About Me

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New York, NY, United States
Maria Santana is a New York Correspondent for CNN en Español, a Turner Broadcasting Company. Before CNN en Español, Maria worked as the NY correspondent and Bureau Manager for SBS Broadcasting's Mega TV. She also worked as a producer and assignment editor for Telemundo WNJU in New York. Maria is a Graduate of Wesleyan University, and an Alumnus of the Connecticut School of Broadcasting program.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

CNN en Español, Here I Come!

Today started a whole new and exciting chapter of my career. It was my first day as a New York based Anchor and Correspondent for CNN en Español. CNNE is revamping it's programming, look, graphics and logo, and expanding the NY bureau is part of the revamp. It is also adding to its talent roster.

I must admit walking into the Time Warner Center this morning was a bit overwhleming. At Mega TV, I basically worked on my own. I was the assignment desk, producer, booker and reporter and besides my right hand man, my cameraman, Eric and another Techinical Director, we were Mega TV. Here, it is obvious that you are part of something bigger. There are hundreds of people, producers, studios, edit rooms etc, that work for all NY based CNN programs. One of the first people I ran into in the elevator was Eliot Spitzer, former NY Governor (remember him?) and now anchor of Parker Spitzer on CNN. Definitely a huge difference from my little basement office at Mega TV.

However, the excitement of being there, knowing that I am now part of one of the most prestigious news networks in the world, trumpted any nervousness or anxiousness that I was feeling. Beyond that, the CNN En Espanol team is still pretty small. We have a senior planning producer and another reporter who has been working as their only correpondent for 2 years, Adriana Hauser. I met both of them today and I am truly looking forward to joining their team!!! My cameraman, Eric is also making the move with me.. so now we are 4... a number I am more used to.

And, some other familiar faces will be joining me as well. Two of my former Mega TV colleagues, Fernando Del Rincon and Camilo Egana, have already made to move to CNN and I cannot wait to once again be on air with them.

I'm not quite sure what exactly I'll be doing on a day to day basis. That is what this week is all about, and I anticipate making a trip to Atlanta next week to meet with the rest of the team and management.

There are a lot of mixed feelings as I leave Mega - they gave me great experience, and I will miss them. But moving to CNN is such a great opportunity, a chance of a lifetime. Wish me luck, and I'll keep you all posted as things happen... and when you can catch my debut! Stay tuned!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Covering The Fight for Immigration Reform

Last month, my cameraman Eric and I drove 4 hours to Washington DC to cover the "Reform Immigration for America March." Normally, my beat is the NY metro area but being the closest correspondent to our nation's capital, I volunteered to cover this important and historic demonstration.

And there we were, among 250 thousand people who had traveled from every corner of this country to step out of the shadows and make their voices heard in demand of comprehensive immigration reform. This is by far the biggest event I have ever covered and on my way, I was so nervous that we had to stop a few times to make sure the butterflies in my stomach had settled. The significance of what was about to happen was not lost on my small crew and I just wanted to make sure that I did it justice.

Now, as I sit and look back at this experience, I can truly say that it has been one of the most significant in my short journalistic career. Not because of the reports I filed for my newscasts the next day, but because of the people that I met, the stories that I heard and the up close and personal look at the real consequences of this country's lack of a just immigration law.

I met students fighting for the right to go to college, who know that otherwise their lives and their potential will fall short of what they are capable. I spoke to families fighting to stay together, the fear of deportation hovering over their heads like a dark cloud... jobs, homes and dreams lost. I couldn't help but cry listening to one woman who lost her daughter in Afghanistan, fighting this country's wars abroad, her body so mangled that the Armed Forces couldn't even let the family see the corpse. But now her life is falling apart. Her husband faces deportation even as they still struggle with the sadness and depression of losing a child. There were union bosses asking for livable wages for their laborers, as well as religious and community leaders calling for compassion from our politicians.

And at the moment, I realized why it is that I decided to do what I do. Yes, I got the "big" interviews as we call them in the business- the politicians, Senator Bob Menendez and Congressman Luis Gutierrez, Civil Rights leader Jesse Jackson, and even a few big name celebrities who all decided to show their support for this cause. But more importantly, I was able to give a voice to the people themselves, the masses who came in buses, trains and a few who even walked across state lines to say "we are here, we work hard, so what are you going to do with us?" And their stories and struggles have stayed with me ever since. There was an overwhelming sense of hope and dignity that transcended mere politics- pretty powerful stuff for a reporter!

However, since that march, the issue of immigration reform has once again come to the forefront, but this time in a much less hopeful manner. Most recently, my network, and specifically, our late news program Mega News Nocturno, has been following closely the recent passing of Arizona's SB-1070 and the marches and boycotts currently being organized in response. SB1070 is a racially charged law that allows police officers to ask for documentation of any person they "reasonably suspect" is in the country illegally. And while much of the English speaking media has focused on the mechanics of how people are migrating, whether its legal or illegal, I think it's important for media outlets like mine to once again, just as what happened in DC, focus on the human aspect of this debate. How are these laws, or lack thereof, affecting families, veterans, workers, and citizens? Very often the politicians and pundits forget that we are in fact talking about human beings and their hopes and dreams for better lives , just like any one of us. As an immigrant,first generation American myself, I feel it is my duty to make sure we remind them.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Reporting Live via Skype on the 2010 Snow Blizzard - From my Backyard!

Here's an interesting one - The week just before Valentine's day gave us one of the biggest North East snow storms in years. So much so that the NY Metro Area was pretty much shut down.

For local news media this was a very busy day. All the major news organizations had their army covering the weather in various parts of the city and suburbs. I on the other hand, was able to cover it from my backyard.

As you may already know, our NY bureau doesn't have a live satellite truck yet, so we got creative and used Skype, a few lights, and a computer to get the news out to our audience in. I just love how technology is allowing smaller outfits like mine do much more than what we ever thought possible. Not bad, eh?