Wednesday, December 29, 2010

A tale of two tragedies

Sometimes, the search for a major news story in the pages of the Miami Herald can be just as futile as George W. Bush's hunt for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

But I was certain that the story of the tragic deaths Monday of 5 Little Haiti teens in a Hialeah motel would be different. Surely, I thought, this was a story that would dominate much of the Herald's front page yesterday.

I was wrong.

Herald editors buried six paragraphs of an excellent story on the tragedy by staff writers Laura Isensee, Diana Moskovitz and Nadege Charles in the bottom right-hand corner of Tuesday's paper. The rest of the story was moved inside, presumably to protect younger or easily-offended readers.

Editors at the paper apparently thought a weather story and a story on the state's dying dog racing industry were more important and compelling.

In addition to the three Herald writers who worked on the story, staff photographer Carlos Guerrero also provided top-notch still and video coverage. For some unknown reason, not one of Guerrero's gripping photos made the pages of the paper.

One wonders if the story might have been played more prominently had the 5 young men lived in Pinecrest or if they had attended school at Gulliver Prep.

The story also offers news watchers an inside glimpse into the decision making processes at not just our local paper, but also the national media.

A search of Google New reveals a little over 800 links to stories on the Hialeah deaths. A 65-word AP dispatch was posted on the New York Times website.

By comparison, a ski lift accident that injured 8 people yesterday at the Sugarloaf Ski Resort in Maine has over 2,000 links on Google News.

And cable news channels, which barely mentioned the Hialeah story, have been running hourly stories on the ski lift accident. Fortunately for CNN, one of their employees just happened to be at Sugarloaf and witnessed the incident. Use your imagination to figure out how overblown their coverage has been.

And unlike Miami Herald editors, Maine newspaper editors know how to play an important story.

Coverage of the "Sugarloaf Tregedy" dominated the front pages of Maine's 5 major dailies today!

Click image to enlarge

-front page images via


  1. Yes, on the online version, this tragic story was relegated online to an item on the right and then left spots--maybe occupying the main story slot very briefly before being replaced by baseball star non-story, fluff, wire service or non-local story.

    There were so many reasons this horrible event deserved more prominent coverage: its scope, the safety (or lack thereof) of the hotel, a cautionary tale for folks who don't know about carbon monoxide poisoning. But a Heat/sports story always takes precedence.

  2. Online the story was the main lead for part of the day on Tues Dec. 28, and it the follow-up has been the lead display on for most of the day today, Wednesday Dec. 29. It's up there now - at 4:53 p.m.


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