Tuesday, January 07, 2014

Miami Herald to readers: 'We're sorry, your call cannot be completed as dialed'

It's easier to order a pizza by phone in Miami than it is to get a 24/7 Information Specialist to answer the phone at the Miami Herald.

But let's say you don't want a pizza. Let's say you merely want to call the paper with a news tip.

Good luck with that.

Here's part of an email I received yesterday:
Hey Bill,

I stumbled across your blog while trying to find a contact in the features department at the Herald. I have been attempting to reach someone there for the past several weeks with no success.

If you have any suggestions on who to contact, I’d appreciate hearing from you.


That's right...people are now writing to me because they can't get anyone to answer the phone at the Herald.

So, being the helpful guy I am, I replied to the writer and supplied her with a few email addresses and the number for the features department.

Today, I told a former Herald staffer about the email.

"You should conduct a little experiment," the former staffer said.

"Try calling the Herald's main number, 305-350-2111, follow the instructions and see what happens," this person told me.

So I called.

When you dial the main number you're told to press 1 for English.

Then a voice instructs, "If you know your party's extension or to dial by name press 1 now."


Then the voice says "If you know your party's four-digit extension you may dial it at any time. For a company directory, press 9 and the # sign."

So, I pressed 9. And that's when the fun began.

I punched in the last name of Howard Cohen, the Herald's occasional music critic and newly-appointed obituary writer.

A friendly female voice instructed me to "press 1 for Randy Cohen, press 2 for... and then a voice popped up, "Hi, this is Craig Nienaber on the metro desk at the Kansas City Star."


I hung up and called back repeated the steps to get Howard.

This time I was given a half dozen choices...but none of them would have connected me to Howard. At one point, I was even given the choice to call one Nick Angiulo, an account manager at the Sacramento Bee.

But I decided to soldier on.

I called back and punched in the name "Andres," for my old friend, reporter Andres Viglucci. The "voice" instructed to press 1 for Andres Lopez at the Macon Telegraph.

Okay, I said to myself, maybe I'm doing something wrong.

I hung up and called back, this time punching in managing editor Rick Hirsch's last name. "I'm sorry, I don't recognize that name," the friendly lady told me.

So, I tried again, this time punching in the letters "h-i-r-s" instead. Success!

"Hi, this is Caty Hirst, Fort Worth city hall reporter. Please leave a message."

I called Lee Williams, the managing editor of the Ft. Worth Star Telegram, who confirmed that Caty Hirst, does indeed, work for his paper. Not the Miami Herald.

He also told me that callers to his paper's main number are also presented with the same options...a list of names of every person in the McClatchy newspaper chain.

The Herald voice mail mystery was solved.

So, the next time you call the Herald, you may not be able to reach anyone in the newsroom, but if you push the right buttons, you may get to speak to that guy Craig in Kansas City.


  1. That could've been from a Larry Gelbart script!

  2. McClatchy executive: "Let's save money and buy ONE phone answering system that will serve all 30 newspapers in the chain. What could go wrong?"



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