “CBS Sunday Morning” and now “48 Hours.”

“It’s never one thing that makes you take that big step, and to leave your comfort zone is not an easy thing to do,” she says of her departure from Univision. “I didn’t leave to do something else; it was just time to put the brakes on. I wanted to be independent, to work freelance, and if I was going to be doing any kind of reporting it would be longform.

“I wanted to tell the types of stories we told at [Spanish-language] Univision to a different audience in different languages on different platforms,” she says. “After a while, I thought maybe [at Univision] we were preaching to the choir. Latinos are a major part of this country — we’re the largest minority here — and the majority are bilingual, so I think that sector of bilingual Hispanics are underserved in the media when it comes to the types of stories and information they receive.

“I do a lot of civic engagements with the Latino community,” she says. “I’m combining my passion for journalism and my mission empowering and looking out for the Latino community.”

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