Santamaria’s spectacular fall from grace


Kamahl Santamaria’s arguable departure from – and arrival at – TVNZ is a multi-level fiasco, writes Mark Jennings, who gave the broadcaster his first process.

Sometime in December 1998 the receptionist at TV3 referred to as me. I used to be head of reports for the community. “Mr. Santamaria is here for his appointment,” she mentioned. I answered “I don’t know any Mr. Santamaria and he doesn’t have an appointment. He’s probably a crank, can you tell him I’m busy.”

I may pay attention this particular person begging the receptionist to present him the telephone after which Santamaria got here at the line “It’s true, I don’t have an appointment, and you don’t know me, but could I just have 5 minutes of your time.”

Kamahl Santamaria had walked in off the road searching for a task. He was once 18 and had completed his ultimate yr at McLeans College. Reporters don’t get recruited this manner anymore – they pass to journalism faculties, graduate and switch up with showreels and polished CVs.

But there was once one thing about Santamaria’s power and chutzpah that inspired a punt – a unprecedented incidence, even 25 years in the past. We gave him every week’s trial within the sports activities division.

According to his Linked In account, Santamaria ended up “on-air” on his first day. I will be able to’t take note if that was once the case, however it was once quickly transparent that he was once a remarkably fast learner.

Assigned to hide New Zealand’s defence of its Trans-Atlantic rowing name in 2001 Santamaria, having simply became 21, someway wangled a commute to Barbados to hide the end of the race. While en-route he phoned the newsroom to mention he were grounded at JFK airport in New York because of a aircraft crash. It became out an American Airlines Airbus had crashed in a while after take-off killing 265 other folks. A peaceful Santamaria went reside into the 6pm bulletin a little while later.

He had borrowed a cell phone off an American lady to keep up a correspondence with the studio – Santamaria saved involved along with her and he or she was once later to turn out to be his spouse.

After a a success stint in Australia as a trade reporter, Santamaria ended up in Doha, and, like plenty of New Zealanders, changed into a key a part of the Qatari Government funded channel – Al Jazeera English.

When Time Magazine’s quilt tale highlighted Al Jazeera, Santamaria was once within the studio hotseat

He headed house after 16 years of presenting displays to very large world audiences and took up what should have felt like a moderately underwhelming position of co-host on TVNZ breakfast. But house is house and top profile roles in our small free-to-air TV marketplace are restricted.

His resignation after 32 days at the display has, on this nation no less than, introduced an finish to a outstanding profession. The allegation that he behaved inappropriately to a feminine colleague at TVNZ may be more likely to have repercussions for his boss, Paul Yurisich and most likely others in TVNZ’s control crew.

Today FM’s Tova O’Brien ran with claims from a feminine Al Jazeera reporter that it was once widely known inside that organisation that Santamaria were taken with beside the point behaviour all through his time there. And, were “spoken to” on no less than one instance.

This was once adopted up by means of a Stuff record quoting an unnamed Al Jazeera supply pronouncing Santamaria was once given a “formal warning” after court cases he acted inappropriately “with a younger female colleague.” Stuff has reported additional claims this morning from a feminine Al Jazeera worker of beside the point messages and no less than one try by means of Santamaria to kiss her.

If the claims are true then why did TVNZ reference assessments and due diligence now not uncover this? Santamaria was once identified to Yurisich who was once a senior manufacturer at Al Jazeera prior to transferring again to New Zealand to take the pinnacle of reports position at TVNZ. Did he now not really feel a test was once important?

In a relatively ominous signal for TNVZ, Broadcasting Minister Kris Faafoi has requested the TVNZ board to guarantee him that correct procedure was once adopted when it employed Santamaria.

The appointment all the time had an charisma about it. Santamaria introduced on social media that he was once leaving Al Jazeera however was once coy about the place he was once heading. After John Campbell’s new process as a correspondent for 1 News was once introduced, Santamaria showed he would take in the Breakfast position.

The Breakfast crew: Santamaria, Jenny-May Clarkson, Matty McLean and Indira Stewart

It’s believed that Yurisich felt Santamaria would deliver a crisper, newsier edge to the display that may glance somewhat “wimpy” every now and then.

Newsroom understands Breakfast’s govt manufacturer, Miranda Fisher, was once now not consulted on who would change Campbell. Fisher has since left Breakfast after a yr and 4 months as EP.

Breakfast’s supervising manufacturer Naomi Tan has additionally left the display after a equivalent period of time.

Jonathan Williams who was once EP of breakfast prior to Fisher, lately give up his position as EP of reports content material and has long past to Stuff.

While the departures could be unrelated to Santamaria’s appointment they constitute an important lack of ability in a brief length for TVNZ.

Industry assets have additionally steered that some TVNZ senior managers were centered at the new public media entity that may subsume TVNZ and RNZ someday subsequent yr and could have overlooked what was once going down within the newsroom.

The PR round Santamaria’s disappearance from Breakfast seems clumsy at easiest and incompetent at worst. No acknowledgement to Breakfast audience of his absence, then a declare that he was once coping with a “family emergency” which then modified to a “personal matter” and in the end a press release he had resigned.

The concentration is going to now fall on TVNZ’s new CEO, Simon Power, and the way he handles what’s shaping as a fiasco. Power might be below power from the Broadcasting Minister and his personal newsroom – each in need of solutions. The former National Party cupboard minister and banking govt goes to want the entire political enjoy and abilities that helped him get the process to kind this one out.

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