Is Telemundo Silencing Investigative Journalism in Southern California?

Rosa Gudiel's case on her fight against Bank of America to defend her home in Los Angeles was picked up by national media thanks in large part to Telemundo 52 breaking the story. Investigative reporters such as Vicky Gutierrez, now terminated, were early on the scene. Click on the screen shot to access MSNBC's Kari Huus' report.

Telemundo 52 has been showing a disturbing trend of silencing reporting on issues that the local community cares about. Last year Telemundo 52 cancelled “En Contexto” with Ruben Luengas, a news magazine style show that aired weeknights at 11:00PM. It was a top-rated show that increased ratings and market share for Telemundo by showcasing in-depth investigative reporting on critical issues of interest to the communities of Southern California. Here’s a clip:

The show, labeled as the ‘Democracy Now!‘ of the Latino community by some, proved itself to be a runaway success to the network because it set itelf apart from the rest of the local late night news programming in Spanish. Ruben Luengas is still with Telemundo but has been relegated to a curtailed role in the network.

Telemundo 52 has now silenced more voices that have a track record of reporting important community issues. After working 10 years at Telemundo, award-winning Vicky Gutierrez was recently terminated without any explanation, along with four other reporters. In 2009, Vicky Gutierrez received a National Ethnic Media Award for her “Farm Kids” story. Via New America Media:

We came across this little girl who was pregnant, working in the fields, who was denied a break, she was denied water and she ended up at the hospital,” says Gutierrez. “When she felt ill in the field where she was working, they didn’t let her family take her to the hospital, or call 911, because they knew that they would be in trouble because she was underage.”

In interviews with current farm workers, including one boy who appears to be underage, “Farm Kids” probes the case of Maria Isabel in the context of the continued use of underage workers in California’s agricultural fields. “Unfortunately, what we saw in this story is still happening right now in the fields of the whole country, not only California,” said Gutierrez. “There are lots of kids, underage minors, who are not only working, but are being abused.”

The [Telemundo report on the] case of Maria Isabel sparked a crackdown on farm labor contractors across California for failing to provide adequate shade and water for farm workers, and for employing underage workers. In April 2009, three former operators of Merced Farm Labor were charged with involuntary manslaughter in Maria Isabel’s death.”

This is but one of the many examples of the stories of interest that Vicky Gutierrez, Ruben Luengas, and other key reporters at Telemundo highlighted in the community that drove record ratings in key demographics to the network.

Yet, it would appear that new out-of-state management recently brought in to manage Telemundo in Southern California insists that the local community doesn’t care about stories like the “Farm Kids” story or other similar in-depth style of reporting. Is this a case of out-of-touch management views driving that network’s viewership into a ditch? We certainly hope not.

Update: sign this petition to tell NBCUniversal, owner of Telemundo 52, to reinstate investigative reporting!