Thursday October 12, 2006

Some last thoughts about the Jesús Díaz thing

Jesús Díaz, Jr. Some last thoughts about the Jesús Díaz thing. About a week ago it came out that a certain column by Carl Hiaasen actually played a large role in Díaz’s quitting. The column is a fairly uninspired summary of the Radio Martí fiasco, written in a sarcastic “this is great” mode. The headline is “Finally, someone appreciates journalists’ work.” You get the picture.

Well, this was around the time that the whole fiasco was still blowing up, and apparently Díaz didn’t think it was a good idea to be throwing gasoline on it, so he ordered the column not run. Well, great. But Hiassen is a best-selling author, and lots of people even enjoy his column, so he’s got a certain amount of pull. He threatened to quit, and make a really big stink, first to Díaz and then to the senior management at McClatchy. Reportedly, all it took was a phone call from Howard Weaver, McClatchy’s senior newspaper guy, in which he told Díaz that “we believe in strong columnists.” I think the phone call probably went a little different then all that, with a little back-and-forth in raised tones. Regardless, Díaz that very day; the 16 days until it was made public was because he agreed to give them a chance to find a replacement before making the announcement.

The word “reportedly,” above, links to the Miami Herald article about this whole incident, which is what I find probably most remarkable. Here’s a newspaper reporting on some fairly significant struggles for power within its own walls. And while the article doesn’t say so (and nobody can know for shure), it’s likely that this incident did more to piss Díaz off, and push him out, then the re-hiring of the journalists he fired. Rebecca Wakefield has about as good a summary of this whole saga as you’ll find, and she comes a little closer to saying just that, though.

In the end, the Díaz story is about how different orders of human existence can pull something in different directions, and it has an air of inevitability to it. He had to fire those guys when he did, and he had to take them back, for reasons that were just as strong, though completely different. Rebecca does a great job of teasing out all the separate issues, but really, this is just how things are with human beings: messy.

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  1. conductor    Thu Oct 12, 08:28 PM #  

    I just finished writing a post mortem on the Marti affair that I sent to Mssrs. Fiedler, Landsberg, and Tira (McClatchy) and I disagree with the idea that Diaz “had” to get rid of the writers. A better investigation up-front may have ended with a different article. One that revealed that several Herald reporters were moonlighting for Radio Marti and that Herald management didn’t know about it though it had been approved, in some cases, by a former editor (who is now dead). And that as a result the journalists would no longer be able to participate with Radio Marti. The story would not have smeared syndicated columnists, sportscasters, freelance culture reporters or talk show hosts (none of which are employees of the Herald and thus don’t have to live up the Herald’s standards of ethics).

    It wouldn’t have been much of story but it would have been a fair/true story and Diaz would still have job, the Cuban-American community wouldn’t be up in arms, Fiedler wouldn’t have felt it necessary to attack Cuban radio hosts, and the Heralds would have about 2000 more readers.

    Piss poor job of doing their jobs resulted in a big shit sandwich that they are having to take a bite of now.

  2. Biscayne Bystander    Thu Oct 12, 09:17 PM #  

    As much as some would like it to be, this is not a story about the Cuban-American community. More importantly it is the story of South Florida’s oldest newspaper loosing focus, credence and its 100+ year reputation.

    People read the Miami Herald because it is the publication of record for our community. Diaz, the bean counter he was, at least fought to maintain this integrity of his publication by firing DeFede and those double-dipping faux journalists. Principles must matter to a newspaper, especially one that bridges the US with Latin America.

    The shit sandwich, the window licker above me so eloquently stated, is being eaten by the rest of the Herald reading community. Those not among the 1,800 that dropped their subscription are left with a publication with the same unbiased street credibility as the New Times, Sun Post and Aventura News.

    Conductor, how’s the commute on the short bus?

    Just wondering?

  3. Bias    Thu Oct 12, 10:19 PM #  

    Something tells me Biscayne Bystander works for the Sun Post or New Times. Just a hunch, and both of them have enough cred issues as is.

  4. conductor    Fri Oct 13, 01:01 AM #  

    I guess Edward R. Murrow was a faux journalist because he headed up VOA.

    Another biased jackass.

  5. Biscayne Bystander    Fri Oct 13, 01:56 AM #  

    Libertarian actually. The fact remains that McClatchy called the credibility of the paper into question when they reinstated journalists that violated policy by getting paid on the side as propagandists.

    Why this is such an important issue is because they (McClatchy) are saying they’re ok with compromising their reporting. This might explain why decisions were made by the Herald not to pursue the Foley matter. Or maybe a decision was made not to publish information on any polling irregularities in the last Presidential election.

    Why some would want to support this type of unethical behavior astounds me. Reports are Castro’s dying. When he does go and the new stage of the regime change begins (what ever that may be) are we going to get honest reporting from the Herald?

    The bottom line is we rely on the daily newspaper to be ethical, accurate and Un-bias.

  6. Reason Meets Reality    Fri Oct 13, 10:48 AM #  

    It is frightening that this is even a contested point. They violated their duties by accepting pay from a federal entitiy. This may be an accepted practice in Russia and Cuba…Not here!

  7. 'Ista    Mon Oct 16, 01:48 AM #  

    I’d so love to blog about this but I gots to make dat mo-nay.

    The only thing more dysfunctional than the Herald around town has been the University of Miami and FIU fb and public relations. Okay, there is still the politicians… But what makes all of this so great is the promise. Sure Miami always holds PROMISE, like an ugly flirty chick in the club when its getting late- but the light reveals that it’s just something you can’t accept. Okay that’s tmi.

    With the Herald on a get-right direction, the County Commissioners being challenged, and Miami using sports as a venue to draw national disgust of its jacked social fabric, I just may see what’s up with the ugly flirty chick if it comes to that.

    Yep, in two more weeks and I’m blogging my ass off on Miamista.

    I “heart” McClatchey.