“I am proud to announce I have accepted a Reporter/VJ [video journalist] position with News 8 Austin,” Salazar said. “Gone are the days of news gathering from behind the camera. I will now use all my talent, to the best of my ability, to deliver responsible broadcast journalism, in front of the camera. Wish me good luck.” Scores of people immediately responded.
“I will miss KEYE,” Salazar says. “I’m glad for all of the opportunities they gave me.”
Salazar was a bundle of creative energy from the moment he hit Austin a decade or so ago at KXAN TV (NBC) after a short stint as an editor at KTBC (Fox). Then, he took his talents to KEYE TV (CBS) in 2006 as the photographer for the investigative unit and finally chief photographer. His knowledge of Austin news is deep and his contacts are many.
In this space in the past six months, I’ve written three times about Salazar’s obvious talents beyond photography. First, at the grueling and gruesome shootings at Fort Hood last November 5th:
“The best live shot I saw the evening of the shootings, however, was by a chief photographer for an Austin station here. He was calm, succinct, cogent, and informative. He also has more experienced than most of the reporters.” – newsmcnabb, November 10, 2009.
“As I posted before, the best live shot the evening of the shootings was by an experienced journalist who is usually behind the camera, KEYE TV (CBS) chief photographer John Salazar was succinct, accurate, and informative.” – newsmcnabb, November, 16, 2009.
Again, in the flux of reporting the suicide by plane into a North Austin office building used by the Internal Revenue Service I wrote, “Another multifaceted pro, mentioned here before, is KEYE-TV’s (CBS) chief photographer John Salazar. Once again, Salazar, gathering in all of the information and images in his mind, several times delivered the most complete, concise, and cogent descriptions of the events ON CAMERA. No telling what he was doing with his camera when he wasn’t live. Salazar’s live reports were better than any reporter. Once, the station pitched to him just as a news conference was beginning. KEYE did not have a live camera at that location, but, Salazar pushed his cell phone into the news conference as the TV station used other images.” – newsmcnabb, February 8, 2010.
Salazar says his negotiations with News 8 began in December, 2009 resulting in a three-year contract approved by Time Warner corporate offices in New York. His contract has a “top 20 market out”, meaning that if he were offered a position in a top 20 market, he could get out of his contract, but Salazar says he intends to stay in Central Texas.
“My passion is deep. And thankfully my maturity is carrying me forward,” Salazar says. “On bigger stories, (and I will try to pull that off daily), I will have an assigned a photog. I was told I may work alone give or take, half the time or less.” From its inception, a News 8’s staff has worked alone as “one-man-bands”. “Now it is time for me to push the envelope,” Salazar continues. “I’ve chosen to go to News 8 to begin to focus on being a complete broadcast journalist. It was time for me to move to the next level.”
Salazar learned the basics of broadcast journalism at South Plains College in Lubbock and attended Texas Tech University. He brought his talents to Austin from the ABC station in Lubbock. He is a native of Levelland.
With two weeks left in the May sweeps, it will be a blow to KEYE. When someone signs with another station or news department in the same market, the protocol is for that person to leave the station immediately. There was no immediate comment from either KEYE or News 8.
As a side note, according to the New York Times, News 8 will soon be changing its branding. No longer will the station use “News 8”. Rather, they will become “Your News Now”, similar to KEYE’s branding, “We are Austin”.
© Jim McNabb, 2010