Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Canine locomotion



So how cool is it to be a dog? If you've done a good job in picking your owner then you pretty much can count on getting chauffeured around most of the time.

Here's a couple of pooches I spotted this afternoon on Ocean Drive.

That's the Clevelander in the back, by the way, which is still closed for renovations. It doesn't look like it's going to re-open anytime soon.



Miami New Times silent on its own future!



IMPORTANT UPDATE @ 9:30pm: I just got off the phone with Miami New Times on-line editor Jose Duran who commented on part of this post. (see below)

In putting this post together I used a quote from a source who told me that New Times used to pay photographers $150 for on-line slide shows but was now paying $30. That information was erroneous.

Jose tells me that a few other papers in the New Times chain do pay $30 to less experienced photographers for slide shows. However that's not the case here in Miami.

Jose says that he pays based on the photographer's experience but rarely pays less than $100 for slide show.

Jose further explains that he has a weekly budget for freelancers and keeps a tight rein on expenses.

Jose also told me that when he took over as on-line editor at New Times earlier this year he re-examined closely what freelancers were being paid. Wanting to get as much bang for his buck as possible he re-adjusted some freelance rates downward. Jose says that he made that decision entirely on his own and not because of any edict from New Times higher ups. Jose believes that his freelance rates are still fair.

So thanks Jose for setting the record straight. It's not my intention here to pass along bad information.

______

Miami's scrappy and outspoken free-weekly New Times loves to cover controversy and dig up stuff that Miami's mainstream media ignores or just refuses to report.

They're Miami's journalistic equivalent of a turd-in-a-punch-bowl.

But one story they've shied away from is the one that's happening in their own backyard.

It's a story that both the Miami and Broward editions of New Times have avoided. Even Broward New Times press watchdog Bob Norman has been uncharacteristically silent.

As far as I can tell neither paper has printed one word about the deep financial doo-doo that New Times' parent company Village Voice Media finds itself mired in.

But a source tells Random Pixels that Miami New Times is cutting back on freelancer expenses and now only pay shooters $30 for an on-line slide show. "They used to pay $150 and won't use anyone who [now] wants that amount."

Meanwhile New Times' sister paper in New York, the Village Voice, is reportedly "on the balls of its ass financially."
"...expense accounts are essentially a thing of the past. One VV reporter paid out of his own pocket to fly to Ohio and rent a car and a hotel room last week to do a story on the election. Normal after-work events, like a going-away party for an intern at a bar, are being paid out of the editors' own pockets. And, we hear, Voice reporters have been buying their own pens and notebooks because the paper has no extra office supplies."
And just yesterday the Village Voice laid off three more employees "including Nat Hentoff, the prominent columnist who has worked for the paper since 1958, contributing opinionated columns about jazz, civil liberties and politics."

Back in Miami my source predicts that Miami New Times and its Broward sister will merge within six months.

My tipster can't say however, if or when Miami New Times will get around to reporting this story.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Wauwatosa Wisconsin Crime Report

A 70-year-old Wauwatosa man has been arrested for disorderly conduct after he was seen stroking women's hair and arms at AMC Theater in Mayfair Mall.

A woman told a theater manager that an older man sat down in the seat behind her as she was watching a film at about 5 p.m. on Dec. 22 and soon felt him "caressing" her arms.

She thought it was strange he chose to sit there since there were only a few people in the theater and plenty of open seats with better views.

Herald land sale put on hold

UPDATED with link to Herald story.
___

The McClatchy Company [Miami Herald's parent company] announced today that it has extended the closing date of its agreement to sell 10 acres of land adjacent to The Miami Herald in order to allow the buyer additional time to arrange financing in this difficult credit environment.

The purchase price remains unchanged at $190 million -- $10 million of which McClatchy has already received in the form of a nonrefundable deposit.

With the acquisition of Knight-Ridder, Inc. in 2006, McClatchy inherited an agreement to sell The Miami Herald's 10-acre parking lot with no expiration date on the deal. The contract had subsequently been amended to require closing by Dec. 31, 2008.

Today's totally unnecessary Miami Herald front page story

Formerly "hip" Miamians having fun AND saving money by partying at home!
___

The Herald reports today on its front page that because of a slowing economy Miami's "hip crowd is bypassing the $15 drinks at the bar in favor of mixing them at home for less money."
"We've been forced to look at different alternatives, but we found we can get creative," said [Manuel] Vacas, 28, who recently found a job doing accounting for a property management company. "It's more personal. It's more intimate. We're probably having more fun this way."
Now there's some earth-shaking news you can use.

The Herald somehow managed to find an accountant who discovered it's cheaper - and "probably more fun" - to buy liquor and mixers and stay at home rather than spend hundreds of dollars for the same drinks at a club!

The only question the Herald's Elaine Walker doesn't answer in her top-notch example of investigative journalism: Are Vacas and his home bound friends any less "hip" now that they don't go to clubs?

I can't wait for the follow-up!

Note to Herald editors: Don't forget to include this gem in your Pulitzer package!


...
FOOTNOTE: Maybe it's just me, but perhaps it's stories like this that are causing the Herald's subscriber base to keep shrinking.

And while the Herald's website ranks in the top 25 of newspaper sites I think it's telling that visitors are spending increasingly less time on the site. Could the recent "re-design" have something to do with that?

Monday, December 29, 2008

If you surf the 'net at work...be careful!

WEST PALM BEACH — Thirteen city employees accused of using office computers for sexual content or religious slurs have been axed or resigned in an ongoing investigation that cuts across department lines.

West Palm Beach spokesman Peter Robbins said today that more firings are likely in the probe by the Human Resources Division, as investigators follow a trail of e-mails sent and Web sites viewed. Since October three people have been fired and 10 resigned, with the most recent departure on Dec. 16, he said.

"Every investigated person "A" leads to person "B," Robbins said.

"It's not being done by department; it's being done by the record of the communications themselves."

The disappearing newspaper


via Romenesko.

A few items from around the internet today on the current depressing state of newspapers. How long before we hear similar bad news from the Herald?

The Craigslist effect: Cincinnati Enquirer to stop running classified ads on Mondays and Tuesdays

Iowa newspaper suspends print operations

Colorado newspaper stops publishing

Older news:

Seattle Times tells 500 employees to take 5 days of unpaid furlough

Detroit newspapers cut home delivery

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

News from One Herald Plaza

Good news for all of you who are fans (and who isn't?) of the Herald's Ace Crime Reporter David Ovalle.

The Herald is re-assigning David from Miami's mean streets to covering courts at the Metro Justice Building.

Here's the announcement sent out to the Herald newsroom on Monday:
METRO COURTS: The Metro Desk is happy to announce that David Ovalle will be moving from cops to courts, a natural progression from one premiere beat to another. David will walk through the courthouse doors already hooked in with the cops, lawyers and prosecutors whose stories he will so ably be telling.

Heck, he'll even know some of the defendants whose [alleged] crimes he covered over the last three years -- everyone from the serial rapist who broke out of jail to sex-scandal cover-up participants at Northwestern to the killers of babies and police officers.

David hails from San Diego and joined the Herald in 2002 after graduating from the University of Southern California. After two years in Northeast Neighbors and one year as a Metro GA, David began on the cops beat in November 2005. He'll be starting his new duties after the New Year, when Susannah Nesmith [current court reporter] starts as our new multimedia liaison.
David's one the best reporters ever to pursue a story in this town. I can't wait to read what he digs up at the three-ring circus at 1351 NW 12th Street AKA the Richard E. Gerstein Justice Building!

Good luck David!

Thanks everyone!

When I started this blog back in March of this year I had no idea if I'd still be with it in April.

Now it's 10 months later and I'm still at it.

When I started I wasn't sure what path I'd take.

I knew I wasn't going to be posting pictures of half-eaten plates of food on Lincoln Road or stories of my trips to Publix or how I spent my summer vacation. There are blogs that post that kind of stuff and I find them incredibly boring.

All I wanted to do was post a story or two a day that would make my readers laugh or say: "Wow, I didn't know that!"

I also wanted to use the knowledge that I've picked up as a journalist in the past 25 years in this town and shed some light on things that don't get talked about much.

I wasn't looking for tens of thousands of readers.

I just wanted to reach the one office worker on Brickell Avenue, the soccer mom on Key Biscayne and the half dozen or so readers in the Herald newsroom (I know who you are!) who, finding themselves a little bored after lunch, stopped for a minute or two to see what was on my mind.

I knew when I started this I wasn't going to be getting any journalism awards and certainly no one was going to be offering me any six-figure book deals.

But I was pleasantly surprised this morning when I clicked on New Times Riptide 2.0 and learned that New Times writer Kyle Munzenrieder called this blog (along with Carlos Miller's blog) "two of Miami's best blogs."

And that makes everything I've done for the past 10 months worth every minute.

And if you're one of the several hundred people who stop by a few times a day; thanks! I hope you like what you see here and that you'll stick with me. I'll try to do better!

Here's hoping everyone has a great Christmas!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Got any spare change?

If you have 75 cents you can buy a share of stock in the Miami Herald's parent company McClatchy. That was the price at the close of business today.

That makes the Sunday edition of the Miami Herald worth more than a share of McClatchy stock. Even a cup of coffee at Starbucks costs more.

Five years ago McClatchy stock went for $67.99 a share.

And prior to McClatchy acquiring Miami Herald parent Knight Ridder in 2006 its stock was in the $50 range.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Where's Carlos Alvarez Jr.?

Yesterday Miami learned - thanks to the Herald's Joan Fleischman - that Carlos Alvarez Jr., son of Miami Dade mayor Carlos Alvarez, has been released from prison after doing 13 ½ years for kidnapping and a series of violent sexual assaults committed in 1994.

Joan apparently got tipped to this story and did some old-fashioned digging and broke it exclusively, leaving the rest of the Miami media to play catch up.

Not much has been written about Carlos Jr. since he went to prison in 1995. I could find only one story in the Herald archives that was published after his sentencing:

POLICEMAN'S SON GETS 18 YEARS FOR SEX ASSAULTS
Miami Herald, The (FL) - Saturday, March 25, 1995
Author: MANNY GARCIA Herald Staff Writer

Carlos Alvarez Jr ., son of a high-ranking Metro-Dade police chief, pleaded guilty Friday to sexually assaulting three girls and terrorizing several others.

Judge Lauren Levy Miller gave Alvarez Jr . 18 years in prison followed by 10 years probation -- a sentence agreed to by the Dade state attorney's office and defense lawyers.

Margaret Bisignani, assistant chief prosecutor with the sexual battery unit, explained the deal: "The victims collectively had expressed a desire that they did not want to testify," she said. "Everyone just wanted an end."

Alvarez Jr . is the son of Carlos Alvarez Sr., Metro's assistant director for police services. He could have received up to 30 years under the plea agreement, life in prison if he had gone to trial and lost.

Defense attorneys Douglas Hartman and C. Michael Cornely argued against prison time, saying Alvarez Jr . needs long-term psychological care.

Hartman said Alvarez Jr . had been repeatedly hospitalized for behavioral and psychological problems just before his arrest.

Alvarez Jr ., who had no prior criminal record, went on a two-month sexual rampage last year in Kendall:

* On March 23, Alvarez Jr . asked a girl for directions on Southwest 108th Avenue and 88th Street. He said he had a gun, threatened to kill her and demanded she show him her breasts. The girl ran away.

* On April 25, Alvarez Jr . asked a girl for directions on Southwest 108th Avenue and 93rd Street. He said he had a gun, ordered the girl into his car and exposed himself. She ran off.

* On May 13, Alvarez Jr . accosted a 20-year-old woman while she skated on Southwest 123rd Avenue and 82nd Street. He threatened to run the woman over unless she climbed into his car. Once she did, Alvarez Jr . showed her a knife and forced her to perform oral sex on him.

* On May 26, Alvarez Jr . tried to kidnap a girl at knifepoint while she sat on a bus bench at Southwest 117th Avenue and 88th Street. The girl ran off.

* One hour and 15 minutes later, Alvarez Jr . lured two teenage girls into his car at the Town & Country Center in Kendall. He pulled a knife and sexually assaulted the girls, ages 14 and 16.

Alvarez Jr . will serve time in a youthful offender prison, where young inmates have more opportunity for schooling and psychological counseling. Both sides agreed to house him with younger inmates because he is the son of a police officer.

Hartman, the defense lawyer, complained that his client was harshly punished because he is the son of a cop.

"I really think because he was Carlos Alvarez Jr . he paid the price."

The case was a sensitive one for both prosecutors and Metro police, two agencies that have to work together to prosecute criminals.

Metro conducted an internal review after a photographic lineup could not be found in the property room. It turned out to have been temporarily misplaced.
Joan's story yesterday was only the tip of the iceberg and leaves many questions unanswered.

Here are a few follow-up questions that need to be asked by the Herald and the rest of Miami's media:


  • Alvarez was released on Oct 1. Was there any warning given to the public that an extremely violent sex offender was being released into the community?
  • According to the FDLE's website Alvarez is living at 6890 SW 44th Street in Miami. That places him very close to many different municipalities: Miami, West Miami, South Miami, Coral Gables, and Pinecrest. Has the Fla Dept. of Parole and Probation notified the law enforcement authorities in these cities?
  • Have officials at neighboring schools been notified of this man's release into the community?
  • Did anyone have to approve of Alvarez's move into this apartment complex and did anyone tell the complex management of Alvarez's violent past? Are there children living in his apartment complex?
  • How often do parole and probation officials check on Alvarez's movements?
  • What restrictions are placed on his travel? Does he have a car that allows him to move freely about the community?
  • And last, will Alvarez be required to live under a bridge at night? And if not, why not?
  • Carlos Alvarez Jr. is an extremely violent and dangerous sexual predator. He didn't spend almost 14 years in prison for singing too loud in church or for having sex with an under aged girlfriend. He terrorized innocent young women. He needs to be watched closely.

    Any law enforcement official will tell you that a criminal with a violent past such as Alvarez Jr. will more than likely offend again. They'll also tell you that the next time he'll probably be more careful and won't leave any witnesses.

    And that's a frightening thought. Especially for women who live near SW 68th Ave. and 44th Street.



    Sunday, December 21, 2008

    Joanie returns to her old form!

    A great big Random Pixels "atta girl" goes to Joan Fleischman for breaking the news in this morning's paper that Miami-Dade mayor Carlos Alvarez's son, Carlos A. Alvarez Jr., is free after doing a hard 13½ years in stir for rape, kidnapping, false imprisonment, and lewd and lascivious assault on a child under 16.

    It was vintage Joan Fleischman.

    Joan scooped everyone reporting that young Carlos has been out since Oct. 1.

    She left the rest of Miami's media in the dust. They either dropped the ball on the story on have chosen not to report it. And if there's been a conspiratorial cone of silence among the Miami media decision makers in not reporting Carlos Jr.'s release, Joan evidently didn't get the memo.

    If any of the local TV news outlets have reported the story of Alvarez's release there's no evidence on their websites.

    It wouldn't be the first time that the news media in Miami have given Mayor Alvarez a free pass. Rebecca Wakefield reported back in Oct. 2006 that local journalists chose not to report Carlos Jr.'s troubles for fear that Alvarez Sr.'s opponents would use it against him.

    Three years ago Miami New Times editor Chuck Strouse penned a piece that documented some of the misdeeds of the progeny of Miami's top movers and shakers. No surprise that Carlos Jr., who according to Strouse is a scary 6-4 and 300 pounds, made the list.

    Joan took a buyout from the Herald back in October at around the same time of Carlos Jr.'s release and now freelances for the paper.

    But that doesn't mean she's been lazy or that her phone has stopped ringing.

    Joan concludes her report by writing that Carlos Jr. "could not be reached for comment."

    Maybe she - or some of Miami's media - could check under the bridge.

    Saturday, December 20, 2008

    Why are right wingers so dense?



    So there's this blog called McClatchy Watch. It's kind of like the west coast version of Babalu blog.

    It's hard to tell what the guy who runs it hates most: Barack Obama or McClatchy Newspapers.

    Nothing would please him more than to see McClatchy go out of business; something about McClatchy's liberal agenda... yadda yadda yadda. (Yawn!)

    And during the campaign he did nothing but post lies, half-truths and outright smears about Obama. His blog seethes with hate

    And now that Obama's been elected he's turned his attention to wondering why the media are publishing special editions, posters and mementos commemorating Obama's election.

    One of his most persistent questions is "Maybe I just don't remember -- did newspapers sell stuff like this after Bush won in 2000 and 2004?"

    Today he posted an item about McClatchy Newspapers publishing a book marking Obama's ascendency to the highest office in the land in which he again asks the question: "Funny, I don't remember McClatchy selling Bush books and posters and mugs in 2000 and 2004."

    Seems this guy is more than a little dense. He just can't seem to come to grips with the fact that Obama's election was a historic milestone and that the only thing historic about Bush's election was the fact that he stole it.

    But maybe he'll be able to figure it all out in the next 4 years! And then again, maybe not.

    30 days and counting!

    In a poll by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, respondents were asked to volunteer their assessments of how Bush would be remembered after he leaves office.

    The most frequent response, from 56 people, was "incompetent," followed by "idiot," "arrogant," "ignorant," "stupid," and so on. Nine people volunteered a three-letter synonym for donkey.
    Only nine?

    Miami skyline from South Beach ... Saturday, 5:41pm


    View is from Southgate Towers at 9th Street and West Ave. Click image to enlarge.

    Thursday, December 18, 2008

    Geez; this is getting bad!

    For those of you participating in the Herald Death Pool (sadistic bastards!) we bring you this bit of depressing news: Miami Herald parent McClatchy's stock is down over 30% today from an open of $1.49 a share to 99 cents a share at about 3:30pm EST.

    But we do have some good news. The Herald is reporting Seven kids have been honored as heroes for saving puppy's life!
    By BREANNE GILPATRICK

    The students say they didn't think they were doing anything special.

    But a local animal organization says they're heroes and plans to honor them Thursday for saving a puppy shoved down a sewer grate earlier this year in Miami.

    Humane Educators Reaching Out, a local humane education organization, is scheduled to present awards to seven Miami-Dade school students at ceremonies Thursday morning at Lenora Brayon Smith Elementary School and Allapattah Middle School.

    The students -- Janika Viel, 10, and Jakara Viel, Paulemy Senat, Rantrell Johnson, Dominique Lowe, Ladena Parks and Julian Brown, all 13 -- were out playing when they saw someone stuffing Winnie, a German shepherd mix, down a sewer grate.

    One of them ran to find the neighborhood's local ''dog lady,'' who crawled into the sewer and retrieved Winnie after another neighbor pried off a nearby manhole cover.

    The incident severely broke one of the dog's rear legs, which had to be amputated, but those honoring the children say their efforts likely saved Winnie's life.


    Wednesday, December 17, 2008

    Learn photography from a pro!




    From time to time I get queries from people who have purchased a new camera but suddenly realize that they have no idea how to use it.

    I'm now offering personal one-on-one classes where you can learn the basics of photography from a published pro. Or take your basic skills to the next level.

    My work has been published in virtually every newspaper and magazine in the world.

    And now you can pick my brain and benefit from my 30+ years as a working pro.

    I'm available to tutor you in the following areas:

  • Portraiture
  • Lighting
  • Scenics
  • Glamour and models
  • Photojournalism
  • Studio photography
  • Close ups
  • Composition
  • Night photography
  • Proper lens selection
  • ....and much, much more.

    Email me for more details.
  • Was there ever any doubt?

    Obama is TIME magazine's Person of the Year

    ___

    Footnote: Among the finalists: Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin. Of course she's always been an also-ran starting in 1984 when she came in second in the Miss Alaska pageant.

    We can only hope nothing happens to change that.

    Sarah Palin: Second place finisher and the punchline to a million jokes.

    Drop us a line...

    Just a reminder that we always welcome emails and comments from our readers.

    Let us know what you like about the blog.

    And what you don't like.

    What you want to see more of ....and less of. You can always leave a comment. We don't censor comments here at Random Pixels. Just be nice.

    And if you have a tip about something newsworthy or something you think is interesting, we want to hear from you also. Just shoot a note to newshawk@gmail.com All tips are kept confidential.

    Monday, December 15, 2008

    Miami Herald plagiarizes itself

    Things must be getting really bad at the Herald.

    The paper is facing shrinking revenue, circulation, staff and resources. And it now appears that story ideas are also on the endangered list at the Herald.

    This Sunday's paper carried a story on FPL's Turkey Point Power Plant and the crocodiles that inhabit the 6800 acres of cooling canals that surround the plant.

    It's a great story ... the problem is that the Herald has printed it before. Lots of times.

    And Sunday's story offered little new information. The story that crocodiles are drawn to the warm water in the cooling canals is an old and familiar one in the pages of the Herald.

    But every few years some writer at the Herald feels compelled to recycle the story.

    I did a search and found some 68 references in the Herald archives since 1982 where the phrase "crocodiles" and "Turkey Point" exist in the same story.

    Herewith a few excerpts from the Herald's archives:
  • 2007 UP FRONT - THE EVERGLADES: A croc comeback: They're no longer endangered - The rebound of American crocodiles in South Florida will take them off the federal endangered species list.
    Miami Herald, The (FL) - Wednesday, March 21, 2007
    Author: CURTIS MORGAN, cmorgan@MiamiHerald.com

    American crocodiles , once reduced to a few hundred reclusive reptiles hidden among the mangroves of the deep Everglades, are crawling off the endangered species list.
    [...]
    "Everywhere there is some protected land along the coast, you're going to find a croc there," said private wildlife biologist Joe Wasilewski, who has spent 20 years surveying crocodiles in one of the havens where they've flourished -- the maze of cooling canals around Florida Power & Light's Turkey Point nuclear plant on Biscayne Bay.
    ___

  • 2004 CROCS GIVEN A FIGHTING CHANCE
    Miami Herald, The (FL) - Tuesday, July 6, 2004
    Author: NICHOLAS SPANGLER, nspangler@herald.com

    The canals next to the Turkey Point nuclear power plant are crawling with crocodiles , and one night the crocs came out.
    They fed on snook and ibis and each other. They tended their eggs, laid in holes dug out of the berms above the canals. The eggs shook and rolled. The hatchlings bleated from inside. When they emerged - dozens of them under the moon's dim light - the holes writhed.

    This was late, the end of a night that began hours before when Joe Wasilewski and Jon Holderman shoved off from the dock in their airboat.
    ___

  • 2002 CROC AROUND THE CLOCK
    The Miami Herald - Wednesday, July 17, 2002
    Author: DANIEL CHANG, dchang@herald.com

    The 6-foot-long crocodile does not want to be disturbed.

    It hisses and snaps at its handler, who appears calm despite several near misses by the animal's powerful jaws. ``One of the tricks is these things tire out very quickly,'' says Joe Wasilewski, clutching the crocodile by the tail.
    ___

  • 1993 BUMPER CROP OF RARE BABIES BOOSTS SPECIES
    Miami Herald, The (FL) - Saturday, July 17, 1993
    Author: JOHN DONNELLY Herald Staff Writer

    Joe Wasilewski aims his spotlight up and down the shoreline from his airboat, searching in the night for red light -- the beady eyes of the endangered American crocodile .

    In the darkness along the Florida Power & Light canals about 30 miles south of downtown Miami, he suddenly wiggles his light on a clump of mangroves. "Oh, my God in heaven," he says.

    There, eyes everywhere. A string of ruby stars.

    He finds a couple dozen day-old crocodiles , called hatchlings, 10-inch-long, tender-bellied babies, one of the most startling sights left in the American wild.

    Only 400 to 500 of the shy adult reptiles are believed to exist in the United States. Only about 30 crocodile nests are known in the southern reaches of Florida. Only three places in the country are known breeding spots.

    Here is one of the three. In the 168 miles of two-decade- old canals south of the Turkey Point nuclear power plant, waterways accessible only to those approved by FPL, a few of the rare Crocodylus acutus dig nests each spring. Each July and August, their babies hatch.
    ___

  • 1989 CROCODILES FIND IT COMFY IN TURKEY POINT 'S CANALS
    Miami Herald, The (FL) - Thursday, May 25, 1989
    Author: ANNE-MARIE O'CONNOR Herald Staff Writer

    The cooling canals of the Turkey Point nuclear power plant have become a refuge for crocodiles and now host one of their largest U.S. colonies, scientists say.

    The American crocodiles , an endangered species, first began to nest at Turkey Point in 1978, six years after the plant was activated. The isolation of the canals -- inaccessible to the public -- the warm water and raised banks make it an ideal place to raise newborn crocodiles , which hatch in July and August, scientists say.

    The crocodile population at Turkey Point has grown to between 30 and 40 since then, and the area near the plant now hosts 14 percent of the crocodiles ' U.S. nesting sites, according to Frank Mazzotti, South Florida wildlife specialist for the Cooperative Extension Service. "The population is continuing to increase," he said.
  • The story of Joe Wasilewski and his work with crocs at Turkey Point is interesting and compelling. I worked on the same story with writer Rick Bragg for the New York Times back in June 1999. We did it once.

    I'm at a loss to explain, however, why the editors at the Herald seem to think it's good journalism to print, what is essentially the same story, over and over again.

    Maybe they think that most of their readers have short memories. Most...but not all!

    More bad news at Miami Herald parent McClatchy


    From Editor and Publsher:
    McClatchy November Ad Revenue Plunges 22%
    November was no month for thanksgiving at The McClatchy Co., with The Miami Herald parent reporting Monday that total revenue for the month dropped 19.4% compared to a year ago on advertising revenue that plunged 22.4%.
    McClatchy's stock price was $1.80 shortly before 1pm today.

    Thursday, December 11, 2008

    Who are these people?

    A Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll showing Barack Obama gaining support from the American public also includes this puzzling statistic:
    "Just 18% say they are going to miss him [Bush] when he is gone, half the number Mr. Clinton recorded on his way out of office."
    No surprise there. But my question to those 18 per centers is why on earth would you even admit to something like that? And please tell me what you are going miss most about him. I'd love to know!

    Here's another number: 39. That's the number of days Bush has left in office.

    Wednesday, December 10, 2008

    Is the Miami Herald for sale? Let's ask the boss

    McClatchy Company Chairman and CEO Gary Pruitt has commented (sort of) on reports that the company is selling the Herald.

    At the UBS Global Media and Communications conference in New York Tuesday Pruitt said:
    "...he wouldn’t have a comment. On his way out, BusinessWeek’s Jon Fine asked, “Not even a wink on Miami Herald?” Pruitt responded, “Not even a twinkle.”

    Pruitt also said that McClatchy's total ad revenues through October are down 17.4 percent and a large portion of that is not coming back. Looking ahead, Pruitt didn’t sugarcoat it, "Our current results are lousy and the economy is worsening. 2009 will start ugly, but we expect it to improve." And with over $2 billion in debt—Pruitt insisted that it is steadily being reduced.
    Not a very rosy picture. Does this mean more staff cuts at the Herald early next year? Rumors persist. Stay tuned.

    Tuesday, December 09, 2008

    Today's ridiculous Miami Herald headline


    Kidnapping ends happily

    Let's see if I have this straight: A guy gets kidnapped, has a hood wrapped around his head while he's driven around for two hours and pistol-whipped. The kidnappers demand $5,000 and if they don't get it they threaten to kill his family.

    But it all ended happily because he was released?

    Just imagine if that same headline writer had been working at a paper at the end of WWII:

    Concentration camp ordeal ends happily for liberated survivors!

    Ok, now I get it...you can put a happy face on just about any story!

    Maybe someone should buy the Herald ...and then promptly close it!

    The Random Pixels Chuck E. Cheese Crime Blotter!

    Brookfield, Wisconsin, is a sleepy suburb of Milwaukee with a population of just under 40,000. It has low unemployment. About 50% of the residents have a college degree. In a bad year the police department might handle one murder. Arson and rape are almost non-existent.

    If you're thinking that this is a great place to live you'd be right.

    That is if you stay away from the local Chuck E. Cheese!

    According to today's Wall Street Journal:
    In Brookfield, Wis., no restaurant has triggered more calls to the police department since last year than Chuck E. Cheese's.

    Officers have been called to break up 12 fights, some of them physical, at the child-oriented pizza parlor since January 2007. The biggest melee broke out in April, when an uninvited adult disrupted a child's birthday party. Seven officers arrived and found as many as 40 people knocking over chairs and yelling in front of the restaurant's music stage, where a robotic singing chicken and the chain's namesake mouse perform.

    [...]

    "The biggest problem is you have a bunch of adults acting like juveniles," says Town of Brookfield Police Capt. Timothy Imler. "There's a biker bar down the street, and we rarely get calls there."

    Sunday, December 07, 2008

    More So. Fla. newspaper woes

    It's been a rough year for South Florida's daily newspapers.

    The Palm Beach Post, South Florida Sun-Sentinel and the Miami Herald have all cut hundreds of jobs in an effort to stem losses due in part to declining readership and ad revenue.

    The Palm Beach Post recently cut 300 jobs in the paper's Production, Mailroom and Transportation departments after announcing that the paper will now be printed at the Sun-Sentinel's Deerfield Beach printing plant.

    And we learned yesterday that the Herald - which has already been hit by two rounds of job cuts - may be up for sale by parent company McClatchy.

    Now comes word that the privately-held Tribune Company - which owns the Sun-Sentinel - "has hired bankruptcy advisers as the ailing newspaper company faces a potential bankruptcy filing," according to a post on the New York Times website.

    All three South Florida newspaper now have content sharing arrangements in what was once one of Florida's most competitive newspaper markets.

    Earlier this year the Sun-Sentinel and the Miami Herald entered into a distribution deal in which each paper now delivers one another's products in their respective counties.

    Readers of the Herald have noticed for months the effect that the belt-tightening and job cuts at the paper have had on both the quality and quantity of news produced by what was once one of the Southeast's most prestigious, powerful and influential information sources.

    Look for more cost-saving agreements and consolidation of resources between the three papers in the months to come. The bosses at all three publications undoubtedly are finally coming to the realization that their hopes for survival are now inextricably linked.

    Saturday, December 06, 2008

    Pssst...wanna buy a newspaper?

    The New York Times is reporting that the McClatchy Company "has approached potential buyers for The [Miami] Herald."
    "The people briefed on the company’s plans say The Herald generates a very slim operating margin and that the most attractive part of any deal could be its prime waterfront real estate. But the Florida real estate market is in deep recession — one of the reasons for the struggles of the paper, which used to benefit from heavy real estate advertising."
    The Times posted this story Friday evening but as of Saturday at 1pm there appeared to be nothing regarding "the sale" on the Herald's website.

    Thursday, December 04, 2008

    True love hits a speed bump in the drive-thru


    ...
    A Vero Beach man is accused of assaulting his girlfriend multiple times with a McDonald's cheeseburger, according to his arrest affidavit.
    "The couple began arguing and Gonzalez would not allow her to leave the car, the affidavit said. The woman threw Gonzalez's drink out of the car, the report said. In response, Gonzalez grabbed the woman's arm and forced the cheeseburger into her face."
    Looks like some anger management classes are in the future for both of these young lovers.

    Tuesday, December 02, 2008

    Sarah Palin...still clueless

    One of the things that frequently pops up in Sarah Palin's speeches and interviews is the mention of her son who is serving in Iraq.

    Sarah wants her followers to know that as commander of Alaska's National Guard and a mom with a son in combat, she stands solidly behind America's fighting men and women.

    However apparently that support doesn't extend to veterans.

    Palin was in Georgia Monday campaigning for Republican Saxby Chambliss for which she's taking some heat from those back in Alaska who think she's neglecting more important business at home.

    Another thing being neglected by Palin is a little piece of political history attached to Chambliss. Anchorage Daily News editor Matt Zencey explains:
    I wonder if [Palin] knows the true measure of the man she is eagerly helping.

    Chambliss was elected to the Senate in 2002 by running one of the most reprehensible campaigns of modern times. He was up against incumbent Democrat Sen. Max Cleland, a Vietnam War veteran who lost both legs and his right arm to a grenade during that conflict.

    Chambliss avoided serving in Vietnam. He got four student draft deferments, and when his number finally came up, he was medically disqualified with knee troubles.

    In the best Karl Rove fashion, Chambliss the draft-evader attacked Cleland the war hero for being soft on terrorism. Distorting Cleland’s votes about workplace rules for the new Homeland Security Department employees, Chambliss portrayed him as a tool of terrorists like Osama bin Laden.

    [...]

    So there you have the fine American that Palin is trying to re-elect to the U.S. Senate.

    Gov. Palin’s eldest joined the Army and has been deployed to Iraq. As a justifiably proud military mom, she might ask herself why she is using her conservative star power to support such a reprehensible Republican chicken hawk.
    Palin's not alone in supporting this clown. Her running mate John McCain stumped for Chambliss in Georgia a week after his defeat.

    This is the same John McCain who once called Chambliss's ads smearing Cleland "worse than disgraceful. It's reprehensible."

    But the unanswered question is that if Chambliss avoided serving in Vietnam, why are Palin and McCain "palling around" with him?

    And if any Republicans out there want to explain why they think that Palin is their best hope in 2012, I'm all ears.

    Monday, December 01, 2008

    Is this a great town, or what?

    Here's a guy who's figured out a solution to Miami's homeless problem. From the Associated Press:
    By TAMARA LUSH

    MIAMI - Max Rameau delivers his sales pitch like a pro. "All tile floor!" he says during a recent showing. "And the living room, wow! It has great blinds."

    But in nearly every other respect, he is unlike any real estate agent you've ever met. He is unshaven, drives a beat-up car and wears grungy cut-off sweat pants. He also breaks into the homes he shows. And his clients don't have a dime for a down payment.

    Rameau is an activist who has been executing a bailout plan of his own around Miami's empty streets: He is helping homeless people illegally move into foreclosed homes.
    Let me see if I have this straight...he's moving people who can't afford housing into homes that don't belong to him, but that once had owners who couldn't afford them either. Brilliant business model!

    Rameau is the same guy who set up and ran the squatters village on city-owned land in the 'hood....until it burned down last year.

    The story ends with this line: "So far, police have not gotten involved."

    Let's see how long that lasts!

    Sunday, November 23, 2008

    Sunday afternoon on Lincoln Road...

    ...outside the Victoria's Secret store

    Lincoln Road and Meridian Ave.

    Scratch and sniff...

    Thursday, November 20, 2008

    From Random Pixels Rumor Control Desk...

    I was taken aback the other day when I read some rumors in the comments section of Rick's SFDB that said that Books and Books on Lincoln Road is closing.

    Trying to imagine Lincoln Road without Books and Books is like trying to imagine the Miami Herald without Carl Hiaasen or Miami City Hall without corrupt politicians! It's beyond comprehension!

    One of the things I despise most about the Internet are the proliferation outright lies and rumors.

    Rumors are so unnecessary because it's just as easy to verify information as it is to post something that has no basis in fact.

    (I'm not blaming Rick in this case because he pretty much tries not to censor comments.)

    However I have no respect for those who post falsehoods without even bothering to check to see if their information is true. Writing that a business is closing when in fact it's not is irresponsible.

    All anyone had to do was drop a note to Books and Books owner Mitchell Kaplan and ask him if the Lincoln Rd store was indeed closing. Mitchell is one of the most accessible people in Miami.

    That's what I did. And Mitchell responded:
    "Bill, we’re not closing…the cafĂ© is staying right where it is…but, the store will be moving within the building right next to Design Within Reach, where Base Annex was…We’ll be relocating after the 1st…Thanks for your concern, but we’re in good shape…Mitchell."
    See how easy that was .....SuperBee?

    Mitchell tells me that he'll be making an official announcement in early December.

    But just remember...you read it here first. And that ain't no rumor!

    Monday, November 17, 2008

    Herald honchos hit a few sour notes

    Some strange news filtering out from the Herald:

    Sources tell me that a select group of Miami Herald executives were involved in some sort of a one-day workshop the week before last (apparently after the election) at the posh Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables.

    The secret, invitation-only meeting was attended by Herald department heads and top editors.

    According to a source the purpose of the meeting was to get key decision-makers at the troubled paper together in one place to plan strategies and come up with innovative ideas on which direction to take the paper.

    Details are sketchy but the source reveals that at some point all those attending broke up into small groups and participated in various exercises designed to motivate them.

    One of the exercises consisted of group members picking a popular song and rewriting the words to illustrate the Herald's predicament and possible solutions. One group picked the song "I Will Survive," rewrote the words and then sang it. Said one participant: "It was embarrassing."

    Word of the summit is slowly making its way through the newsroom which has been decimated by staff cuts. As the Herald continues to experience unprecedented declines in revenue and circulation, some staffers are incredulous that the paper is wasting time and money on "foolishness" instead of coming up with concrete ideas regarding the paper's survival.

    Note to Herald execs: There probably won't be time for a second chorus...things are reaching the crisis stage.

    Tuesday, November 11, 2008

    The Miami Herald ... embarrassing



    From The Who's In Charge at The Herald? Dept:

    Barack Obama's visit to the White House Monday as president-elect was a significant moment in this country's history.

    So how did South Florida's newspaper of record choose to mark the occasion today? They marred the solemnity of the moment with a flip headline that denigrated and disparaged Obama's visit.

    Compare the Herald's front page with that of two New York tabloids that ran the same photo.
    Even the headline writers at the NY Post - not normally known for their restraint when it comes to tasteless headlines - took a day off. The editors documented the occasion with all the solemnity they could muster by running an extremely powerful photograph of an extraordinary moment without resorting to a snarky headline.

    Barack Obama's going to be our president for at least the next four years so I'm sure the editors/pranksters at the Herald will be coming up with more cute and hip headlines when the mood strikes them. But if they run short of ideas perhaps they can call upon this hilarious guy at the Murfreesboro Post in Tennessee for some guidance.

    Sarah Palin still doesn't get it

    The pundits keep mentioning Sarah Palin as the Republican's best hope in 2012. I wonder if those same pundits are paying any attention to the things that are coming out of her mouth since losing the election. And her propensity to rewrite history ... especially very recent history.

    Take this example re-posted here from Romenesko:


    Palin says Couric's question about what newspapers she reads was "annoying"
    Sarah Palin tells Matt Lauer: "You know, questions about, well, you know, 'What do you read up there in Alaska?' To me that was a little bit annoying. Because I'm like, what do you mean, what do I read in Alaska? I read the same things that you guys read in New York. And there in LA and in Washington state. What do you mean what I read up there?" But Couric didn't ask what Palin read up there in Alaska. She asked: "What newspapers and magazines did you regularly read before you were tapped for this to stay informed and to understand the world?"
    If this is who the Republicans are pinning their hopes on in 2012 who am I to argue? Let's get it on!

    Saturday, November 08, 2008

    Obama on election night...the unseen photos

    To me, one of the most distinct and glaring differences between Barack Obama and John McCain was how each candidate used technology in their campaign.

    Sure, they both had websites, Facebook and Youtube pages.

    But Obama's campaign seemed to be everywhere that McCain wasn't. They used every tool available on the net to reach out and touch voters. Contrast that with McCain who admits he doesn't know how to use the Internet or e-mail.

    So it should come as no surprise to learn that Barack Obama has a Flickr page.

    Looks like they've been posting stuff there for quite a while.

    But the photos that are getting the most attention are the ones that have been posted in the past day or two of intimate behind the scenes images taken on election night by his personal photographer.

    I wonder if John McCain has Flickr page? Or if he even knows what Flickr is?

    Friday, November 07, 2008

    We're not the only country with an idiot in charge!

    From the NY Times:
    ROME — Italians never quite know whether to laugh or cry at Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi. But many of the most seasoned reacted with incredulity and outrage after the prime minister, visiting Moscow on Thursday, amiably called the first African-American president-elect in history “young, handsome and suntanned.”
    [...]
    Many Italian newspapers gave the comment nearly as much front-page attention as Mr. Obama’s victory itself, with the journalist Curzio Maltese writing in the center-left La Repubblica that “bookmakers wouldn’t even take bets” on how long it would take for Mr. Berlusconi to let slip another of his famous gaffes. “Mr. Berlusconi never fails to live up to our worst expectations,” he wrote.
    "....never fails to live up to our worst expectations." Hmmm, who does that remind you of?

    MuttsLikeMe.com

    Barack Obama lightened things up a bit today at his first post-election press conference when he was asked about getting a puppy for his daughters. He opined that most shelter dogs are "mutts like me."

    Well, it took someone about 30 seconds... or maybe a minute... to slap "dot com" on the end of that quote and register it as a domain name and then turn right around and offer it up for a price of $6,500. Looks like Obama's economic stimulus is off to a great start!

    Is this a fantastic country or what?

    Thursday, November 06, 2008

    Sarah Palin...the gift that keeps on giving!

    More on the Republican's biggest nightmare AKA Sarah (Caribou Barbie) Palin from the Australian:
  • McCain's aides coined a term for Palin and her family: Alaskan "hillbillies."

  • Ms. Palin had been told by McCain spokeswoman Nicolle Wallace to buy three suits and hire a stylist for her debut at the Republican convention at an expected cost of about $20,000.

    Instead, the self-described blue-collar "hockey mom" went on a profligate shopping spree at exclusive department stores, including bills of $75,062 at Neiman Marcus and $49,425 at Saks Fifth Avenue.

    "Wasilla hillbillies looting Neiman Marcus from coast to coast," was how a McCain aide characterised the spending spree to Newsweek magazine.

  • The merciless attack on Ms. Palin -- who aides said was also given to frequent "temper tantrums" -- comes in retaliation for what McCain's staff considered a treasonous act by Ms Palin's team in the final weeks of the campaign.

    McCain aides believe Ms. Palin decided to look after her own political image -- she has her eyes set on the 2012 presidential campaign -- by leaking to the media that she had been "mishandled" by McCain's campaign.
  • But there is a some good news in all of this for the rest of us! "Seth Meyers, the head writer for Saturday Night Live, said he anticipated Ms Palin would not stray far from the national conversation. For comedians, he said, 'she is a gift that will keep on giving.'"

    Hey, John! What in the hell were you thinking?

    Wednesday, November 05, 2008

    Now it can be told


    Happening in just the last hour...Fox News Channel reporter Carl Cameron told network anchor Shepard Smith that "there WAS tension between John McCain staff members and Sarah Palin (as other news outlets previously reported), and part of it stemmed from some rather glaring gaps in what the governor of Alaska knew about the rest of the world."

    The above quote is from the L.A. Times' Top of the Ticket" blog including this tidbit:
    "Palin [was not] aware that Africa is a continent. (Perhaps she was hamstrung by the fact that no part of that land mass can be viewed from her homestate.)"
    I'd like to think that most Americans (63,875,893 to be precise) saw early on that Palin was supremely unqualified.

    And now we are learning just how unqualified she was. I'm sure more of these revelations will be forthcoming in the weeks and months to come as former campaign aides throw Sarah under the bus...again and again and again.

    Sarah Palin in 2012 anyone? Bring it on!!

    Sunday, November 02, 2008

    It's official! Obama voters are happier than McCain voters!

    From the Associated Press:
    "WASHINGTON (AP) — That smiling guy walking down the street? Odds are he's a Barack Obama backer. The grouchy looking one? Don't ask, and don't necessarily count on him to vote on Tuesday, either.
    [...]
    "One expert says the contrasting moods could affect how likely the two candidates' supporters are to vote on Election Day, possibly dampening McCain's turnout while boosting Obama's."
    My personal research back this up to a degree.

    I was talking to a very good friend tonight who is an avid FOX News watcher and who holds views that are slightly to the right of Attila the Hun.

    I've had a good-natured exchange of views with him over the past few months trying to get him to see things my way...to no avail.

    However tonight he revealed to me that he probably won't even bother voting on Tuesday. "What's the use?" he asked. "My vote isn't going to make any difference anyway."

    It should be noted that my friend is a photojournalist for a major wire service here in Miami. He's been covering early voting just about everyday for the past few weeks.

    He told me that it appeared to him just about everyone showing up and standing in long lines to vote early was voting for Obama.

    How do you know, I asked?

    "I can tell," he said.

    Another friend of mine puts it this way: "Do people really think that Republicans are going to stand in line for four hours to vote for John McCain?"

    Anecdotal evidence to be sure, but a good sign for Obama.

    McCain finally lightens up

    John McCain shows he still has a sense of humor which is amazing given the fact that he's probably going to suffer one of the most humiliating defeats in American political history this Tuesday. I wonder if he would have done this skit if he had any chance of winning?

    Friday, October 31, 2008

    Could Sarah Palin get a job at McDonald's?


    Probably not.

    From MSNBC:
    "Ken Duberstein, former Republican chief of staff to President Reagan, told MSNBC's Norah O'Donnell today that the pick of Palin has undermined John McCain's credibility.

    "What most Americans I think realize is that you don't offer a job, let alone the vice presidency, to a person after one job interview," Duberstein said. "Even at McDonalds you're interviewed three times before you're given a job."
    Duberstein is voting for Obama.

    Monday, October 27, 2008

    More bad news at The Herald

    As I predicted last month, circulation figures released today for the latest reporting period show the Herald's readership continuing its sharp decline.
    "...daily circ [at the Herald] was down 11.8% to 210,884. Sunday was down 9% to 279,484."

    By comparison "The Orlando Sentinel lost 3.3% of its daily circ to 206,363 and about the same on Sunday (-3.2%) to 307,976 copies" which means the Orlando Sentinel now has a larger Sunday circulation than the Herald.
    The Herald once boasted the largest circulation of any paper in Florida. The St. Petersburg Times now has a larger daily and Sunday circulation than the Herald.

    And as the latest fiigures show, The Orlando Sentinel has surpassed the Herald's Sunday readership and has posted smaller daily circulation losses than the Herald. It's quite possible that if the Herald continues to experience similar circulation losses that it will find itself as the state's third largest newspaper.

    The Herald has posted an AP story on their site on the just released circulation figures but it doesn't contain any info on their own dismal numbers. It will be interesting to see if they have a local angle to this story in the paper tomorrow.

    Some analysts are already dissecting the latest circulation numbers and reading between the lines. Former Knight Ridder exec Ken Doctor explains what he believes is behind the double-digit declines in circulation at some newspapers:
    "One big reason the numbers are declining is the product itself. In the last year, we've seen unprecedented cuts in the product -- and the customers are noticing. It looks like the amount of newsprint is down about 10-15%; some in stories, some in ads. Trusted bylines have disappeared overnight. Readers notice, and talk to their friends, and they're saying: it's not the newspaper it used to be. When the subscription notices come, they're a little less likely to be acted upon."
    I couldn't agree more, especially when it comes to the Herald.

    Thursday, October 16, 2008

    Republicans + bathroom stalls...what's up with that?

    The Herald's Ace Crime Reporter David Ovalle breaking a story late this afternoon that's sure to set tongues wagging at the courthouse tomorrow.

    Ovalle did some digging and came up with a disturbing story of Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Douglas Chumbley getting himself arrested back on Sept. 25 after allegedly exposing himself in a Starbucks bathroom on the University of Miami campus. Chumbley was busted after following a male student into the Starbucks restroom.

    Ovalle tells us that the hizzoner is a Palmetto Bay Republican and a former English teacher at a Catholic high school. He was appointed to the bench by Gov. Jeb Bush in 2006. Chumbley served as a judge in the juvenile division.

    Chumbley's bio and photo have disappeared from the website of the 11th Judicial Circuit of Florida but Random Pixels was able to find the page in Google's cache.The question Ovalle leaves unanswered in his otherwise excellent story is why Republicans seem to be fascinated with bathroom stalls!

    Wednesday, October 15, 2008

    Who won the debate? Joe the Plumber by a knockout!

    Random Pixels welcomes America's newest instant celebrity. Joe the Plumber! Enjoy your 15 minutes, Joe!

    Joe was mentioned no fewer than 20 times during the hour and a half debate.

    Joe talks about the American Dream among other things in this interview:
    "...my American Dream was to have a house, a dog, a couple rifles, a bass boat. I believe in living life easy and simple. I don’t have grand designs. I don’t want much."
    Yeah, but who's he voting for? He told the AP: "That's for me and a button to know."

    Death by a thousand cuts [UPDATED]

    UPDATED at 3pm, Thursday:

    A newsroom source now tells Random Pixels that Herald publisher David Landsberg said as recently as yesterday that the talked about and anticipated job cuts in January may not be necessary.

    ...

    A few brief notes on the current state of affairs in the newspaper business:

  • A source at the Herald tells me that despite two rounds of buyouts in the space of three months, some staffers are bracing for more bad news.

    Executive editor Anders Gyllenhaal has already told his staff that more cuts in the newsroom may be necessary - as early as January. As many as 10 more staffers may lose their jobs.

    The newsroom buzz is that with the previous round of cuts taking a toll on reporters, photographers and support staff, some senior editors may now find their heads on the chopping block.

    My source tells me that some of them [editors] are sitting at their desks with "thousand-yard stares. They're shell-shocked."

  • Some Herald staffers are complaining about the Herald's new website re-design. "While it may look like it's new and improved, all they did was put lipstick on a pig," said one newsroom insider. "They did it on the cheap." Another staffer tells me that the design was mandated by the Herald's parent company McClatchy. The source says that all McClatchy papers will soon have similar looking sites.

  • Another Herald source tells me that the Herald's Broward bureau in Pembroke Pines has become a ghost town. He reports that many days he's the only person in the once-busy building. "It gives me a creepy feeling," says the staffer.

  • And here's something that Herald executive editor Anders Gyllenhaal is no doubt paying attention to:

    While newspapers will never get back subscribers who have migrated to the web, they're trying desperate measures to hold on to subscribers they still have.

    One of those measures is re-design. The Sun-Sentinel and Orlando Sentinel have recently launched re-designed papers.

    Tampa Tribune executive editor Janet Coats thought she'd come up with a sure fire way to re-invent her paper. Coats decided that what her readers wanted was a more compact and condensed version of the Tribune. The problem is she never asked the readers what they wanted.

    The Tribune rolled out a one section paper back on Oct. 6.

    Readers hated it.

    Less than a week after launching the slimmed down version of the paper, Coats had to apologize to readers and announce that the Tribune will it resume publishing a multi-section paper.

    The Tribune is in a no-win situation. It competes with the St. Petersburg Times for readers. The St. Petersburg Times, which is considered one of the best newspapers in the country, outclasses the inferior Tribune in circulation and and quality. The only way the Tribune can beat the St. Pete Times is to give away a $20 bill with every paper they sell. Giving readers less of a newspaper is not the answer, as editor Coats has painfully learned.

    The incident just proves that some people who run newspapers have no idea what readers want.
  • Tuesday, October 14, 2008

    McCain's attacks...they didn't work!

    From the New York Times:
    The McCain campaign’s recent angry tone and sharply personal attacks on Senator Barack Obama appear to have backfired and tarnished Senator John McCain more than their intended target, the latest New York Times/CBS News poll has found.
    [...]
    .... the poll found that more voters see Mr. McCain as waging a negative campaign than Mr. Obama. Six in 10 voters surveyed said that Mr. McCain had spent more time attacking Mr. Obama than explaining what he would do as president; by about the same number, voters said Mr. Obama was spending more of his time explaining than attacking.
    Ol' Cranky certainly isn't helping himself with performances like this either. Perhaps after the election is over, whomever was responsible for allowing John McCain to make these sorts of appearances before video cameras can explain why they thought it was a good idea! But by all means, let's have more like these!

    Sunday, October 12, 2008

    The Big Lie

    "Make the lie big, make it simple, keep saying it, and eventually they will believe it."

    "It is not truth that matters, but victory."

    ...
    If there's heaven or a hell or an after-life in another universe, then there's no doubt that Lee Atwater is looking down on the McCain campaign of recent days and smiling.

    Atwater was a Republican strategist who perfected a particularly virulent form of dirty politics that he used on behalf of various Republican candidates including George H.W. Bush.

    And while Atwater didn't author the above quotes - they were uttered by another politician - he no doubt, knew of them and more than likely adhered to them in principle.

    Eleanor Randolph of the New York Times wrote back on Sept. 19 that Atwater knew how to "get inside peoples’ heads." Randolph explains:
    One of the cruelest examples of this maneuver involved former State Senator Tom Turnipseed, a South Carolina Democrat who ran unsuccessfully for Congress in 1980. As a youth, Mr. Turnipseed had shock therapy for depression, which he talked about on occasion.

    Mr. Atwater, who was working for the Republican, was not sympathetic. He went around the state telling people that the Democratic candidate had once “been hooked up to jumper cables.” No matter how much Mr. Turnipseed talked about education or crime or dirty tricks after that, voters only saw the jumper cables.

    For the 1988 campaign to elect then-Vice President Bush, the indelible image that helped defeat Gov. Michael Dukakis of Massachusetts was a black man named Willie Horton. Willie Horton committed rape while on furlough from a Massachusetts prison under a program that was actually started by another governor, a Republican.

    Despite his public denials that he had anything to do with an anti-Dukakis commercial featuring Mr. Horton, this film has Mr. Atwater encouraging an outside group to spread the word. The tactic worked. Mr. Atwater and friends managed to turn Willie Horton’s face into the only thing some voters could remember about the Democratic nominee.
    Atwater died in 1991, but as we've seen in recent days, the Atwater style of politics is very much alive.

    John McCain and Sarah Palin have trotted out the big lie and smear politics, instigated no doubt, by their campaign advisors who have probably been doing some reading up on Lee Atwater.

    Sarah Palin on Oct. 4:
    “This is not a man who sees America as you see it and how I see America. We see America as the greatest force for good in this world. If we can be that beacon of light and hope for others who seek freedom and democracy and can live in a country that would allow intolerance in the equal rights that again our military men and women fight for and die for for all of us. Our opponent though, is someone who sees America it seems as being so imperfect that he’s palling around with terrorists who would target their own country?”
    What better way to distract your followers from the real issues and your own shortcomings as a candidate, than by telling a lie and then repeating it over and over again until they start believing it?

    And all of this from a woman, who as mayor of her town, wanted to ban books from the library and as governor reportedly set up a Yahoo e-mail account so she could conduct state business without scrutiny. And now in just the past few days we learn that Palin was running the state of Alaska like some backwater town southern sheriff by abusing "the powers of her office by pressuring subordinates to try to get her former brother-in-law, a state trooper, fired."

    Palin's ugly rhetoric and lies became so intense last week, that some of her supporters on Florida's west coast felt obliged to match her hate speech one ugly word for another with threats shouted from the audience against Obama and some members of the media.

    And even though McCain and Palin never said some of the more outrageous things that their supporters are screaming at rallies, they planted the seeds of hate and pollinated them when they sprouted.

    Some of their followers have even resorted to making up their own lies. One woman actually believes that Obama is "an Arab."

    John McCain, to his credit, has finally decided to scale back the attacks: "I have to tell you — he is a decent person and a person that you do not have to be scared" of "as president of the United States."

    With less than a month to go before the election, let's see if McCain and Palin can stick to the issues.

    Oh, by the way, who uttered those two quotes at the top of this post? Not a Republican, although they could have been.

    They were both said by Adolf Hitler.

    Thursday, October 09, 2008

    Actually...her face is not what worries me!


    The world economy's in the dumper, we're stuck in a war with no end in sight, people are going broke just filling up their gas tanks and ten of thousands of Americans are being forced out of their homes.

    So what are the folks at Fox News and a Republican twinkie named Andrea Tantaros upset about?

    The fact that Newsweek magazine didn't Photoshop Sarah Palin's ultra-close-up photo on the cover of the current issue.

    Tantaros thinks it outrageous that Newsweek makes Barack Obama look so gorgeous on their covers but not poor Sarah. Hell, they even gave Barack a halo on a recent cover, she whines!

    Here's Tantaros on Fox News complaining about Newsweek's "slap in the face" at Sarah Palin. She uses the term "a slap in the face" no fewer than six times. This is a woman who clearly isn't getting enough time off.

    Tantaros apparently has no problems with Palin sliming Obama by using rhetoric that borders on hate speech.

    But she does have a problem with Newsweek not using the cloning tool on Sarah's pics.

    What a lot of these complainers don't understand is that Newsweek is news magazine and not a fashion magazine. And Photoshopping newsphotos is a "no-no."

    Here's another guy who asks the burning question "Did 'Newsweek' Have to Show Palin's 'stache?"

    Who cares? It's not Palin's facial hair or large pores or moles that scare me. It's her Neanderthal-like political views and the fact that she has absolutely no business running for the second highest office in the land!




    Wednesday, October 08, 2008

    George W. Bush's 8 years...suitable for framing!

    Click to enlarge

    ...
    This Saturday George W. Bush will have just 100 days remaining in office.

    To mark the occasion I slapped together a poster celebrating some of the more memorable moments of his presidency. It was hard to choose...there were so many.

    It's just my little way of saying "Thanks for everything Mr. President!"


    -from your friends at Random Pixels.

    George W. Bush's 8 years....FAIL!!!!


    As America inches closer to the day when George Bush packs his bags and heads back to Texas - 103 days and counting - it's only fitting that we take a serious look back at some of the promises he made and judge whether or not he kept them.

    I'm sure C-Span and the Newshour on PBS will be doing in-depth analyses of Bush's eight years in office. But who has time to sit around and listen to, what will no doubt, be a bunch of talking heads?

    I'd rather hear it directly from the man himself! And all of it in under 2 minutes!

    The political staff at The Late Show with David Letterman has put together this video compilation of Bush's achievements. How did he do? You be the judge.



    OK, OK. That wasn't really all that serious. But the video below is a little more introspective and scholarly...just like George Bush.


    Tuesday, October 07, 2008

    John McCain's service to his country...the stuff he doesn't talk about


    John McCain ended tonight's debate with these 13 words:
    "...the great honor of my life was to always put my country first."
    And now consider this passage from the current issue of Rolling Stone magazine that quotes Air Force lieutenant colonel John Dramesi who was also a POW in Vietnam:
    Dramesi says he has no desire to dishonor McCain's service, but he believes that celebrating the downed pilot's behavior as heroic — "he wasn't exceptional one way or the other" — has a corrosive effect on military discipline. "This business of my country before my life?" Dramesi says. "Well, he had that opportunity and failed miserably. "If it really were country first, John McCain would probably be walking around without one or two arms or legs — or he'd be dead."
    John McCain likes to talk of his military service. McCain and his supporters bring up his years in uniform almost daily.

    At the Republican convention Sarah Palin said of John McCain: "There is only one candidate who has truly fought for America and that man is John McCain," as if that alone makes John McCain qualified to be commander-in-chief.

    What they don't mention is that many great presidents never served in the military.

    There's no doubt that McCain suffered while a POW in North Vietnam. He reminds us of that every chance he gets. But there's much more to the story. Stuff you won't hear McCain or Sarah Palin talking about between now and election day.
    ____

    More from the cover story in the current issue of Rolling Stone magazine on John McCain's military years:
    At Fort McNair, an army base located along the Potomac River in the nation's capital, a chance reunion takes place one day between two former POWs. It's the spring of 1974, and Navy commander John Sidney McCain III has returned home from the experience in Hanoi that, according to legend, transformed him from a callow and reckless youth into a serious man of patriotism and purpose. Walking along the grounds at Fort McNair, McCain runs into John Dramesi, an Air Force lieutenant colonel who was also imprisoned and tortured in Vietnam.
    [...]
    On the grounds between the two brick colleges, the chitchat between the scion of four-star admirals and the son of a prizefighter turns to their academic travels; both colleges sponsor a trip abroad for young officers to network with military and political leaders in a distant corner of the globe.

    "I'm going to the Middle East," Dramesi says. "Turkey, Kuwait, Lebanon, Iran."

    "Why are you going to the Middle East?" McCain asks, dismissively.

    "It's a place we're probably going to have some problems," Dramesi says.

    "Why? Where are you going to, John?"

    "Oh, I'm going to Rio."

    "What the hell are you going to Rio for?"

    McCain, a married father of three, shrugs.

    "I got a better chance of getting laid."

    Dramesi, who went on to serve as chief war planner for U.S. Air Forces in Europe and commander of a wing of the Strategic Air Command, was not surprised. "McCain says his life changed while he was in Vietnam, and he is now a different man," Dramesi says today. "But he's still the undisciplined, spoiled brat that he was when he went in."
    [...]
    [At Annapolis] when McCain was not shown the pampering to which he was accustomed, he grew petulant — even abusive. He repeatedly blew up in the face of his commanding officer. It was the kind of insubordination that would have gotten any other midshipman kicked out of Annapolis. But his classmates soon realized that McCain was untouchable. Midway though his final year, McCain faced expulsion, about to "bilge out" because of excessive demerits. After his mother intervened, however, the academy's commandant stepped in. Calling McCain "spoiled" to his face, he nonetheless issued a reprieve, scaling back the demerits. McCain dodged expulsion a second time by convincing another midshipman to take the fall after McCain was caught with contraband.
    [...]
    McCain's self-described "four-year course of insubordination" ended with him graduating fifth from the bottom — 894th out of a class of 899. It was a record of mediocrity he would continue as a pilot.
    [...]
    Sometimes 3 a.m. moments occur at 10:52 in the morning.

    It was July 29th, 1967, a hot, gusty morning in the Gulf of Tonkin atop the four-acre flight deck of the super carrier USS Forrestal. Perched in the cockpit of his A-4 Skyhawk, Lt. Cmdr. John McCain ticked nervously through his preflight checklist.

    Now 30 years old, McCain was trying to live up to his father's expectations, to finally be known as something other than the fuck-up grandson of one of the Navy's greatest admirals. That morning, preparing for his sixth bombing run over North Vietnam, the graying pilot's dreams of combat glory were beginning to seem within his reach.

    Then, in an instant, the world around McCain erupted in flames. A six-foot-long Zuni rocket, inexplicably launched by an F-4 Phantom across the flight deck, ripped through the fuel tank of McCain's aircraft. Hundreds of gallons of fuel splashed onto the deck and came ablaze. Then: Clank. Clank. Two 1,000-pound bombs dropped from under the belly of McCain's stubby A-4, the Navy's "Tinkertoy Bomber," into the fire.

    McCain, who knew more than most pilots about bailing out of a crippled aircraft, leapt forward out of the cockpit, swung himself down from the refueling probe protruding from the nose cone, rolled through the flames and ran to safety across the flight deck. Just then, one of his bombs "cooked off," blowing a crater in the deck and incinerating the sailors who had rushed past McCain with hoses and fire extinguishers. McCain was stung by tiny bits of shrapnel in his legs and chest, but the wounds weren't serious; his father would later report to friends that Johnny "came through without a scratch."

    The damage to the Forrestal was far more grievous: The explosion set off a chain reaction of bombs, creating a devastating inferno that would kill 134 of the carrier's 5,000-man crew, injure 161 and threaten to sink the ship.

    These are the moments that test men's mettle. Where leaders are born. Leaders like . . . Lt. Cmdr. Herb Hope, pilot of the A-4 three planes down from McCain's. Cornered by flames at the stern of the carrier, Hope hurled himself off the flight deck into a safety net and clambered into the hangar deck below, where the fire was spreading. According to an official Navy history of the fire, Hope then "gallantly took command of a firefighting team" that would help contain the conflagration and ultimately save the ship.

    McCain displayed little of Hope's valor. Although he would soon regale The New York Times with tales of the heroism of the brave enlisted men who "stayed to help the pilots fight the fire," McCain took no part in dousing the flames himself. After going below decks and briefly helping sailors who were frantically trying to unload bombs from an elevator to the flight deck, McCain retreated to the safety of the "ready room," where off-duty pilots spent their noncombat hours talking trash and playing poker. There, McCain watched the conflagration unfold on the room's closed-circuit television — bearing distant witness to the valiant self-sacrifice of others who died trying to save the ship, pushing jets into the sea to keep their bombs from exploding on deck.

    As the ship burned, McCain took a moment to mourn his misfortune; his combat career appeared to be going up in smoke. "This distressed me considerably," he recalls in Faith of My Fathers. "I feared my ambitions were among the casualties in the calamity that had claimed the Forrestal."

    The fire blazed late into the night. The following morning, while oxygen-masked rescue workers toiled to recover bodies from the lower decks, McCain was making fast friends with R.W. "Johnny" Apple of The New York Times, who had arrived by helicopter to cover the deadliest Naval calamity since the Second World War. The son of admiralty surviving a near-death experience certainly made for good copy, and McCain colorfully recounted how he had saved his skin. But when Apple and other reporters left the ship, the story took an even stranger turn: McCain left with them. As the heroic crew of the Forrestal mourned its fallen brothers and the broken ship limped toward the Philippines for repairs, McCain zipped off to Saigon for what he recalls as "some welcome R&R."
    [...]
    There is no question that McCain suffered hideously in North Vietnam. His ejection over a lake in downtown Hanoi broke his knee and both his arms. During his capture, he was bayoneted in the ankle and the groin, and had his shoulder smashed by a rifle butt. His tormentors dragged McCain's broken body to a cell and seemed content to let him expire from his injuries. For the next two years, there were few days that he was not in agony.

    But the subsequent tale of McCain's mistreatment — and the transformation it is alleged to have produced — are both deeply flawed. The Code of Conduct that governed POWs was incredibly rigid; few soldiers lived up to its dictate that they "give no information . . . which might be harmful to my comrades." Under the code, POWs are bound to give only their name, rank, date of birth and service number — and to make no "statements disloyal to my country."

    Soon after McCain hit the ground in Hanoi, the code went out the window. "I'll give you military information if you will take me to the hospital," he later admitted pleading with his captors. McCain now insists the offer was a bluff, designed to fool the enemy into giving him medical treatment. In fact, his wounds were attended to only after the North Vietnamese discovered that his father was a Navy admiral. What has never been disclosed is the manner in which they found out: McCain told them. According to Dramesi, one of the few POWs who remained silent under years of torture, McCain tried to justify his behavior while they were still prisoners. "I had to tell them," he insisted to Dramesi, "or I would have died in bed."
    From an Oct. 6, 2008 L.A. Times story on McCain's military service:
    As a presidential candidate, McCain has cited his military service -- particularly his 5 1/2 years as a POW. But he has been less forthcoming about his mistakes in the cockpit.

    The [L.A.] Times interviewed men who served with McCain and located once-confidential 1960s-era accident reports and formerly classified evaluations of his squadrons during the Vietnam War. This examination of his record revealed a pilot who early in his career was cocky, occasionally cavalier and prone to testing limits.

    In today's military, a lapse in judgment that causes a crash can end a pilot's career. Though standards were looser and crashes more frequent in the 1960s, McCain's record stands out.