Journalist María Elena Salinas closed a celebrated chapter in the history of television in the United States on Friday when she co-anchored her last evening news broadcast on Univision after 36 years.
Several generations of Latinos have been kept abreast of the news through the voice and face of Salinas. She has interviewed world leaders, covered numerous historic events, given voice to millions of immigrants, hosted presidential debates and helped the formation of young Hispanic journalists.
The 63-year-old Mexican-American, has received dozens of awards and recognitions - including three national Emmys - and has appeared on multiple lists of the most influential Hispanics in the nation. Recently, however, she said that what honors her most are not the awards, but the bond created with the Hispanic community over all these years.
Randy Falco, President and CEO of Univision Communications bade farewell to salinas in a note to the company's employees on Friday. "Having spent more than 40 years in media, I have had the pleasure of working with some of the most iconic personalities and journalists in the business – but few more remarkable than María Elena Salinas," he wrote. "María Elena has had a lasting impact in our industry, on the Hispanic community and our News organization," he added.
In recent days, thousands of social media users have shared messages of gratitude under the slogan #GraciasMariaElena.
Born in Los Angeles, California, the daughter of Mexican parents, she began her career as a journalist and news anchor in 1981 at KMEX, the first Spanish-language television station in the Californian city, from which Univision would later be born.
In photos: María Elena Salinas: a life dedicated to journalism
In the announcement of her departure, Salinas explained that in 2018 she intends to work as a journalist and independent producer, and continue her philanthropic work.
Behind the scenes, it's been an unusual last week in the newsroom of Univision News. Producers, cameramen, correspondents and former interns, all have an anecdote or an old photograph with the presenter to share.
Jorge Ramos, her on screen partner for almost three decades, wrote a heartfelt column in which Salinas's professionalism stood out: "I do not exaggerate when saying that she is obsessed with facts and the truth."
"As I always tell young people, fight for their dreams, do not give up, now it's my turn to practice what I preach, to do things that I've dreamed of doing for many years," she said.
On Monday, Colombian journalist Ilia Calderón will take the anchor chair of Noticiero Univision with Jorge Ramos.