|From Miami New Times, June 8, 1995.|
"People are fleeing in record numbers and not being replaced. Morale has hit bottom. News coverage has been severely curtailed. Money is scarce. And the corporate big shots love it." -"The Incredible Shrinking Herald," by Jim DeFede. Miami New Times, June 8, 1995
The Miami Herald held its "annual meeting" at Jungle Island on Thursday.
The purpose of these yearly affairs is to get Herald staffers together in one room and bring them up to speed on what's going on at the paper. And to remind them that they're supposed to be "excited" about working at Miami's "24/7 Information Source."
Think Amway convention meets North Korean pep rally
swag bags with chunks of marble from the lobby were handed out.
At the meeting, much of the talk centered around the paper's upcoming move to its new building in Doral.
The affair was catered by Doral-area restaurants which staffers will presumably be patronizing since the new building doesn't have a cafeteria.
There were some light-hearted moments also: A video was screened that showed Herald publisher David Landsberg preparing for the move to the new building by being bound and trussed in bubble-wrap.
Staffers, I'm told, left the meeting with a renewed sense of purpose and a clear vision of their goal in life: Producing South Florida's best newspaper.
And that was in evidence the very next day.
Splashed across Friday's front page was an example of good, old-fashioned American journalism - a hard-hitting, no-punches-pulled, page-one piece on .... Early Child Development.
(Dave Lawrence may have retired as publisher in 1999, but he still knows how to pitch a story.)
"The Herald has developed a great sensitivity, even a skittishness, about offending local leaders. It's hard to even find a news picture on the front of the local page any more. There is just this steady stream of pictures of kids smiling or Smurfs on parade or something else like it." -Kevin Hall, former Tropic magazine editor, quoted in Miami New Times, June 8, 1995.
What wasn't brought up at the Jungle Island pep rally, was any talk of recent departures of key Herald staffers including, Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter and editor Michael Sallah, education reporter Laura Isensee, Caribbean and Latin America reporter Frances Robles, photographer Tim Chapman and healthcare issues reporter John Dorschner....staffers who apparently won't be replaced in the forseeable future. The Herald hasn't made a new hire in years.
|Miami Herald employees pose in front of building, circa 2003.|
But if you're a Herald reader, there's still reason to be hopeful.
Sure, the paper's coverage of local stories that actually impact readers' lives is a spotty and haphazard.
But, its coverage of the failed nation of Haiti is second to none. And, if you're like me, you just can't wait to read another page one story about Haiti...after all the important local stories have been covered.
And, the paper still has a dance critic.