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Tony Valdez, a reporter and anchor at KTTV Channel 11 in Los Angeles for more than 35 years, has died. He was 78.
Valdez had been battling end-stage kidney failure and died at home, his son, Steve Valdez, told the station on Friday.
A native of East Los Angeles, Valdez attended L.A. City College and served with the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War. He worked at the local TV stations KCET and KTLA and the La Opiñion newspaper before joining KTTV in 1981 when it was owned by Metromedia.
“You could look around the TV stations and you’d see one or two Black anchors, a handful of Black reporters, but no brown ones, no Asians,” he said when he retired in 2016. “I was fortunate to be one of the people who, to put it bluntly, broke the color barrier.
“Whether it’s murder, mayhem, death or disaster,” he added, “those are the things that I feel a sense of responsibility to report.”
As a host, Valdez presided over Midday Sunday for more than three decades and L.A.’s Most Wanted, a crime series, for 27 years. He also co-anchored weekend newscasts in the 1990s alongside Christine Devine.
“Anyone who worked with Tony can tell you of his complete dedication to the truth in journalism. He knew this city inside and out,” Devine said.
Added Pete Wilgoren, acting news director at the Fox O&O: “Tony Valdez was a trailblazing reporter, advocate and mentor. He was one of the first Latino journalists to break the color barrier in Los Angeles. And with pride, Tony said he spent 35 years, five months and four days covering the stories of this city on KTTV. We are better journalists and a better community because of the coverage and compassion of Tony Valdez.”
The station’s union shop steward, Valdez chaired the 8 Ball Emergency Fund, which helps local journalists in need and grants scholarships, and spent years as a docent for the Los Angeles Conservancy, leading tours of downtown.
In addition to his son, survivors include his three grandchildren. Donations in his name can be made to the L.A. Conservancy or 8 Ball fund.
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