Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Newspaper Headline of the Year!

Now this is one fat cat!
Does SlimFast come in tuna flavor?


Today Miami's Gossip Maven Extraordinaire follows up on her WORLD EXCLUSIVE!! report Sunday that CBS 4's Shannon Hori is having twins.Shannon and Angelina: "Mommyhood" is twice as nice!

Readers of Joanie's column hardly had a chance to catch their breath before Joanie followed up with yet another WORLD EXCLUSIVE!! Seems the results of Shannon's ultrasound are in and the 36 year-old anchor babe's going to have a boy AND a girl!! Joanie also reveals that Hori says her home nursery is painted yellow, but she'll likely ask husband Kendall Cogan to repaint it -- baby blue. WOW!!

Anyone care to guess how many more WORLD EXCLUSIVES!! Joanie will break on Shannon's twins before their birth in December??

Speaking of painting, Joanie also breaks the news this morning in another WORLD EXCLUSIVE!! that managers of the recently closed Palm Restaurant in Coral Gables have -- GASP!!!! -- painted the walls prior to turning the space the restaurant occupied back to the landlord!!!

Joan!! Stop it already! You're killing me with all these exclusives!!!!!!

Oh, and a question: They actually pay you to write this stuff??

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

"W" The movie ... 8 years too late!

Memo to police officers

FROM: Random Pixels Help Desk
TO: Police officers everywhere
SUBJECT: Proper conduct on the street

Just a reminder in case any of you have been living under a rock for the past 20 years...everybody has a camera now. Conduct yourselves accordingly.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Mayor Manny Diaz says: "I'm keeping my day job!"

The other day I sent Miami mayor Manny Diaz an email with a link to my recent post that talked about the re-design of the Miami Herald.Tongue-in-cheek, I congratulated him on his new position.

The mayor has a great sense of humor and e-mailed me back with a few observations.

The exchange is pasted below:


RE: Congratulations Mr Mayor!‏
From: Diaz, Manuel A (Mayor) (
Sent: Mon 7/28/08 12:58 PM
To: (

Good advice, though I am confident that Sean and I could shake things up.


From: []
Sent: Sunday, July 27, 2008 7:20 PM
To: Diaz, Manuel A (Mayor)
Subject: RE: Congratulations Mr Mayor!

Mr Mayor

You're right, the way things are going at the Herald I recommend that you stay right where you are!



Subject: RE: Congratulations Mr Mayor!
Date: Sun, 27 Jul 2008 19:15:23 -0400

Very funny. However, I will not be quitting my day job.


Saturday, July 26, 2008

Miami Herald prints pornography on Page 1!

If you get the Miami Herald delivered at home and you have young children, you may want to keep them from looking at the front page of Saturday's Herald.

The Herald printed pornography on page one today.

No, not the wet, gooey, sloppy, in your face money shot kind of porn!

This is a more subtle form of pornography. In this case it's all about prostitution.

Look, right there on the front page image, the red box in the lower right hand corner.The Herald has shamelessly "whored" out page one, printing an ad that masquerades as a story, for the "Foundering Money Pit on Watson Island" AKA Parrot Jungle Island or Jungle Island. The only thing missing is a picture of a spread-eagled Biscayne Blvd. hooker.

I use the term "money pit" because the City of Miami and Miami-Dade County have propped this loser up with "loans" that Jungle Island has had trouble making payments on.

But you'll find no mention of that unpleasantness in this morning's breezy 350 word puff piece on Jungle Island's newest residents; 9 cute and rambunctious endangered lemurs from Madagascar.

The story goes on to tell us that for a mere $45 visitors can reserve a 45 minute "human play date" that will let them frolic with these hyperactive creatures that make "squeaking, clucking, growling, chattering and barking sounds." Who could resist cavorting with animals with names like Teddy Bear, Honey Bear, Smokey, Cujo, Amber, Goldie, Sophie, Jacket or Moley?

So, Who Wants to Date a Lemur?

The question I have for the editors at the Herald is simple: Why are you publishing what essentially is a press release for a tourist attraction on page one? Have you completely lost your minds?

Perhaps this is a new service the Herald is offering failing South Florida businesses.

If you have a business that's in trouble, for a small fee they'll send a reporter and photographer to your location and do a story that will run on the front page of the Herald.

Warning! It's gonna cost you!

But just think of all the potential customers you'll reach by having a story about your business featured on the front page of South Florida's most prestigious information source!

If this sounds good to you, just e-mail Herald editor Anders Gyllenhaal and tell him you want the same deal Jungle Island got. In no time you'll be on page one!

Tell him I sent you!

Friday, July 25, 2008

Marco Rubio by the numbers

Salary as Florida House speaker: $44,280

Salary as part-time Visiting distinguished service professor at FIU: $69,000

Number of hours per week he'll work: 15 to 20

Salary per hour: approximately $66

State funding cuts to FIU on Rubio's watch: $14,000,000

Resume: Led the drive to cut property taxes and cut state spending that resulted in less funding for colleges and universities. Universities have had to cut programs, raise tuition, cap enrollment and lay off professors.

But so what, I've got a new job!

Random Pixels Shout Out of the Week goes to....

....Jose Duran at Miami New Times for naming this blog "The Riptide 2.0 Blog of the Week"

Thanks, Jose! I'm speechless! ;)

South Florida media gets beat...big time!

Last summer, a Broward County jury convicted middle school teacher Aaron Mohanlal of 13 counts, including child abuse, molestation and lewd battery on a 13 year-old boy, and a judge sentenced him to 43 years.

But a year later, Mohanlal has yet to spend a day in prison.

The story, by CNN reporter Ashley Fantz, first appeared on the network's website Thursday afternoon.

I happened upon it as I was watching Headline News. The network was devoting as much as 10 minutes to the story at the top of each half-hour block with the outraged anchor doing a Q&A with reporter Fantz and using words like "animal" and "monster" to describe Mohanlal. They knew they "owned" the story.

Intrigued, I did a Google news search to see if any of the South Florida media outlets had anything on the story. I found only five links, none of them from any of our media powerhouses here in So Fla.

At midnight, my Google search showed a few TV stations and small newspapers had picked on the story.

But neither the Herald, the Sun-Sentinel or the Palm Beach Post had anything on their websites.

We're starting to see the effects that recent staff cuts at local papers are having on news coverage.

I'm sure in the days ahead the local papers will start to do this story. What they won't be writing about is why they dropped the ball on this one. But we already know the answer to that one.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

More cuts ahead at the Herald?

NEW YORK, July 24 (Reuters) - Newspaper publisher McClatchy Co. [parent company of The Miami Herald] reported a more than 40 percent drop in quarterly profit on Thursday as advertising revenue plunged, but shares shot up 5 percent after the company said it still will be able to pay its debt.

Buried in the Reuters story was this ominous quote from McClatchy CEO Gary Pruitt:
"We are committed to doing more if revenues decline further in the second half," Pruitt said. "Our board will meet during the third quarter to consider dividend policies and we will look at additional cost-saving measures as necessary."

Additional cost-saving measures?

Does that mean more staff cuts at the Herald (and other McClatchy papers) are being looked at?

Time will tell but it certainly doesn't look good.

The economy is still in the tank. The only bright spot here is that McClatchy's "online advertising revenues grew a strong 12.5%," according to a lengthy press release on second quarter results.

Campaign contrasts

A couple of images this week from the campaign trail point up the stark differences between the campaign styles of John McCain and Barack Obama.

Barack Obama, left, the presumptive Democratic nominee for president and David Petraeus, the top American military commander in Iraq, surveyed Baghdad from a helicopter earlier this week.

Meanwhile, yesterday in Bethlehem, PA John McCain held a press conference in the dairy section of a supermarket. McCain later fired a campaign advisor for not reminding him that packaged cheese doesn't belong to a voting bloc.

BREAKING NEWS!!!! -- Spokane, Washington

An early morning fire is consuming a brick building in Spokane, WA.

BAD NEWS: The building, which houses a Churchill's steakhouse, will probably be declared a total loss.

GOOD NEWS: The smell of sizzling steaks is pervasive throughout much of downtown Spokane....just in time for lunch.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

UPDATE: Miami Herald ready to launch new design!

Click on image to enlarge!
Another Random Pixels EXCLUSIVE! A source at the Herald has leaked another Page one mock-up showing some of the exciting new changes coming to your Miami Herald!

I can't wait!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008


One. That's the number of reporters waiting to meet John McCain's plane Monday when he landed in Manchester, NH.

"In Manchester last night, there was just one reporter and one photographer waiting for McCain as his plane -- a white, blue and gold Boeing 737-400 emblazoned with his campaign slogan, "Reform, Prosperity, Peace" -- touched down on the Wiggins Airways tarmac."

Stalker on the 11 O'Clock News

One of the dirty little secrets of the TV news business is the proliferation of stalkers that constantly harass many of the nation's high profile news anchors.

Female anchors are favorite targets of lonely men, who sometimes become so enamored with the anchor babe on the 11 o'clock news, that they start writing letters and in some cases try to call them at work.

A female news anchor for an international Spanish language network once told me that she received dozens of letters a week from prisoners.

Most anchors reluctantly accept this as part of the business and have developed ways of dealing with it, making sure fans don't get too friendly.

But one Philadelphia anchor recently discovered, to her horror, that she was sitting just feet away from one of her most dogged and unbalanced stalkers.

I wrote about the strange case of KYW-TV (Philadelphia) anchor Alycia Lane (formerly of NBC6 Miami) who learned back in June of this year that her co-anchor, Larry Mendte, had been logging into her private e-mail accounts and reading it and in some cases divulging her private matters to a newspaper reporter.

Yesterday, Mendte, a one-time comedian, learned that federal prosecutors - who aren't known for their sense of humor - will probably charge him for hacking into Lane's e-mail.

In a 24-page complaint the government alleges that Mendte accessed Lane's e-mail 537 times over a span of 146 days. Sometimes Mendte checked her e-mail from his home, once at 4:30 in the morning. Clearly a man obsessed.

On several occasions after reading her e-mail he called a reporter at a Philadelphia newspaper and revealed details about Lane's legal problems. And then days later detailed stories about Lane would appear in the paper.

Mendte could get 5 years in the slammer for his late night computer escapades.

Stay tuned.

Miami Herald design changes!

Click on image to enlarge!
We all know that The Herald is in big trouble.

Subscribers and advertisers are fleeing from the troubled rag faster than a suicide car bomber racing towards a Baghdad roadblock.

However my impeccable sources at the paper tell me that a major re-design has been in the works for several months and is set for launch at the end of the month.

Random Pixels has obtained a mock-up of the front page showing the design changes.

I don't know about you but...

Sunday, July 20, 2008

John McCain and the Internets

EDITED: Monday morning at 9:30am

Let me make something clear right from the get-go.

John McCain is an American hero. What he, and over 700 Vietnam POW's went through, is nothing short of heroic. Our nation owes them a debt that can never be repaid.

But is McCain qualified to be president?

There's mounting evidence that he's not.

Just the other day McCain jumped in his Time Machine and took us all on a trip back to 1993 when there was still a country named Czechoslovakia.

Everybody slips up now and then; but it looks like McCain is trying to outdo Dubya when it comes to malapropisms and foot-in-mouth disease.

And now, tonight, the AP has a story about John McCain's aversion to the Internet.

NEW YORK (AP) — If Sen. John McCain is really serious about becoming a Web-savvy citizen, perhaps Kathryn Robinson can help.

Robinson is now 106 — that's 35 years older than McCain — and she began using the Internet at 98, at the Barclay Friends home in West Chester, Pa., where she lives. "I started to learn because I wanted to e-mail my family," she says — in an e-mail message, naturally

Turns out that McCain doesn't use a computer or e-mail.

To me, that's chilling and frightening proof that John McCain is a carbon copy of George Bush.

We've just endured eight years of Bush's "bunker mentality." The damage his style of leadership and chronic stupidity has done to our country and our image abroad will take decades to repair.

Do we really need another president who has no curiosity about the rest of the world or anything that's going on in it?

How bad is McCain's "cyber disconnect?"

Here's part of an interview McCain gave the New York Times on July 11.

Q: What websites if any do you look at regularly?

Mr. McCain: [Press secretary] Brooke [Buchanan] and [adviser] Mark [Salter] show me Drudge, obviously, everybody watches, for better or for worse, Drudge. Sometimes I look at Politico. Sometimes RealPolitics, sometimes.

(Mrs. McCain and Ms. Buchanan both interject: “Meagan’s blog!”)

Mr. McCain: Excuse me, Meagan’s blog. And we also look at the blogs from Michael and from you that may not be in the newspaper, that are just part of your blog.

Q: But do you go on line for yourself?

Mr. McCain: They go on for me. I am learning to get online myself, and I will have that down fairly soon, getting on myself. I don’t expect to be a great communicator, I don’t expect to set up my own blog, but I am becoming computer literate to the point where I can get the information that I need – including going to my daughter’s blog first, before anything else.

Q: Do you use a blackberry or email?

Mr. McCain: No

Mark Salter: He uses a BlackBerry, just ours.

Mr. McCain: I use the Blackberry, but I don’t e-mail, I’ve never felt the particular need to e-mail. I read e-mails all the time, but the communications that I have with my friends and staff are oral and done with my cell phone. I have the luxury of being in contact with them literally all the time. We now have a phone on the plane that is usable on the plane, so I just never really felt a need to do it. But I do – could I just say, really – I understand the impact of blogs on American politics today and political campaigns. I understand that. And I understand that something appears on one blog, can ricochet all around and get into the evening news, the front page of The New York Times. So, I do pay attention to the blogs. And I am not in any way unappreciative of the impact that they have on entire campaigns and world opinion.

Now that's scary. Here's an allegedly intelligent 71 year-old man who aspires to be the leader of the most powerful nation in the world and he's admitting that he has to have other adults look up websites for him.

But he is learning. Better late than never!

Is the fact that McCain is computer illiterate enough to disqualify him from becoming president?

No...if that was his only drawback, which it isn't.

The fact that he hasn't taken the time to learn basic computer skills since the inception of the Internet is very telling.

But I really don't need any more reasons why he's all wrong.

But in the months ahead I'm sure John McCain-without too much prompting-is going continue to supply more proof and demonstrate even more vividly why he's not qualified to be president.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Déjà vu all over again

When I read Barry Jackson's story in Friday’s Miami Herald on the failure of the Florida Marlins to attract fans my first reaction was: “Been there, done that.”

Jackson’s story appeared in the Herald almost 7 years to the day a similarly themed story appeared on the front page of the NY Times on July 28, 2001.

Back then my friend Rick Bragg, who wrote the Times story, called me up and asked me if I’d like to shoot the pictures to go with the story.

It was a pretty simple assignment, Rick said. He was going to do a piece on the fact that the Tampa Bay Devil Rays and the Florida Marlins had the lowest attendance of any major league baseball team. All I had to do was get a picture that showed that.

I showed up at the stadium an hour or so before the game.

I walked out on the field and scanned the seats and saw a sea of orange.

Once the game started I was confined to a small photographers’ pit along the third base line. In a few minutes I had all the pictures I could get from that location. With a wide angle lens I’d shot the section of the field from the pitcher’s mound to home plate with a large expanse of empty seats behind. The resulting images were OK but I wanted something more dramatic.

I looked around for a different vantage point. Looking up I spied a lone figure up in the cheap seats overlooking right field. I made my way through the tunnel and up towards the lonely fan.

Once there I met Marlins fan Michael Lawson. I shot a lot of images of him from different angles showing him watching the game with lots of empty seats between him and the field.

After getting all the pictures I needed I sat down and chatted with Lawson. He told me he was a big baseball fan. I learned that he lived just 10 minutes away and that he often came to the ball park on days when his wife was shopping or out with friends.

So, I asked him, why do you sit way up here? Lawson responded that sometimes he just liked to get away from it all. Coming to the park afforded him solitude and it gave him time to think. And he was able to do all this while watching the game he loves in a nearly empty stadium.
Marlins fan Michael Lawson enjoys the solitude of Dolphins Stadium, July, 2001.

The photo editors loved the picture and it ended up running on the front page of the Times along with Rick’s story.

Jackson’s Herald story is essentially an updated version of the same story that others have written over the years: Why can’t the Marlins draw crowds? Why are they playing in an empty stadium year after year?

We know there are "sports fans" in Miami. They should be attending the games. Right? After all the Marlins are only 1½ games behind the National League East-leading Philadelphia Phillies.

Sports stories on the Herald’s website are some of the most widely read and those stories always seem to generate pages and pages of reader comments. So why don't these "fans" show up at the ballpark?

Jackson talked to people who ticked off all the reasons the Marlins can‘t fill seats; reasons we’ve heard a thousand times before: It’s too hot, it rains too much, it’s too humid, the stadium is in the middle of nowhere, it costs too much to park, the concession prices are too high and yadda, yadda, yadda. And of course now there is one more excuse on the list: gas prices are too high.

My friend Elliott Rodriguez, the CBS4 anchor, told me yesterday that people don’t attend the games because Dolphins Stadium wasn’t built for baseball.

There are plenty of excuses to go around.

Marlins president David Samson told Jackson “….given the climate and weather and other mitigating factors, we certainly understand [why attendance isn‘t higher.]”

Seems to me that this was concern #1 when the idea to bring baseball to South Florida was first proposed.

But in spite of all the evidence that South Florida fans just won't attend games, those in charge at the Marlins are saying: “Just give this new stadium and everything will be just fine; you’ll see.”

It’s pretty plain that after 15 years we know all we need to know about how popular baseball is in South Florida. It isn't.

Linda Robertson put it so succinctly in her Herald column this morning: “15 years, three owners and a parade of entertaining players, baseball has not caught on here.”

So why, in the face off all this evidence, do the Marlins and local politicians think that a new $500 million stadium in Little Havana will solve all the problems? The answer, of course is, it won’t.

The Marlins’ fan base, on paper, is in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach Counties that combined have a population somewhere in the neighborhood of 6 million, give or take a few hundred thousand.

But for all of the reasons listed above the Marlins can’t attract more than 15,000 or 20,000 fans, even when they’re playing well. Miami is a town and South Florida is a place that’s full of people who love to roll with winners. If you’re not winning they can’t be bothered.

The people who are pushing the new stadium say the taxpayers won’t have to foot the bill; that it will be built with tourist tax money. That, of course, is another lie; a variation on the old shell game or three-card monte. The taxpayers will end up paying for things that the tourist tax dollars would have paid for.

Hopefully Norman Braman will prevail and Miami-Dade voters and taxpayers will get to vote on whether or not they want to pay for a stadium that only 15,000+ people will use.

But if it is built, Michael Lawson, that lonely baseball fan I photographed 7 years ago, will still be able to find that summer solitude in the cheap seats on weekends. He’ll just have to drive down to the brand-new empty stadium Little Havana.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Random Pixels e-mail tip o' the day!

It's probably not a good idea to use your company's e-mail address to send homophobic hate e-mail to a guy who runs one of the most popular and widely read websites on the Internet.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Idiot TV reporter gets pwnd!

OK, so calling a TV reporter an idiot is like calling Paris Hilton a slut. But watch as this LA TV reporter tries to get cute and ends up getting bitch slapped....and then he goes back for another helping at 1:33.

Attention assignment editors and news directors: If you stop sending reporters out on stupid non-stories like this then you won't have to spend 3 minutes and 44 seconds apologizing and in the process watch your reporter and anchors dig an even deeper hole. This is one of the reasons I don't watch TV news.

Monday, July 14, 2008

The Herald tackles violence in the 'hood...and fails

The Herald's loving portrayal of a recent candlelight vigil for murdered brothers who were drug dealers and thugs.
This past Sunday the Herald ran a package of stories written by Andrea Robinson titled “Violence Claiming Young Blacks.”

The stories attempted to address the epidemic of violence that afflicts some of Miami’s most downtrodden neighborhoods.

So far this year - according to one story - 50 young blacks have died violently in Miami-Dade County.

At least two of them were drug dealers and thugs.

But most were young men and women and children trying to make it and survive just one more day in a place where the odds are unfairly stacked against them and a short walk to the grocery store can be your last.

The Herald  has done plenty stories like this in the past.

I don’t have a problem with the Herald tackling this subject. Make no mistake about it; there’s a crisis of epic proportions taking place in Overtown, Brownsville and Miami Gardens.

What I have a problem with, is the way the Herald does these stories.

What the Herald offered up this weekend was something they’ve done so many times in the past; a series of maudlin stories that wallow in grief, but in the end, offer no solutions.

The editors at the Herald have a formula and they pretty much stick to it every time they do these kinds of stories.
It goes something like this:

1) Find some victims who've experienced some kind of loss. (If they’re poor and disadvantaged that's even better)

2) Write some stories using lots of words like “victim,” “pain,” “grief,” “coping,” “support groups” and on and on and on.

3) Send a photographer to get lots of pictures of people hugging and crying. For more dramatic pictures, have the photographer pose some of victims in their living room bathed in the light coming in from a single window. A pose that works really well is to pose a couple who have lost a child - embracing - with the wife resting her head on the husband’s shoulder as they hold a large picture of the son or daughter they’ve lost. If you get them with tears rolling down their faces, score bonus points.

4) Have the photographer also attend any candlelight vigils where friends show up with hand painted posters and teddy bears.

5) Devote at least three pages in the paper to the stories and pictures. Make sure that when you post the stories on the website, that you also run the pictures in a slide show with a sappy soundtrack - a sad piano solo works best.
Teddy bears left for murdered brothers who the Herald says were drug dealers.

One of this weekend’s stories - “Bound in grief as violence continues,” - talks about the parents of some of the slain teens organizing support groups and attending anti-violence rallies and vigils. All that’s fine I guess.

But no where in any of the stories does the writer mention the real causes of violence in these neighborhoods or offer solutions to combat the violence.

With a little digging she would have learned that the thugs and bullies who are perpetrating this violence are, in many cases known by lots of people in the neighborhoods where they operate openly. The reason they operate openly is because no one has challenged them. Any 10 year-old in Overtown or Liberty City can tell you who to see if you want some dope.

And anyone can call 911 when someone gets shot in their front yard.

But it takes a bit more initiative to drop a dime on some of these thugs before they shoot someone.

The prevailing attitude in many disadvantaged neighborhoods is that if you call the police you’re a “snitch” or a “rat.” That has to change if any real inroads are to made against the criminals who rule these neighborhoods. Robinson never mentions that.

Robinson also failed to address many other problems such as a lack of real leadership in Miami’s African-American community.

In December of last year, in a tiny Northeast Miami Dade neighborhood that's no bigger than 2 or 3 square blocks and where multi-million dollar homes are the norm, two men showed up at a home armed with an assault weapon.
They never got inside the house but the whole thing was caught on tape.

Within a week, the president of the homeowners association (who just happens to be a wealthy Brickell Avenue attorney) had fired off a letter to his county commissioner and not long after that a Metro Dade Police mobile command post was parked in the neighborhood 24/7.

Keep in mind no one was killed and police were even reluctant to call it an attempted home invasion because they never found the men. I wrote about the incident for Biscayne Times.

It seems to me that the violence and killings in some of the less well-to-do neighborhoods in Miami-Dade is serious enough to warrant the police deploying a mobile command post. These neighborhoods are under siege! If the killing keeps up at the current rate, we will have over 100 young people dead by Christmas.

Just imagine if these killings were taking place in some of the more affluent parts of Coral Gables, Pinecrest or Miami Beach. Picture gangs of drug dealers doing drive-by shootings in broad daylight in neighborhoods with tree-lined streets and $2 million homes. Care to guess what the police response would be?

But they’re not. They’re happening in neighborhoods where the people have no power, no money and no leadership.

And how does the Herald address the problem? They just keep showing up and writing pretty words and taking lots of pictures of teddy bears and candlelight vigils.

A mountain of teddy bears and a thousand candles won’t stop the bullets in Liberty City.

Leadership and real solutions will. Too bad the Herald offered neither this weekend.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Late Night Blues with B.B. King

Vintage B.B. King from a 1968 televised performance.

Part one

Part two

Thursday, July 10, 2008

NY Times Magazine does Miami...and gets some of it wrong!

The New York Times has posted its upcoming Sunday Magazine cover piece on the website a few days early; a long piece on Cuban-American-Miami politics titled "Will Little Havana Go Blue?" written by David Reiff.

Reiff, who is the son of the late Susan Sontag, belongs to a small, select group. He's one of those intellectual writers whose work is only read by other intellectual writer types.

There's also a slide show that accompanies the piece with all the cliché shots: Calle Ocho, the Versailles, Domino Park, and inexplicably, a boring shot from Lincoln Road, which some New York editor has apparently decided is the hub of Cuban-American politics.

I hope, however, that the piece is more accurate than the captions that go along with two of the pictures in the slide show.According to the New York Times that's Raul Martinez, above..... (Click images to enlarge)

...and that's Joe Garcia.

How could this happen?

It could be something as simple as a production error.

Or the photographer, after a long assignment, confused Martinez and Garcia and submitted the wrong captions. I hope that they got them right in the printed version of the Magazine...otherwise the Times is going to have to print a correction for a mistake that shouldn't have happened in the first place. Either way, it's inexcusable.

I haven't read the entire story yet. But I tend to lose interest whenever I read a piece on Miami politics that's written by a writer who can't come up with anything more imaginative than interviewing a politician (over coffee) at the Versailles.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Sun-Sentinel gets scooped by The Herald

The Herald's Joan Fleischman got herself a neat little scoop of sorts Sunday breaking the news along with a Houston TV station that Alex Rodriguez's wife Cynthia is filing for divorce Monday.

The Associated Press story credited the Herald and Houston TV station KTRK with breaking the story in the first graph of its wire story.
However by the time the story ended up on the Sun-Sentinel website mention of the Herald was omitted. And of course Joanie forgot to mention the Houston station in her story.
The Sun-Sentinel can't bring itself to print the Herald's name.

Interesting sidenote to all of this: Cynthia Rodriguez is represented by Miami divorce attorneys Maurice Kutner and Anthony Sabatino who have experience representing high-profile spouses with the name Rodriguez who have fallen out of love.

Last year they represented CBS4 anchor Eliott Rodriguez in his highly publicized split from Univision anchor Maria Elena Salinas.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Late night guitar--Saturday edition

The hauntingly beautiful "Cavatina" composed by Stanley Myers.

Friday, July 04, 2008

Just a reminder....

...that as of today, Dubya has less than 200 days...198 to be exact, until he's on his way back to Texas!

Room at the top...

...or the incredible shrinking masthead...

Broward New Times blogger Bob Norman has posted a list of many of the Miami Herald staffers whose last day at the paper was Thursday.

More than a few of them devoted most of their adult lives to making the Herald what it is...or once was. I'm not sure if it's possible to say goodbye to all that experience and still put out a quality paper. We'll see.

Miami New Times editor Chuck Strouse also weighed in with a brief tribute.

However, what Chuck didn't write about, are his own troubles at Miami New Times, a paper which some in Miami say, has seen better days.

Over the past year or so, Chuck has watched his masthead shrink as one experienced writer after another has left. Some of those who've left include writers Joanne Green, Rob Jordan, Emily Witt, Calvin Godfrey, Tamara Lush, Isaiah Thompson, and most recently Janine Zeitlin whose last day was yesterday.

Zeitlin's resignation leaves the paper with just two staff writers, one of whom is a restaurant critic.

Associate editor Frank Houston has also announced his intention to leave the paper.

Chuck's not a happy man these days. At a recent going-away gathering for a departing staffer, Chuck was described by one New Times insider as "looking like someone had just run over his puppy."

But while the Herald is letting people go, New Times is looking to hire new people to replenish its masthead.

They're looking for full-time staff writers and a managing editor.

Whether those new hires will be enough to lift New Times out of the morass that it now finds itself in remains to be seen.

Not only is feisty paper losing people, it's also losing pages and advertising. Not too many years ago the weekly's page count was usually 132 pages or more. The page count these days barely climbs over 80.

The physical dimensions of the paper have also been pared down in the wake of a recent re-design.

Chuck isn't the only editor at New Times to experience problems.

Managing independent-minded journalists has always been a task akin to herding cats as Chuck's predecessor at New Times, the legendary Jim Mullin, would attest.

In the summer of 2005 Jim had his hands full of problems, caused by an out of control managing editor.

The July 22, 2005 issue of the Daily Business Review reported in a story about the managing editor that "more than a dozen editorial staffers reportedly have left the newspaper over the past 17 months."

However, things were about to get worse for Mullin.

Less than a week after that story appeared in the Daily Business Review, Art Teele walked into the lobby of the Miami Herald, put a gun to his head and splattered his blood and brain matter all over the Herald's polished marble floors and towering glass windows.

That same day an issue of New Times had just hit the streets with a story titled “Tales of Teele: Sleaze Stories.” The article contained excerpts from police reports accusing Teele of corruption, drug use and paying prostitutes for sex. Some say the New times article pushed Teele over the edge.

A month later Mullin announced his decision to step down as editor of the paper after 18 years.

Over those 18 years Mullin labored mightily to shape and mold New Times until it became an integral part of the South Florida journalism landscape, breaking stories that the Herald couldn't or wouldn't do.

It was must reading for many in power in South Florida; one reason being just to see if they were a part of the current week's issue.

If they did end up in the paper more often than not it wasn't good. New Times didn't do many puff pieces on politicians.

And Mullin didn't just go after politicians.

And once, after a classic New Times piece that made fun of the very unfunny Dave Barry, a Herald executive said "...he wanted to squish us [New Times] like insects."
There was even talk of legal action against New Times.

But now, some in South Florida say that New Times is not the same paper it once was.

"The paper has deteriorated greatly from a few years ago," says a veteran Miami journalist.

The paper which once carried such journalistic heavyweights on its masthead like Kirk Semple, Tris Korten, Robert Andrew Powell, Rebecca Wakefield and no pun intended, Jim Defede now has a stable of unknown contributing writers that apparently no one reads.

Recently Herald managing editor Dave Wilson told an incredulous Isaiah Thompson, that he hadn't read Thompson's gritty New Times story on sex offenders prior to his own paper publishing a similar story.

When I pointed this out to a former New Times staffer he responded: "Wilson may not be far off the mark; from what I hear, not many people are reading New Times these days."

Maybe with an infusion of new blood Chuck Strouse can rebuild New Times into a respectable semblance of its former self. Or maybe not.

In the meantime Jim Mullin has moved further up the boulevard, buying the monthly paper Biscayne Times early last year.


DISCLAIMER: I worked as a freelance photographer for New Times during the Mullin years and most recently wrote articles for his new paper, the Biscayne Times.

Happy 4th of July!

This version of "America" by Ray Charles never fails to put a lump in my throat.....

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Meet my roommate!

Blogging about blogging...

  • Leonard Pitts shares his thoughts on blogging in response to a question I asked him yesterday during his chat:

    Q: ....On another note, have you ever thought of starting a blog? I did recently as it gives me an outlet to think out loud and share my thoughts in "real time." If you were to do a blog I think it would quickly become very popular!

    A: Thanks for the thought, but I doubt it'll happen. Most blogs strike me as bits of unpolished, undigested thought, something you dash off as opposed to something you really write. It's just not something I really want to do.

    I guess Leonard didn't see this memo written by Tribune Chairman and CEO Sam Zell where he talks about, among other things, the political blog on the LA Times website (written by two veteran political reporters with decades of experience) receiving over 2 and half million page views in May and the fact that it's one of the top ranked blogs in the world. Pitts' remarks are even more proof that some in the newspaper industry are hopelessly stuck in the past and resistant to change.

  • Meanwhile in New York, the proliferation of food bloggers taking pictures of food is upsetting some restaurateurs so much that they've taken to hiding them away from other patrons and one restaurant has an outright ban on food photography.

    "Sir! Put the camera down and step away from the sushi!"

  • Is this the Face of Evil?

    I am convinced that any photographic attempt to show the complete man is nonsense. We can only show, as best we can, what the outer man reveals. The inner man is seldom revealed to anyone, sometimes not even the man himself. - Arnold Newman, photographer ~(1918-2006)

    The New York Times Magazine has posted a "preview" of their Sunday cover piece on conservative talk-mesiter Rush Limbaugh.

    There's lots of buzz surrounding the piece in media circles.

    The piece alone would have generated an inordinate amount of discussion on any given week.

    But that's been magnified ten-fold by the news yesterday that Limbaugh has signed an 8 year, $400 million deal with Premiere Radio Networks. Oh, I almost forgot, he also got a $100 million "signing bonus."

    I haven't read the entire piece yet but I was intrigued by the cover photo shot by British photographer Nigel Parry.

    As soon as I saw it I was immediately reminded of a portrait of German industrialist Alfred Krupp shot by the late Arnold Newman.

    Newman was sent to Germany in 1963 by Newsweek magazine to photograph Krupp.

    Krupp used slave labor in his factories during WWII. Some of his factories were within walking distance of Nazi death camps.

    Newman, who was Jewish, was at first repulsed by the fact that he'd been given the assignment to photograph a monster.

    But once in Germany, Newman set out to show Krupp at his most evil and ghoulish, using intricate lighting. He allowed the factory's fluorescent lights to give Krupp's skin a greenish cast.

    The picture of Krupp is one of Newman's more famous photographs and some have called it the "personification of evil."

    After the picture was published Krupp said he would have Newman declared persona non grata in Germany.

    I'm not sure what Nigel Parry had on his mind when he set out to photograph Limbaugh, but I am sure the resulting photograph is exactly what he intended.

    Don't eff with this cat!

    Thanks to Rob S. for the heads up!

    Coming soon to a country near you....

    ....loss of freedoms.

    Frightening that the events in this video didn't happen in Cuba or North Korea or China.

    They happened in the United Kingdom which I thought was a democracy. I guess part of the problem is they have no written constitution and just make up things as they go along.

    Tuesday, July 01, 2008

    South Beach Pimpmobile...the rest of the story!

    Kimberly Daniels ponders a career change.

    Looks like just about everyone in the media lost interest in the infamous South Beach Pimpmobile Caper almost immediately after it happened. Too bad!

    Well, that is except Newsweek and The Smoking Gun. has some fascinating new info on the owners of the World's Most Famous Stretch Limo including the fact that they
    C'mon guys! If you're gonna peddle flesh get a real website!

    But our friends at The Smoking Gun have outdone everyone and obtained the mugshots that all South Florida wants to see!

    After looking at those mugshots I have just one question: Do they buy those earrings by the case?

    Buying some time for The Herald

    There's probably nothing more pathetic than a once great prize fighter, past his prime, who keeps climbing into the ring, but then simply refuses to fight.

    The Miami Herald is, right now, in a fight for its life.

    The Herald is THE largest and most influential information provider in South Florida.

    The Herald's power and weight cuts a wide swath across all segments of daily life in South Florida. It alone decides what is news, not only by what stories they choose to cover, but also by what they choose not to cover.

    The influence the Herald wields has an effect on every other media outlet in South Florida. Pop in on a morning news meeting at any Miami TV station and you'll find a copy of the Herald on the conference table. A good portion of the stories that show up on the six o'clock news are driven by what was in the Herald that morning.

    The Herald also tackles stories that TV stations can't or won't do.

    A prime example is the Herald's 2006 "House of Lies" investigation of the Dade County Housing Agency. Within days of the first story six county officials were fired or resigned. Those firings and resignations happened even before all of the stories in the series were published.

    But at times the Herald gets it wrong and compounds the problem by bullying.

    In its coverage of Herald reporters found to be on the payroll of Radio and TV Marti, the Herald smeared and bullied those same reporters. But the icing on the cake was when Herald publisher Jesus Diaz tried to bully editors into killing a Carl Hiaasen column that was critical of his handling of the ensuing brouhaha.

    Cooler heads prevailed and Hiaasen's column ran and Diaz was forced to resign.

    So now, in spite of its past excellence and when it's more important than ever for the Herald to keep fighting, it appears that it's throwing in the towel.

    You don't have to look very far to find proof the Herald just doesn't care any longer.

    And that's a shame.

    Like it or not, the Herald has long been an influence for good in South Florida. Its reporters have won 19 Pulitzer Prizes. At one time it had the largest circulation of any paper in the state. No longer. The St Petersburg Times now has a larger circulation.

    But what's happening now at the Herald is all the more tragic because, after all, we're not talking about some weekly paper in Pahrump, Nevada. The Herald is a paper that was once on the list of the top 20 newspapers in the country.

    There may come a day in the not too distant future when the Herald ceases publication. That's completely contrary to Herald publisher David Landsberg's recent remark that "the newspaper industry has a great future." But I expect him to say that even if he's not being realistic.

    What's really puzzling is why the Herald is allowing the quality of its paper to deteriorate so rapidly.

    I mean if you're coming to the end of the road, why not go out kicking and screaming and clawing? Put up a fight! At least hold your head up and look like you're trying.

    Maybe the end is inevitable.

    Or maybe, just maybe, they can do something to reverse those circulation losses and increase ad revenue a bit.

    Herewith are my humble suggestions:

    SUGGESTION: The Herald's circulation is going south faster than an out of control roller coaster.

    Why? The Herald updates the website on a continuous basis all day. And then they take all that news and print it and deliver it to subscribers' homes every morning.

    If I'm one of the thousands of paying subscribers who has Internet access during the day and can read the Herald for free, then at some point I'm wondering why I'm paying to have the same news I read yesterday delivered to me the following day in print form. There are, apparently, tens of thousands of subscribers who've figured this out. And they've cancelled the paper.

    Why not use to provide breaking news but hold back posting non-breaking news and longer feature stories on the site? Print them in the morning paper instead. Once they've been published then they can be posted on the site.

    The way they're doing it now would be like Publix giving away fresh-baked bread everyday and then charging for the leftover stale loaves the next day.

    SUGGESTION: Lose the boring broadsheet format and go ....(GASP!!) tabloid! Yes, tabloid!

    They have the subscribers by the short ones. They're going to read the paper no matter what format it's in.

    But if I'm out on the street and pass by a news rack and I see thisI keep moving. There's nothing there to grab me and pull me in.

    But if I see this I might stop and buy the paper. I'm certainly not going to ignore it!

    They have nothing to lose. The way they're doing it now isn't cutting the mustard.

    NOTE TO HERALD: If you go this route start off slowly at first. These guys in NY are pros and have been writing ass-kicking heds like this for years. Take baby steps and work up to stuff like this. It's not for the faint of heart.

    SUGGESTION: FIX THE DAMN WEBSITE!! It's a mess! 'Nuff said!
    EDIT: Back in Dec. of last year editor Rick Hirsch sent me this...

    From: Hirsch, Rick - Miami (
    You may not know this sender.Mark as safe|Mark as unsafe
    Sent: Wed 12/19/07 6:08 PM

    Again, Bill, thanks for the feedback. Some good points, some I would quarrel with. On our site usability, you are painfully correct. We've begun a process of redesigning the site with cleaner, simpler navigation. It isn't an overnight fix -- far from it -- but it will make a big difference.

    I guess they're still tweaking.

    SUGGESTION: Sell ads on page one. Other papers, including el Nuevo, are doing it.What advertiser wouldn't want to be seen on some prime front page real estate? Do it before your page one property values become worthless.

    SUGGESTION: Change the editorial focus of the paper. Right now much of it reads like a boring Sunday school sermon. It's really not all that different from what it was 40 years ago. Not to mention that it's oh so politically correct.

    Look around. Things are changing. Get feisty, fight dirty, kick ass and go after sacred cows! Get competitive. Be outrageous!

    A side note: Magazine pioneer Clay Felker died today. I was intrigued by these two paragraphs in his NY Times obit:

    "Mr. Felker’s magazine (New York) was hip and ardent, civic-minded and skeptical. It was preoccupied with the foibles of the rich and powerful, the fecklessness of government and the hijinks of wiseguys. But it never lost sight of the complicated business and cultural life of the city. Articles were often gossipy, even vicious, and some took liberties with sources and journalistic techniques.....Meanwhile, what he called its “secret weapon,” its service coverage — on where to eat, shop, drink and live — kept many readers coming back."
    Not to mention those great covers week after week.

    Can the Herald say that? I think not. New York magazine today is everything the Herald is NOT!

    But there's no reason why the Herald can't take some of the things that made New York magazine a success and apply them locally.

    SUGGESTION: A word about service coverage. They took a step forward a few months ago when they launched It was supposed to be a portal site but they have a long way to go.

    Right now when I need to look for a restaurant I go here: The New Times website. It's the gold standard for all things Miami.

    SUGGESTION: Hire or assign a blogger to do nothing but blog full-time for the website.

    Get someone who has the ability to go for the jugular like a Jim Defede and with the sources of a Joan Fleischman and then turn them loose. Guaranteed to make those page views go up if it's done right. Right now the Herald blogs are about as exciting as vanilla ice cream and as compelling as the phone book.

    So if you're at the Herald you're asking yourself "who is this guy and what makes him so smart?" I'm no one really, just someone who's been reading the the Herald since 1960.

    And if you're at the Herald and reading these suggestions you might be saying "it's no use, nothing's going to help us now."

    To that I say: Your way isn't working so what do you have to lose?

    It's up to you. Like the champion fighter you can keep fighting or you can take a dive and throw in the towel.