Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Miami Herald misses another important story

From today's Miami Herald:
The city of Miami paid assistant fire Chief Veldora Arthur more than $120,000 to stay home after she’d been federally indicted on mortgage fraud charges — despite a policy stating that non-union employees charged criminally should be placed on unpaid leave or reassigned.

For seven months, Arthur’s only work responsibilities were to be in her house 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays, with an hour lunch break, and to call the office twice a day.
Arthur, who hired two lawyers for her defense, took at least two vacations while she awaited trial. Court records show she was granted permission to travel to North Carolina and the Bahamas. She also cashed in 125 hours of accumulated vacation time, at the cost of more than $11,000 to the city.
In most American cities - especially cities with massive budget shortfalls - the news of a high-ranking city employee under criminal indictment being paid more than $120,000 to sit home and do nothing would be front page news.

The Herald ran the story deep inside the local section on page 3B.

Click to enlarge.

The Herald's sister publication, El Nuevo Herald ran the story - reported by Melissa Sanchez - on its front page Tuesday.

I first spotted the story on El Nuevo's website in the early hours of Tuesday morning.

When it didn't appear in English on the Herald's website by late Tuesday morning, I sent executive editor Mindy Marques an email asking when readers might expect it to be posted on the website. She responded by explaining that the story was missing because of a "mix-up."

But, it's not the first time the Herald has downplayed this story.

Editors at the paper, and Chuck Rabin, the Herald's veteran Miami City Hall reporter, have gone out of their way to ignore it, hoping perhaps, that it will just go away.

It's Rabin's job to ferret out stories like this. But, on this one, he's been getting his butt kicked by a young El Nuevo Herald reporter with decades less experience.

Lately, Rabin - who I'm told is also covering county government - has been missing in action on other important stories.

Back in October, he missed the story of the Miami cop who was stopped and arrested by an FHP trooper for speeding on Florida's Turnpike. Back then I wrote:
One of the most popular stories on the Miami Herald's website Saturday was the tale of Fausto Lopez, a lead-footed City of Miami cop who was arrested at gunpoint by a Florida Highway Patrol trooper earlier this month after he was spotted zipping along a darkened stretch of the Florida Turnpike in his patrol car at 120 mph.

However, for some unexplained reason the story wasn't available to readers of the print edition of Saturday's Herald.

But, the story did make it into print and was displayed on page one of the Saturday edition of El Nuevo Herald.

(The story finally appears - 24 hours late - in Sunday's Miami Herald...on page 1B.)

Meanwhile, readers of Sunday's El Nuevo Herald are learning new details related to this story that aren't available to readers of the Miami Herald.
Yesterday, I chatted with a friend about the stark differences between the Herald's and El Nuevo Herald's coverage of the Veldora Arthur story.

He responded by asking me, "Why don't you talk to someone in charge at One Herald Plaza and see if you can convince them to print an English language version of El Nuevo Herald. I'd subscribe to that paper," he told me with a sly wink.

1 comment:

  1. Sign me up!
    I, too, would subscribe to "The New Herald!"
    If the folks at Once (cq) Herald Plaza wize up, they can still make money off us Anglos by giving us complete, timely coverage of our community.


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