Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The Herald's Myriam Marquez turns in some sloppy 'journalism'

The Miami Herald's Myriam Marquez sat down at her computer in the paper's fifth floor newsroom last week to write a column for Sunday's paper.

Her finished piece - 554 words - can best be summed up in just eight: Mayor Manny Diaz, good - Mayor Carlos Alvarez, bad.

Marquez's column can hardly be described as cerebral or studious. And it's certainly not journalism. The time she spent writing that column probably would have been better utilized had she wandered around Bayside for an hour looking at tchotchkes.

The gist of Marquez's piece is that while Miami mayor Manny Diaz has had a few missteps in his two terms as Miami's mayor, he's basically a good guy.
"Diaz is heading toward a strong finish."

"His administration set out to digitally wire the city, build a new baseball stadium with Miami-Dade County picking up most of the tab and change the Magic City's future look with the Miami 21 zoning code that's pedestrian friendly. All while reducing the city's operating expenses the past two years by about $100 million to offset the foreclosure mess that left thousands of new condos empty."
Miami Dade mayor Carlos Alvarez on the other hand - according to Marquez - "has not lived up to his promise as a reformer." That's it Myriam? What else is new?

CBS 4's Jim DeFede gave this subject the treament it deserves in a web column posted on the station's web site Monday.

DeFede, offers up a different view of Manny Diaz - and of Marquez's column.

And he doesn't mince words.
"It was a column about a good mayor and a bad mayor and in Myriam's view Manny Diaz is the good mayor."

"Manny Diaz – the good mayor? Excuse me a second but while typing that last sentence I threw up a little bit."
"Carlos Alvarez has made many, many mistakes. And I will address those in a few moments. But to praise Diaz is laughable. For those of us who have actually lived here during the Manny Diaz Era, his term cannot come to an end soon enough."
"Manny Diaz was always style over substance. He had the slick appeal of a politician who knows how to read a poll or follow public opinion. He jumped on trends – like the move to turn the city more environmentally efficient – not because it was the right thing to do, but because it might get him national attention or an invite to the White House. Every move Manny Diaz has made or will make is a calculation designed to advance one person – Manny Diaz."
Marquez's column is just one more glaring example of how far the quality of a once great newspaper has declined.

Her column offered few facts and almost no new information on this complex subject.

One has to wonder how much research Marquez did before writing that Diaz was headed for a "strong finish."

From DeFede's column:
"After his election in 2001, the mayor continued to be a partner in the seafood restaurant, even though it presented an obvious conflict of interest since the restaurant rented space from the city. Nevertheless, he kept his stake in Monty's."

"Of course you would think – being as smart as he is – that Diaz would have made sure everything between Monty's and the city was above board and proper. But sure enough three years into his term, the public discovered the mayor's restaurant was behind almost $200,000 in rent payments to the city, that it owed the county nearly $100,000 in delinquent property taxes, and that it had stiffed the state almost $250,000 in sales tax payments."
Marquez does have an excuse for the gaps in her reporting. The Herald's web site says that she's only worked at the paper since October, 2005. So I guess that's an excuse for not remembering much of Manny Diaz's checkered past.

But there's always research Myriam.

You might want to dabble in a little of that before you write your next column.

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