my latest post.
In a nutshell, the post was about the failure of the Herald to cover any of the 137 shootings and 39 homicides that occurred last year in what Miami-Dade Police call the Northside District. (In case you missed it, you can read it by clicking here.)
"To my knowledge, we never have, nor has any paper I'm aware of, covered every killing in a major metro area," the reporter wrote back.
His response led me to believe that he never read my entire post. But I answered: "They're not covering ANY!!!!!"
To which he responded, "Ask the crime reporter. I'm the ________ writer. I don't make assignments or editorial decisions."
Translation: "Not my problem, dude."
So, if you're on a ship and the ship is headed for an iceberg but the captain doesn't see the iceberg, do you try to get his attention?
Judging from this reporter's response, that's someone else's job.
Note to Herald staffers: Now might be a good time to get reacquainted with the route to your lifeboat station.
Saturday, March 08, 2014
Posted by Bill at 1:34 PM
Friday, March 07, 2014
Often assistant city editors, short on space and patience, would insist that I select and report only the “major murder” of the day. I knew what they meant, but I fought the premise. How can you choose?
Every murder is major to the victim.
Sure, it’s simpler to write about only one case and go home. But some strange sense of obligation would not let me do it. The Miami Herald is South Florida’s newspaper of record, and I felt compelled to report every murder, every death on its pages — names, dates, facts — to preserve them in our newspaper, in our files, in our consciousness, on record forever, in black and white. On my days off, or when I worked on other stories or projects, some murders went totally unreported. So I would carefully resurrect them, slipping them into the local section in round-ups, wrap-ups, and trend stories about possibly related cases. There was always a way, you could always find an angle. For instance: Victim number 141 in 1980 proved to be the widower of victim number 330 in 1979.
A bright young reporter I talked to recently casually referred to what he called dirt-bag murders: the cases and the victims not worth reporting. There is no dirt-bag murder. The story is always there waiting to be found if you just dig deep enough. -Edna Buchanan, The Corpse Had a Familiar Face.
|Twenty-three year-old Demetrius Jones was gunned down in broad daylight |
not far from this neighborhood hangout at NW 18th Ave. and 63rd Street.
The Miami Herald never printed one word about his murder.
(Click image to enlarge.)
The King Market in Miami sits across the street from a trash-strewn lot on the corner of NW 18th Ave. and 63rd Street -- a lot that serves as a neighborhood hangout.
With a sign outside that beckons: "Subs, Wings, Burgers," the King Market looks like a hundred other run-down, inner-city outposts in Miami whose owners subsist selling lottery tickets, bags of ice, sodas, beer, cigarettes, candy and gum.
On March 3rd of last year, shortly after 1 p.m., 23-year-old Demetrius Jones was walking south on 18th Ave. near the market when a Nissan Maxima traveling in the opposite direction slowed to a crawl as it approached him. Someone inside rolled down a window, pointed an assault rifle at Jones and shot him numerous times.
"When officers arrived on the scene," according to CBS Miami, "they saw that Jones has been shot multiple times in the torso, face, neck, and legs. Fourteen assault rifle casings were also recovered at the scene."
Four months later police arrested 21 year-old Efram Zimbalist Fitzpatrick and charged him with Jones' murder.
On Nov. 20th, 2013, 72-year-old Roberto Sousa shot three men, killing two, and injuring a third near NW 105th Street and 36th Ave. Sousa then drove to a remote area in Southwest Miami-Dade and shot himself.
A few days later, police took 19-year-old Kendrick Davis into custody and charged him with Hudson's murder.
With just one exception, all of the above murders have three things in common: 1) Both the shooters and victims were African-American, 2) the killings occurred in the Miami-Dade Police Department's Northside District, and, 3) None of the killings were reported by the Miami Herald.
Only the Nov. 20th murders were reported by the Herald. In that incident, the shooter and his three victims were Hispanic. The paper covered the killings with a 132-word story.
All of the above murders, plus 34 others that occurred in the Northside District in 2013, are listed on the Miami-Dade Police Department's General Investigations Unit Contact Shooting Log. (Embedded below.)
I learned of the existence of the Northside District shooting log earlier this week as I watched Local 10's Glenna Milberg report on yet another child wounded in a drive-by shooting.
Milberg wanted to know how many shootings had occurred last year in Northside District where the child lives. So she called Miami-Dade Police, and within an hour or two she had the document.
After watching Milberg's report, I was curious. But for a different reason.
So I also obtained a copy of the shooting log.
The Northside District, it turns out, is a very dangerous place to live.
The log shows that in 2013, 139 shootings occurred. Thirty-nine of those were homicides. And of the 139 shootings, detectives have managed to close just 28 cases. Of the homicides, they've closed only 9. One hundred nine shooting cases in the Northside District remain open or pending.
After looking at the numbers, I began to look at the names of the shooting victims. Then I started to run the names of the victims through the Herald archives.
What I found astounded me.
As far as I can tell, the Miami Herald - South Florida's paper of record for over 100 years, and the winner of two Pulitzer Prizes for its coverage of crime - no longer covers murder. At least not in the Northside District. None of the names of the victims on the Northside District shooting log showed up in the Herald's story archives.
But this is nothing new. For years, the paper has ignored the epidemic of violent crime in some of Miami's poorest neighborhoods.
In 2010, I wrote this about the murder of Michael J. Beatty II in Liberty City.
Two weeks after 20 year-old Michael Beatty was gunned down in broad daylight near NW 15 Avenue & 59th Street in Liberty City, the Herald has yet to print one word on the crime.
Beatty's murder was caught on video from several angles. The video shows a man chasing Beatty with a weapon that resembles a Mac-10. Apparently the editors at the Herald consider a cold-blooded daylight murder in Liberty City just another day in the 'hood not worthy of reporting. Even though the story was reported on the website of a British newspaper.
Three and half years after Michael Beatty was gunned-down in cold blood, the Herald has yet to print one word on his murder.
Would the Herald have ignored the story of Michael Beatty's killing had he been white and had his killer chased him through the Village of Merrick Park in Coral Gables, spraying bullets from a Mac-10?
Or if his killer had shot him dead in front of a swanky half-million dollar Belle Isle condominium on Miami Beach?
By failing to report on violent crime in certain Miami neighborhoods, Herald editors seem to be sending an unequivocal message to their readers in those neighborhoods: "Your life has no worth. You are dirt-bags. We don't care about your story or about how much suffering you endure. It's not our problem. We don't live there. Besides, we're busy working on another page one story on Haiti."
Will any of this ever change? I wish I knew, but I don't have the answers.
But the Herald's managing editor, Rick Hirsch, and executive editor, Mindy Marques, do have the answers.
Why not call or email them and ask?
Rick Hirsch: email@example.com. Phone 305-376-3504.
Mindy Marques: firstname.lastname@example.org. Phone: 305-376-3429.
Posted by Bill at 12:38 PM
Thursday, March 06, 2014
Tuesday, March 04, 2014
Long-time Miami Herald food and features editor Kathy Martin, a 32-year veteran at the paper, is saying goodbye to her colleagues today.
No word yet on who will replace her.
No word yet on who will replace her.
From: Hamersly, Kendall email@example.com
Date: Wed, Feb 5, 2014 at 11:23 AM
Subject: Kathy Martin
To: MIA Newsroom
Kathy's bio is filled with interesting experiences and association with plenty of memorable colleagues. Here it is:
Kathy came to work at the Herald as a City Desk copy editor in 1981 after three years with the AP bureau here. She had moved to Miami from Washington, where she was the press secretary to a congressman from her home state of Wisconsin, an outgrowth of a Medill News Service assignment while she was a graduate student at Northwestern.
What started out as another stop along the way became a long-term commitment after her friend Madeleine Blais set her up with John Dorschner, whom she married in 1983. (The introduction came about after she lamented being dumped by another Herald reporter, so the newspaper was formative in her personal as well as her professional life.)
Her City Desk sojourn included memorable Sunday night-slot shifts editing Edna Buchanan’s weekend murder roundups. She then became the editor of the North Dade Neighbors, overseeing a crackerjack staff that included Lisa Getter, Frank Cerabino, Craig Gemoules and Jeff Weiss.
Her association with the Features Department began in 1985, when she was appointed editor of the Sunday Arts section. After the birth of her first son later that year, she began a 15-year part-time interlude, working variously as assistant arts editor, assistant book editor and assistant food editor. This coincided with an extended period of PTA activism in Miami-Dade County Public Schools that culminated in her successful campaign to oust an unethical and incompetent principal at Horace Mann Middle School.
She became food editor in 1995 upon the departure of her predecessor, Felicia Gressette. She returned to full-time employment in 2000, and soon after the Association of Food Journalists recognized the Herald’s food section as one of the nation’s three best in its circulation category. She ghost wrote the 1994 cookbook “A Taste of Old Cuba” by Maria Josefa de Lluria O’Higgins (HarperCollins) and co-wrote, with Carole Kotkin, “Mmmmiami: Tempting Tropical Tastes for Home Cooks Everywhere” (Henry Holt, 1998).
Since 2009, her responsibilities have expanded to include the Saturday Tropical Life section, jazz and classical music coverage and a host of fixtures. She has also had the pleasure of working with dance and music writer Jordan Levin.
She looks forward to a new career as a freelance editor and writer and to a flexible schedule that will afford more time with her husband and their sons, Andrew Dorschner, 28, a yacht chef, and Peter Dorschner, 25, a medical student
Posted by Bill at 2:06 PM
Monday, March 03, 2014
Last Thursday, some pissed-off Miami police officers showed up at Miami City Hall demanding commissioners restore their pay and benefits that have been cut over the years in an effort to help balance the city's books.
The cops filled the commission chambers, clogged the aisles, and at times, ignored the rules of decorum by shouting their demands at commissioners.
The Miami Herald's Nadege Green tweeted...
What do you do when the pd invade city hall and bring meeting to a halt? Do you call the police? #Miami @miamiherald pic.twitter.com/IEVI0VTnpF
— Nadege C. Green (@NadegeGreen) February 27, 2014
The only commissioner left in the chambers is @KeonHardemon. Everyone else is hiding? Police take over #Miami city hall.
— Nadege C. Green (@NadegeGreen) February 27, 2014
Local 10's veteran political reporter Michael Putney covered the demonstration.
Yesterday, Putney ended his Sunday public affairs show with some thoughts on the cops' behavior last Thursday.
The Miami cops were not just disrespectful and rude, they violated the rules of conduct that apply to anyone who appears before the commission. But all the sergeants-at-arms did was stand by and watch. Of course the sergeants-at-arms are Miami police officers, so what do you expect?
After about 10 minutes of haranguing commissioners the cops left. But then they came back and started banging on the glass windows on the second floor above the commission chamber and yelling demands. Again no one stepped forward to stop them. This is unacceptable.
Commission Chairman Willy Gort should have ordered the officers to pipe down or leave the chamber. But he didn't.
Police Chief Manuel Orosa and other top brass were at city hall. They didn't do anything either.
If a group of angry citizens had behaved this way, they would have been arrested. By allowing the cops to do it, the City of Miami is accepting and setting a double standard. It is a terrible precedent.
Today, the Herald's Charles Rabin and Nadege Green are reporting that Chief Orosa responded Friday to the city hall mob scene with a strongly-worded, department-wide email. (Full text below.)
A day after dozens of Miami police union members stormed City Hall and interrupted a commission meeting, Police Chief Manuel Orosa laid down the law: Do it again and you’ll be prosecuted.Today, according to Rabin and Green, union president Ortiz had this to say about Orosa's email:
What started [last Thursday] as a tame protest by upset police officers became increasingly unruly. They shouted “Regalado gotta go!” referring to Mayor Tomás Regalado, and “Restore pay!”
Stunned observers took photos on their cellphones. Others joked about calling police to quell the unrest. As officers chanted “Second floor, second floor,” they filed out of the chamber and up the steps toward the mayor’s and city manager’s offices.
“Please keep in mind that the disruption of a governmental official meeting is a prosecutable crime. . . . Should this behavior repeat itself, members should expect punitive legal action, up to and including prosecution. I would hope that in the future, none of you allow yourselves to follow misguided individuals who act without first considering the consequences of their action," Orosa said [in his email].
The chief was taking a clear shot at Javier Ortiz, the outspoken president of the Fraternal Order of Police, the police union, who organized last week’s rally in the park.
“Chief Orosa’s letter was him trying to cover up his lack of leadership at last week’s demonstration. I do not condone unprofessionalism or illegal acts. However, we will exercise our First Amendment rights, which if he intends to squash, will result in some bigger challenges for him.Looks like sh*t just got real, y'all!
“A threatening letter will not intimidate us from having our voices heard,” Ortiz said. “This is just the first demonstration this year and you should anticipate many more in the very near future.”
Text of Chief Orosa's email.
At yesterday's City Commission meeting, a group of Miami Fraternal Order of Police members marched to City Hall in order to petition the City Commission to restore their wages and benefits. I fully support any effort to restore lost wages for the difficult and honorable work that you perform every day. A few years ago (prior to becoming Chief), I too lost wages of 12% and 9% in consecutive years of cuts. However, your message must be a peaceful exercise of your First Amendment rights.
Unfortunately, yesterday's demonstration turned into a mob which disrupted a City Commission meeting and placed several administrative employees in fear for their safety. Think about that for a moment. Members of the Miami Police Department, whose mission it is to protect and preserve the public order, disrupted an official City function and placed fellow City employees in fear. [Emphasis mine.] Yesterday's behavior is an embarrassment to both the Miami Police Department and the Fraternal Order of Police. The unruly expression of your frustrations will only serve to alienate the people you need to support your cause.
Please keep in mind that the disruption of a governmental official meeting is a prosecutable crime under Chapters 877.03 and 870.02 of the Florida Statutes. Should this behavior repeat itself, members should expect punitive legal action, up to and including prosecution. I would hope that in the future, none of you allow yourselves to follow misguided individuals who act without first considering the consequences of their actions.
Chief of Police
Posted by Bill at 6:50 PM