Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Two newspapers...two approaches to a major story

Ocean Drive Magazine,
Sept. 2013.
(Click to enlarge.)
The Miami Herald lost two more long-time staffers last Friday.

An editor and reporter with a combined 45 years of experience left the paper.

Since the beginning of the year, no fewer than a dozen reporters and editors with decades of experience have either retired or resigned.

Last February, staff writer John Dorschner retired after 42 years at the paper.

None of those journalists have been replaced with new hires. Herald managers now fill vacancies from within by playing Newsroom Musical Chairs.

The size of the staff is not the only thing that's shrinking. Today's paper is a mere 56 pages.

But, not everyone is pessimistic about the Herald's future.

While paging through the September issue of Ocean Drive Magazine, I found this eloquent paean to Miami's Gray Lady that notes the paper's move last May to a much smaller building in Doral.

Click here to enlarge.

The writer, Jess Swanson, quotes former Miami Herald editor Bob Radziewicz as saying: "The Miami Herald is not a building, it's the people who work in the building. No matter where it's located, [it] will do what it has done for decades - watch over government and politicians, the education system, and daily life in South Florida."

That quote got me wondering about a couple things: 1) Has Bob read the Herald lately? and, 2) Who is Jess Swanson?

Turns out that Jess is a journalism student at the University of Miami where Bob Radziewicz also happens to teach journalism. (C'mon, Jess! Interviewing your that the best you can do?)

But Bob is right about one thing: The Herald is watching over "daily life in South Florida."

Just one problem, though. You have to read Spanish.

Here's Exhibit A.

Below is the front page of today's el Nuevo Herald.

Dominating most of the page is the story of a police investigation into the bizarre discovery this past weekend of the body of an 18 year-old woman in deep South Miami-Dade County. The Spanish-language paper assigned two reporters and a photographer to cover the story yesterday.

The story broke Saturday when witnesses saw woman's body fall out of a truck. Her corpse was later discovered at a construction site.

Page 1A of el Nuevo Herald, Sept. 25, 2013.

And the Miami Herald? How have they been covering the story?

Well, they haven't. Unless you consider cutting and pasting stories from TV station websites "covering a story." (Are you paying attention, Bob?)

And those cut and paste jobs - without exception - have all ended up on the inside pages of the Herald's local news section.

Let's face it, if you're "borrowing" material from a TV station's website on a regular basis - instead of doing your own reporting - you're probably going to want to hide the evidence.

Page 4B of the Miami Herald, Sept. 25, 2013.

Seriously, why does one newspaper give a story page one treatment while the other buries it?

As I wrote last Saturday, it appears that "Herald editors live in some sort of parallel where crime is almost non-existent, or at the very least, something unpleasant that one does not talk about in polite company."

Or maybe those same editors believe that bodies falling out of trucks in South Florida is daily occurrence, and one not worthy of coverage.

Perhaps that's a subject Bob Radziewicz can discuss with his journalism students at UM.

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