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Tuesday October 2, 2012

Miami Herald on 'Trayvon Inc.' – any hint of hypocrisy?

miami herald, today's cover Here’s the front-page story of today’s Herald, CASHING IN ON TRAYVON INC.

An iconic photograph of a young Trayvon Martin in his Bulldogs football uniform, staring stone-faced into the camera, has been published in print and online around the world.

The Optimist Club team photographer, Lucricia Woodside of North Miami, owns the copyright to the picture and never authorized its use. Now she is a member of a growing number of entrepreneurs, artists and even some opportunists who have found ways to cash in on a new cottage industry.

Call it Trayvon Inc.

The Trayvon case is tragic and wrong on many levels. But a photographer trying to get credit for her work? That’s the lead in the article about people exploiting the tragedy for profit? Let’s be clear about this: despite the liberties people have been taking with reuse of imagery on the internet (including this very blog!), a person with a camera owns the copyright to every picture they make.

What is the writer, Frances Robles, arguing here? That when something becomes news any photo relevant to the news becomes public domain, free to be used without the photographer’s permission?

In fact that must be the argument. Because that’s what these newspapers and websites did: used a photo without asking for permission of the copyright holder. (From a legal perspective, the fact that the photographer registered the copyright is irrelevant to the story.)

Check out the Herald’s own terms of service

Material published on MiamiHerald.com, including articles, photos, Content Feeds, graphics, bulletin board postings, audio and video clips, trademarks, service marks, and other content (“Content”), is copyrighted by The Miami Herald … You may not reproduce, republish or redistribute Content or any portions thereof, including, without limitation, Content provided by licensors and others, including member-submitted content, without the written consent of the copyright owner.

What do you think would happen if something in Miami became a national news story, and a photo from the Herald started popping up in newspapers and websites? That’s right, they’d get their lawyers on it. It’s wrong because the person doing it is a journeyman photographer? Look: part of the deal with being a photographer is that you might be in the right place at the right time and get a photo that becomes valuable. Trust me: professional photographers have it tough these days. They deserve whatever break they can get.

And they certainly don’t deserve to be made to look like profiteering lowlives by a major national newspaper. This poor woman is going to be getting hatemail and threats from ignorant jerks who read this stupid article and don’t think this through.

The Herald’s got a catchy headline, but it’s completely unfair. Cashing in on Trayvon Inc., eh? Say, I notice that this article is on your front page. Could it be that you’re profiting as much as anyone else from this? Where’s the intellectual honesty?

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Thursday August 23, 2012

Taken for a Ride: How the transit tax went off track. I came across this researching for the trolley article, but it deserves an extra mention. A special report put together by Larry Lebowitz and a small team at the Herald back in 2008, it tells the story of how the transit tax passed in 2002 was squandered. It’s interesting to go back and look at now, not least because it harkens to a time when the Herald was at least trying to do ambitious multimedia reports like this.

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Wednesday June 20, 2012

Photographing the Herald: answers revealed!

Miami Herald no protography private property zone

Last week I had a run-in with Herald security guards in which I was told that photography of the Herald building from the sidewalk is not allowed. Well, Bill over at Random Pixels called up the Herald and got some answers. It turns out that the Herald does indeed own the sidewalk and the street in front of their building. I’ve marked in blue their private property in the picture above. They do, in fact, have the right to not allow protography, to ask anyone to leave, or do anything else you could do to someone standing in your driveway. (Well, technically they sold the building last year and are now just leasing it temporarily, but that’s not really relevant to the issue.)

As far as I’m concerned, that settles the matter. It’s their property and they can do whatever they want, including not allowing photography. Do I think this is a dumb rule? Yes, I do; there are dumb rules all over the place, so has it ever been. Do I think the Herald should post “No Photography” signs or “Private Property” signs? No, I think that’d be ugly and even dumber. Do I regret being a jerk to the security guards at the Herald? No. I was a jerk to the guy who was a jerk to me first. He very clearly said that photography was “not allowed” and didn’t say shit about the sidewalk and street being private property. I was perfectly polite to the second security guard, who came closer to explaining the situation correctly but still only made vague reference to “the Herald’s area” (although he knew it also included the street). I do think the security guards could be better informed about why they’re enforcing the rules, but I also understand the point that they’ve got a lot of other things to worry about, and I don’t think it’s that big of a deal. I’m cool with the Herald again, and I wish them well in their move to Doral or wherever, where presumably they won’t have to worry so much about pesky people with iPhones photographing their building.

Previously: Photography of the Miami Herald building is “not allowed”? / Update/Correction.

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Sunday June 17, 2012

Correction: In the Photography of the Miami Herald building is “not allowed”? post, I got the link to Carlos Miller’s blog wrong. The story of the other link is here. Apologies to Carlos, and bigups to sloppy blogging!

Update: And here is Carlos’ post about my post and the incident. Carlos contacted a couple of Herald reporters, and it sounds like they were disturbingly nonchalant about the whole thing. Some people have stuck up for the security guards in this situation, and I absolutely agree that the problem is with head of security or whoever set the policy, and the managers of the paper who allow it to continue. Total bullshit, and yes, we should go down there with cameras. Name the day.

Update: Facebook discussion.

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Thursday June 14, 2012

Photography of the Miami Herald building is "not allowed"?

miami herald

Wow, wait till you hear this one. So I’m out for an early morning bike ride, and snapping a few photos, and I end up in front of the Miami Herald building for this one. Out the garage comes a guy in a Volkswagen Beetle (with a white “Un-Beetle” decal, so, you know, clearly a douche) comes out and tells me “no photography.” I laugh him off, but he’s quite serious. “I’not allowed to stand here and take pictures?!” says I. “No, you’re not.” says him, now puling a badge out and waving it at me, without identifying himself as any particular law enforcement. “What’re you going to do, call the cops?” say I. “Yeah, I will!” says him. “So call them,” says I. “Just don’t take any photos!” says he and pulls away.

So I circle around and talk to another security guard, who is very nice about it and somewhat equivocal, but he says yeah, photography of the building is not allowed. “But it’s a public street” say I. “Well, they consider this Miami Herald area” says him, pointing at the street with a completely straight face. “If you want to go across the street, that’s something else…” He also says something about how it’s because it’s a landmark(!) and that they’d like me to get a permit if I’m going to be photographing. I mentioned something about how I’d like for them to cut me a check for a half a million dollars, and I guess at that point he realized he had a wise ass on his hands and said something about just being cool about it.

So, first of all, what a sorry pair of backing-down-ass security guards, right? But more to the point (and I actually wonder whether this needs to be said) how fucking ironic is it that in this era when photographer’s effective rights are being chipped away, and the job of news photographers like Carlos Miller* to do their jobs is getting harder and harder (to speak nothing of our civil liberties), the Miami Herald is contributing to this extra-legal “no photography rule” nonsense. Do the reporters and editors know about this “rule”? How far are the security guards actually trained to go in enforcing it? (And do they have clear boundaries?) And when will the idea get into the popular consciousness that “rules” happen on private property and on public property the only “rules” are laws, and it’s very poor policy to have your security people confuse the two and try to represent one thing as another?

* I originally got the link to Carlos’ blog wrong. The original link went to a … I’m not sure what the fuck it is, actually. The story is here. Thanks to Carlos for the correction.

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Thursday June 5, 2008

Lookie here, the Herald has a few Twitter feeds: main, Cuba, weather, and Dolphins.

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Wednesday April 30, 2008

Bob Norman has a great rant about the newspaper industry, esp. as it pertains to Miami. “Look at the Miami Herald. It’s been hit by an 11 percent decline in the six-month period ending at the end of March. It’s down to 240,000. … And what do we get? Same shit, only softer.”

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Thursday April 10, 2008

Turmoil at the Herald, as the newspaper offers buyouts to selected employees, with a goal of a 2% reduction in staff. Sayeth the e-mail from the Herald’s executive editor to staff: “The buyouts will be available to three areas of the newsroom where the least attrition has come the past year or so. They include a portion of the photography staff, a group of veteran writers from several departments, and members of the administration staff, including news assistants, executive assistants and wire room staff.”

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Wednesday March 26, 2008

In 1988, John Dorschner wrote a long piece for Tropic, the Miami Herald’s now-defunct Sunday magazine. He pretended to be writing in 2008, looking back over the last 20 years. Henry Gomez dug up a copy of the magazine, and compared the predictions with what actually happened, in a 4-part series of posts. There is some very dramatic stuff here that never happened (e.g. Mariel II, 1998), but Dorschner gets a lot of stuff right. Too bad Babalu’s italicized blockquotes are so hard to read.

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Monday February 25, 2008

Cruise arrives at Port Everglades 6 hours late. Is this really a news story?

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Thursday January 17, 2008

The Miami Herald has launched miami.com beta, a city guide-cum-shot at internet relevancy, and it looks promising. There is great content, including a listing of artist with studios open to the public, a collection of old-Miami attractions, and a guide to the best of the food trucks. Most interesting though is the social-networking overlay, which allows the creation of MySpace-like profies, commenting, and whatnot, all tied to a point system that rewards active users.

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Thursday December 20, 2007

Comment moderation at Herald.com?

Storm clouds gather around the reader comment situation at Herald.com. It seems that the future holds a registration system and/or comment moderation for the Herald, and with the ratio of useless/offensive comments that currently plague the site, I can’t say that I see this as a particularly bad thing. But I would also encourage the Herald to borrow even more liberally from how comments work on blogs. For example, the few comment excerpts at the bottom of articles never correspond to the articles at the top of the comments page. And why have a separate comments page, anyway? But more importantly, there is a glaring fallacy here:

The number of visitors to MiamiHerald.com in November was up 66 percent from the year before, according to Executive Editor Anders Gyllenhaal, and registration might slow or even temporarily reverse such strong growth.

With all due respect, Mr. Schumacher-Matos, the Herald’s Ombudsman, is getting himself very confused: what’s putting the breaks on Herald.com readership is the registration system required for reading the site, which is not only invasive and tedious, but broken — I’ve personally repeatedly re-registered for the site, only to have it forget me after a couple of months. I’m back to using bugmenot to access it, which of course does nobody any good (like the slipshod “data” they collect with the system had a hope of being of any use to the Herald to begin with). The obvious non-controversial solution is to make the site as easy as possible to read, and require registration for commenting. Throw in a few simple social-networking features, and your offensive comments will decline drastically, and be much easier to enforce.

I do appreciate the difficulty of the Herald’s position here, though — deleting comments is tricky, because once you take an active role in comment moderation, you are more responsible, both in a commonsense way and in a legal way, for the comments that remain on the site. And of course journalists prefer to error on the side of free speech, reader-friendliness, and (more recently) “interactivity.” Of course in this situation, those three ideals stand somewhat in opposition to each other.

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Thursday November 15, 2007

I’m having a bit of a difficult time focusing right now, and I’m not sure I can give you a specific post to read, but I think it would be an excellent idea for you to go over and look at Herald Watch at some point. Just a lot of interesting things going on over there.

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Wednesday October 3, 2007

Also: the Herald’s webmasters had nothing better to do, so they decided to overhaul the site’s misguided mandatory registration system. It went live yesterday and dumped anyone who registered after May of this year. If you’re going to re-register, please use names to let them know how you feel about the system (e.g. “Mr. Fuckyou Assholes”) and MyTrashMail.

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Monday October 1, 2007

You’ve got to love the Miami Herald. A great expose on misuse of funds at the non-profit Miami-Dade Empowerment Trust (part one of three!) runs alongside a director’s commentary style article about the reporters reporting the story. Maybe part 2 of the story will include a sidebar on the graphic designer who laid out the page.

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Tuesday September 25, 2007

Miami Herald Digital. Another in a long series of efforts by newspapers to try to make money by making the internet behave more like paper news. “The electronic editions follow similar launches by . . . The New York Times and Washington Post.” — I’m shocked that this passed the laugh test at chez Herald — the New York Times’ online edition launched in 2001. At this rate, the Herald will open its archives in 2013. (via Herald Watch)

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Monday September 17, 2007

PBS’ Exposé on last year’s House of Lies series in the Herald shows how Debbie Cenziper put the story together, and looks at what’s happened since. Not enough, it looks like, but it’s a very impressive story of reporter vs. corrupt government agency.

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Tuesday September 11, 2007

This Herald editorial, about the new downtown logo, drops the s-bomb. Sort of.

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Wednesday August 15, 2007

2 Live Looks gets the grand profile treatment from the Herald’s Jaweed Kaleem, including photos of the guys in action and a narrated slideshow. Congrats. (Oh, and I get quoted.)

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Friday August 10, 2007

Edited Herald letter

Herald Watch got a hold of a letter to the editor sent to the Herald and compared it to the published version. The letter is by former Herald journalist Paul Crespo, one of the subjects of Oscar Corral’s Radio Marti story. The strikeout text was deleted from the version published, underlined text was added. Interesting:

Reporter arrested / I was amazed -- but not surprised -- by your coverage of the arrest of Miami Herald reporter Oscar Corral. As the self-styled arbiter of ethics in Miami, The Miami Herald is displaying its own lack of ethics and professionalism in this case. In contrast to your front-page coverage of several Cuban-American journalists (including me) in 2006, your microscopic coverage of Corral's recent arrest for allegedly soliciting a prostitute was hidden on page three of the Metro section. / Regarding the front-page story by Corral about our freelancing for TV Marti, your own ombudsman, Clark Hoyt, found numerous flaws in Corral's reporting. Among the many critiques in his report on Corral's article, Hoyt stated that the story's ''hard and accusatory tone and the large and breathless headline suggested something more sinister than the story actually reported.'' What a difference between your piece against us and this minimal coverage of your reporter who wrote it. -- PAUL CRESPO, Coral Gables

What happened here? Well, they haven’t made it sound like Paul is saying anything he didn’t say. They’ve selected one particular point he made and deleted the material that’s tangential to that point. In the process, much of the anger obvious in the original has been sapped. There’s no question that the Herald editors have the right to do this. The question becomes, again, what should newspapers do differently in light of the internet?

A commenter on HW says: “On the web, there is little space limitation. They could have at least published the full version online.” More interestingly, they could publish both versions online, and let us see the edits. Such radical transparency seems to be the direction the internet is pushing all business, and it’s not ironic that newspapers are getting pushed in this direction, too. It will be interesting to see how long they fight this, and to what extent they are willing and able to change.

In the meantime, let’s have more of this. CC Conductor on letters you send to the Herald, and maybe these sorts of revision-revealed letters will become a regular feature.

[Accessibility note: the edited version of the letter is in the image’s alt-text. The original version is here.]

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Tuesday August 7, 2007

I noticed the “Herald reporter charged with soliciting prostitute” headline in my RSS this morning but wasn’t interested enough to click. So it turns out the reporter in question is none other then Oscar Corral, which has all the internets in a frenzy. Also, whether he remembers or not, Rick got ‘schadenfreude’ from me.

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So, the Herald got a phone call from Sacramento the other day, and they were all like, “yeah, the McClatchy call centers, that’s what we said,” and the big guy on the other end of the line was all “uh-uh — they’re ‘McClatchy Call Centers,’ and you’re running a correction on this,” and they’re all like “that’s ridiculous, we’re not doing that,” and . . . well, here.

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Wednesday August 1, 2007

Design tweaks at the miamiherald.com

herald menu

Click over to any news story at miamiherald.com, and you get this groovy new menu bar. This is the same design I complained about on the Carnival Center’s website last year. These are not too difficult to use but please Herald — can’t we have drop-down menus? You know, like we use on all of our software every day? Yes, I know they block a portion of your content, but when we’re on the menu we’re not looking at the content. Trust me — you’d make life much easier for all your users, especially the less computer-savvy ones.

That said, I really like the feature. I can jump to whatever section I need with one click, and scrolling through the menus gives a good overview of the site’s structure. Which leads me to the next logical question: why not on the home page? All usually I want from the Herald’s home page is to get to the local news in one click, and I’ve never been able to do that. Why, Herald, why? Why does the “News” link in the left column menu have sub-links for “Hurricane 2007” and “Obituaries” but nothing else? Hopefully you’re just trying it out, and then will migrate it to the home page. I like that idea of rolling out interface changes bit by bit, rather then doing a grand all-at-once “redesign.”

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Thursday July 19, 2007

“Second quarter earnings for [Miami Herald] publisher McClatchy Co. fell 9.3 percent, a drop the company attributed to weak advertising sales.” The real-estate slump gets a big share of the blame.

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Thursday July 12, 2007

“Hot tar spilling out of a roofing kettle ignited a fire Wednesday afternoon at an under-construction gate-assignment tower at Miami International Airport.” No, not the main tower, and yes, everything’s fine. Here’s the story, but do you see something peculiar? In the photo, by Herald photographer Tim Chapman, there’s a little halo around the top of the tower, which is often a telltale sign of photoshopping. I guess the Herald considers a little digital burn-n-dodge Kosher, but you’d think at least they could be a little less sloppy about it. Here’s the photo, for when the Herald yanks it.

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Wednesday April 18, 2007

“Debbie Cenziper of the Miami Herald captured the local reporting [Pulitzer Prize] for exposing the waste of millions of dollars for projects that were never built, which led to prosecutions and firings. She will join The [Washington] Post this summer.” (via Pulp)

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Tuesday April 10, 2007

Miami blogger receives bizarre letter from lawyer of Miami Herald columnist

Here’s something! Last November Henry Gomez did a post about Marifeli Pérez-Stable, an FIU professor and Miami Herald columnist. The post links to a report and quotes an e-mail by an Indiana University professor that makes some pretty serious accusations against Pérez-Stable:

In 1993, I wrote an academic study entitled “Academic Espionage: U.S. Taxpayer Funding of a Pro Castro Study“ for the Institute for U.S. Cuba Relations in Washington, D.C. The report was translated into Spanish and published in Miami’s “Diario las Américas” newspaper. I used only one quote from the Pérez Méndez debriefing, which indicated that one of the participants of that project, Professor Marifeli Pérez-Stable, “was a DGI agent who responded to Cuban intelligence officials Isidro Gómez and Jesús Arboleya Cervera. Pérez-Stable, who had organized another DGI front group called the Cuban Culture Circle, was receiving $100 for every person that traveled to Cuba through that organization. According to Pérez-Méndez, Pérez-Stable replaced DGI agent Lourdes Casal after her death in Havana, and the DGI and ICAP prepared the yearly plans for Pérez-Stable.”

. . . wherein DGI is the Cuban intelligence agency. Good, right? Well, I guess word was slow to get around, but two weeks ago Henry got a letter from Pérez-Stable’s lawyer basically claiming that posting the accusation consisted of slander, insisting that it be taken down, and making veiled references to monetary damages:

Please provide me within thirty days of receipt of this letter or April 28, 2007 the name of your insurance carrier with information of all available limits.

Oh, and the letter came headlined “Not for Publication.” Henry, to his credit, talked to a lawyer who assured him that not only did he not have to take down shit, he could go ahead and post the letter, because NfP requests are just that — requests, not legally binding.

Now, I have no idea whether Pérez-Stable is guilty of any of this — I rather doubt it. But I think baseless accusations are best answered with openness and information (possibly information along the lines of why your accuser might have other motives), not with legal threats. It sounds to me from reading the EFF FAQ on Online Defamation Law that Henry is very much within his rights here:

A public figure must show “actual malice” — that you published with either knowledge of falsity or in reckless disregard for the truth.

Obviously Henry made it clear that he was repeating the words of somebody else, and that individual would seem to have at least reasonable credibility. What’s this lawyer thinking, anyway?

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Tuesday March 6, 2007

It's all the readers' fault

Carl Hiaasen says and Bob Norman agrees. That the Anna Nicole Smith incident is revealing some sort of new low in our culture. “But this is the new New Journalism, which is steered by a core belief that people would rather be smothered by seedy gossip about dead ex-Playmate junkies than be bothered with the details of North Korea’s nuclear program.”

I call bullshit. That people are more interested in trivial gossip than weighty news is as old as humanity. I see no evidence that the internet is intensifying this whatsoever — 30 million people mentioned Anna Nicole Smith. Big deal — most of those hits were probably from blogs mentioning her in passing (like I just did). She’s an interesting celebrity, and she just died — what does Hiaasen expect?

This is just a newspaper guy frustrated by the fact that his industry is dying and blaming it on readers’ alleged preferences. The truth is that readers skim the Smith article and then they skim the North Korea article, and they know the difference. The real problem is the newspapers. I picked one up yesterday (the NYTimes, actually), and boy was it a disaster. The content is great, but the delivery system stinks. A big heavy clump of wood pulp gets dropped on your lawn every morning, and you’re expected to flip through hundreds of huge flimsy pages, skimming articles to try to find what’s of interest to you. Stories jump around from page to page, making you unfold, flip, refold, and generally wrestle with the stupid thing.

And newspapers’ web sites are no better — the Herald’s front page gives you a hint of what’s behind the link for exactly two stories. For anything else you have to navigate to sub-pages or guess from short cryptic headlines. Navigable archive pages are non-existent, searching is rudimentary, and all articles disappear behind a paywall after a few months. The Herald has a mess of blogs that don’t integrate with its regular site, and many are on Blogspot. I’ve repetedly implored the Herald to look for new ways to use the internet, and it’s just not happening. The NY Times has a new state-of-th-art website, but it’s chosen to put its columnists behind a paywall, so I’m not sure how much of a leader they’ll be.

Look, there’ll always be a demand for serious news, and there’ll always be news organizations to meet the demand. The only question is whether today’s newspapers are smart enough to make the changes to become those organizations. But their blaming their audience for their troubles suggests they are not.

Update: In the comments, Dan Sweeney just proved that Hiaasen isn’t just wrong about his conclusion, he’s wrong about his facts, too. Herewith, a series of graphs demonstrating that Anna Nicole Smith wasn’t the biggest news story the week she died by a long shot.

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Thursday January 25, 2007

Defeating the Miami Herald’s lame login wall. Sure you can bugmenot it once and be done for life, but lackner has another way — the Herald’s website apparently lets you view a few articles without registering, so if you’re a light user, all you have to do is delete your miami.com cookies once in awhile.

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Tuesday January 16, 2007

Way in which the Herald is wasting it’s money #213: the Idol Watch blog. Stumbled on through this article, which (huh?) appears in the Miami-Dade section.

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Sunday January 7, 2007

Someone named Brown wrote a book on the history of Little Haiti. This Miami Herald article gives neither the book’s title nor the author’s first name. Update: NicFitKid and Manola to the rescue; see the comments.

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Tuesday December 26, 2006

[Tom Fiedler] was a great reporter, a good political editor, a decent editorial page editor and, ultimately, so-so as executive editor.” Rebecca Wakefield considers Fiedler’s legacy, and the state of the newspaper he’s leaving behind, concluding: “As imperfect as it is, as rudderless, bogged-down and lacking in stones as its management has often seemed, we need the Miami Herald.” (via Herald Watch) Update: a complete transcript of Rebecca’s interview with Tom.

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Monday December 4, 2006

Quintessential DeFede: “when you initially heard that a deranged fired newspaper employee had stormed the Herald building with a machine gun, you thought to yourself, ‘Oh my, what’s DeFede done now?’” The he gives some advice to McClatchy. Nice.

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Friday November 24, 2006

Armed cartoonist storms El Nuevo Herald

asdf

Earlier today, an El Nuevo Herald cartoonist, Jose Varela, came to the office camoed up and armed with what appears to be a submachine gun. He took control of executive editor Humberto Castelló‘s office and trashed it. He had this to say (translated from Spanish):

You know that the newspaper lasts little today. This little problem is over now. This is a pig sty and somebody needs to pay, somebody has to do it, because this is how you clean shit. It’s about time, now that they’re mocking people. Today they’re going to see it as violence. But somebody has to pay and that is going to be Castello.

The news room was evacuated, and a swat team’s been called in. Herald report.

Update: From the Reuters report (emphasis added):

El Nuevo reporter Rui Ferreira said in a blog that he had spoken to the gunman, who told him, “You are speaking to the new director of the newspaper and I am going to unmask all of the true conflicts in the newspaper.”

Varela called the paper a “pigsty”, said it made fun of the Cuban exile community in Miami and that the paper paid poorly.

“They’ve been making fun of people long enough and today they will see it end in violence. But someone has to pay and that person is going to be (Humberto) Castello.” he said, referring to the Spanish-language paper’s executive editor.

Ferreira said Varela had been in the newsroom a week ago and told former colleagues he had bought himself a sawn-off shotgun and an Uzi submachine gun because he felt unsafe in Jupiter, a Florida town he moved to after his recent divorce.

Update (2:45pm): Police just arrested the guy. Nobody hurt. The update is at the original Herald link, along with a picture of Varela.

Update (11-25-06): OK, the machine gun was a toy(!), although he also had a knife. The “Herald report” link above now has a detailed account of how everything happened (not sure how I feel about them completely rewriting the story as it happens). It seems pretty clear that what we had here was a crazy guy going crazy. Check out a transcript where he compares himself to Rosa Parks at Herald Watch. And at the Pulp, Bob had this to say (after quoting the same “he shoulda grabbed Fiedler” comment from Babalu that Rick jumped on):

I can’t believe I’m even saying this, but I’m starting to think there needs to be some kind of town hall meeting with Fiedler, other newspaper editors and reporters, Cuban exile leaders, and anybody else interested in these issues. Stick Michael Putney in there to moderate. Start it at 7:30 and let it last until the wee hours if it has to.

One thing’s for sure: for better or worse, this has definitely piqued some interest in Varela’s work.

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For anyone who thinks the Radio Martí thing is over, check out some recent posts at the Pulp and Herald Watch. That’s right — still raging!

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Bert Rodriguez photo installation on Herald building

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Bert Rodriguez, You’re only mad at yourself, photo installation on the east side of the Miami Herald building, 2006.

Bert Rodriguez, previously known for buying and returning picture frames with his picture in them, was awarded a $15,000 grant to complete this installation on the outside of the Herald building. It’s a photo of the view from inside the building, flipped horizontally for a mirror effect for westbound drivers. From an interview:

From inside the Herald building I took a photograph through windows of the outside view, and I took the picture from the part of the building where the banner hangs. From inside the building, the banner, which is 60-feet-by-40-feet, will reflect the same view employees always see. From outside — for people on the other side of the bay and driving toward downtown on the causeway — it will look like a reflection.

For a (Snitzer!) artist who operates on the boundary between the obvious and the sublime, this is pretty damn good. He resisted the urge to do something more obvious (say, on the building’s oft-bannered south wall), and nods subtly to the previous Herald-based installation, Wendy Wischer’s fantastic moon projection. But couldn’t $15,000 bought a bigger banner? Maybe three of these next to each other (60’ x 120’), which would also have resulted in a more pleasing horizontally-oriented image.

And yes, it’s up just in time for Art Basel.

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Wednesday November 8, 2006

WTF, Herald?!

The Herald's graph showing Jim Davis at 53%, the Herald's headline declaring Christ 'Florida's new governor'

Check out the Herald: As of 5:41 am, this page shows Jim Davis at 53.55%, and this page, not to mention the cover, is declaring Christ the new governor. WHAT THE HELL, GUYSPEOPLE CARE ABOUT THIS STUFF!

I know it’s been a long night for y’all, but is nobody at the the controls over there? Update: Eddie points out that the graph represents only the voters in Miami-Dade.

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Thursday October 19, 2006

The ‘Get Fuzzy’ / Miami Herald controversy. Fidel Castro’s name comes up!

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Wednesday October 18, 2006

A meeting about the Miami streetcar will take place tonight. btw, the url at the end of the Herald article is so mangled I can’t even guess what it is.

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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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Wednesday October 4, 2006

More about the future of newspapers

A great article about the dangers and opportunities newspapers face in case my rant from Monday wasn’t long enough.

Internet advertising revenues account on average for no more than 10 percent of total ad revenues because online readers of newspapers still have small value for advertisers. Newspapers need to expand their Internet readership very substantially and, particularly, persuade their online readers to stay hooked to their digital versions much longer. The way to do that is to embrace the cultural change.”

It goes on to suggest customization as one way to embrace cultural change. In one way, the Herald is doing this: they have hundreds of RSS feeds, so anyone who knows about RSS can get a customized version of the Herald. Which makes me wonder: why not a customized home page, ala My Yahoo?

Unfortounately, even the RSS feeds are slightly snafu’d: right at the top is Liz Donovan, who hasn’t written for the Herald since July. And just this morning, when I clicked an item from the Local section’s feed for a brand new article, I got this error message page. Great, I guess I’m back to wading through web site. Good thing I caught it today, because by tomorrow I’d be forced to use the dreaded search engine. (thanks, Val)

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Tuesday October 3, 2006

Miami Herald publisher, Jesús Díaz Jr., resigns, and the firings of the reporters who wrote for Radio Martí are reversed. “While I still believe that the acceptance of such payments by the nine journalists was a breach of widely accepted principles of journalistic ethics that violated the trust of our readers, our policies prohibiting such behavior may have been ambiguously communicated, inconsistently applied and widely misunderstood over many years in the El Nuevo Herald newsroom. It has been determined that in fairness we should extend an amnesty to all involved and enforce our policies more forcefully and consistently in the future.” Update: More at SotP, babalu, Herald Watch, Pulp, and the Herald itself. I haven’t come to a positive conclusion; conversation in the comments is ongoing. Update: and still more at Miami Vision (“We’re sure the new owners of the Herald didn’t have a clue about what they were getting themselves into.” And by the way, making the whole paper a tabloid is an excellent idea.), Klotz, and babalu)

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Friday September 15, 2006

Henry, of Cuban-American Pundits, has started up Herald Watch. He began right before the Marti fiasco perfect timing. This should be interesting.

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Monday September 11, 2006

At least 10 local journalists accepted U.S. government pay for programs on Radio Martí or TV Martí. El Nuevo Herald fired two of them Thursday for conflict of interest. Whoa. More at the Pulp. The Babalú perspective.

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Friday August 18, 2006

Hmm… I wonder if Joseph is talking about this. A little birdie told me “yes.” In fact, they refer to “bloggers” diggind up the el nuevo photo montage, which is little more then a reference to New Times. Of course the Herald has to pretend NT doesn’t exist.

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Monday July 31, 2006

An article in the Herald, which I point out mainly because the central question, “What do the activists want?” cannot be answered by skimming the article. Try it. Maybe because five writers on one story (two in the byline, three as contributors) is just too many cooks in the kitchen. Update: Hey, I think this is what Overtown is talking about.

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Thursday July 27, 2006

el nuevo herald page

This is a photo that ran in El Nuevo Herald on June 25th. It shows a couple of police officers in the capitol of Cuba, indifferent to four prostitutes, and it’s a photoshop job. It sounds to me like the shit hit the fan at El Nuevo when the New Times started calling and they realized what’d really happened. On the other hand, even in this crappy reproduction the edit is obvious. Maybe this goes on all the time?

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Friday July 14, 2006

‘Posted on Thu, Jul. 13, 2006: Miami-Dade Transit workshops tonight, Monday’. More funky business from the Herald web team, and again directed at Larry’s stuff (maybe they’re getting back at him for mentioning blogs). Has anyone seen the print edition, and is this in there?

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Monday July 10, 2006

Larry Lebowits interviews Gabriel of Transit Miami and rounds up local transit-related blogging. Cool! (Hopefully the Herald will fix the hilariously messed up links by the time you read this.) Herald readers landing here, if you’re really only interested in transportation click ‘Traffic’. And here’s that Metrorail anagram. Update: Yes, they fixed it.

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Wednesday July 5, 2006

McClatchy in the house

Herald on cover of McClatchy magazineLet’s take a moment to acknowledge the passing of the reigns over at the Miami Herald last week. The sale from Knight-Ridder to McClatchy has now been executed, and we’re now officially in the hands of the new guys. This all happened very quietly in the newspaper, with just one little article suggesting plans for the web site, and a feel-good opinion post about how great everyone is, what an opportunity this presents, blah blah blah.

The mood inside the newsroom (yes, I know about these things) has been one of cautious optimism; nobody’s sure what McClatchy’s going to do, but they’re mostly glad to see Knight-Ridder gone. What with the, shall we say unsettled state of the newspaper industry, everybody knows that new thinking is required, and McClatchy is seen as maybe being capable of some new thinking. We can check out the sites of the Star Tribune and Modesto Bee to see what they like to do. The main thing to notice is how different the sites are, which lends credence to the “reflect regional design and flavor” line. Let’s hope they fix what’s broken (the archives, the search, browsing of past issues) and not what ain’t.

There were some murmurings about a possible piece in the Bee that was supposed to slam Knight-Ridder, but instead we got this ho-hum overview of the deal.

In one of my regular lashings of the Herald, I suggested that the newspaper (and maybe all newspapers) should be run as non-profit organizations (I’ve since learned that the St. Petersburg Times is run by a non-profit). Well, that’s obviously not going to happen now. Still, this is interesting: the Herald building is on the cover of the most recent McClatchy magazine. It turns out that the paper is now the biggest in the organization’s portfolio (total: 39 papers). Maybe being the flagship has its privileges. Maybe the Herald will be given some opportunities and resources to really stretch out and look at what a newspaper is in the internet age. Hopefully it’s more then just crappy little online videos and photo slideshows. One person I spoke to at the Herald used the phrase “manage the decline,” and I hope that isn’t true. We need information, and if the Herald can focus on the local, and look at ways to use the internet properly, there’s no reason for any decline except in paper pulp consumption.

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Wednesday June 28, 2006

This is more the hasty squirting backseat passion of Prom Night.” Dave Barry gets edited. The piece is here.

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Thursday June 22, 2006

The Pulp’s interesting little meta-tidbit about the Heat/Mavericks championship. “Don’t believe a friend of a friend who claimed to have heard the Dallas Mavericks owner yell profane accusations.”

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Tuesday June 20, 2006

Over at the Pulp, Bob has been reading the Herald’s comment boards, and has a startling and crazy report.

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Wednesday May 24, 2006

Henry e-mailed the Herald about the new blogs. I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for a response.

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Monday May 22, 2006

Also, Bob Norman looks into the commenting system at herald.com. Very interesting, though I don’t agree that the Herald is legally responsible for readers’ online comments: see Section 230 protections.

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Tuesday May 9, 2006

Comments on herald.com!

Be still my heart: this article in the Herald (on the debate over rock mining) allows comments!! Has anyone ever seen this before? I wonder if this is an experiment, or the beginning of a new policy of some sort? In any case, it’s long overdue.

Nice system, too: there’s a comment rating system, a separate RSS feed (the herald has the RSS thing down), and some transparent moderation going on: “Messages 89.6 through 89.10 were deleted.” Nice job, Herald!

Update: Another and another.

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Saturday April 29, 2006

Some clarification on the Herald’s hiring of a PR consultant during the DeFede firing mess is up over on the Daily Pulp. It seems the truth is more complicated then originally thought, but only a little more: “But newspapers aren’t routine businesses — they work in the truth market, where P.R. firms are looked upon with a jaundiced eye. There’s a reason the Herald wasn’t forthcoming at the time about hiring Rubin. And the newspaper clearly should have disclosed in every article quoting Rubin on unrelated issues that he had a financial relationship with the newspaper.”

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Wednesday April 26, 2006

A memo from Tom Fielder to all Herald Staff:

No more will some people be strictly newspaper staff and
others will be strictly on-line or multi-media staff. If
you produce news, you’ll be expected to produce it as
effectively for the electronic reader or listener as you
would for the newspaper reader. If you edit or design for
the newspaper, you’ll learn to edit and design for the web
site.

There should be nothing too surprising about this, and it’s not really a sea change—it’s part of a necessary evolution that has been underway for years, which gives me hope, actually. My advice to the Herald: get into using hyperlinks in your articles, anywhere you possibly can. By linking to resources outside yourself, you allow yourself to be perceived as part of the net, not just a newspaper that exists within it. (via SotP)

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Tuesday April 25, 2006

The Herald hired a PR firm to manage public opinion after firing Jim DeFede. “Am I alone in thinking this is an unseemly violation of the trust newspapers have with their readers? The press, after all, is charged with the task of getting past the cover stories of P.R. firms to get to the truth about government, business, etc. If readers can’t get the unvarnished truth from the newspaper — free from the influence of hired obfuscators — then where can they ever expect to get it?”

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