Friday, October 17, 2014

Random Pixels reader accuses Herald reporters of being 'lazy'

A little over four years ago, 23 Miami Herald journalists, alarmed at the growing trend of using tweets and anonymous reader comments in stories, complained to their colleagues in a rant posted on the paper's internal bulletin board.
But perhaps most disturbing, on Tuesday we allowed an anonymous poster, "unhappyatjackson," to suggest that one Jackson employee "needs to be fired" while another, Marvin O'Quinn, "needs to go to jail." When did the Herald decide it was appropriate to allow people to attack others ... perhaps libel them ... in print, and anonymously?

Fast forward four years.

Below is part of an email I received this morning from a long-time reader of this blog who took issue with a recent Herald story that included anonymous comments from the blog, exMiami...a blog that Miami New Times describes as a "mysterious real estate news site."

From the email:
I am horrified [that] professional journalists [at the Herald], are too lazy to do research or verify what's being put on the blog, [exMiami] and are quoting them as an authoritative source.

Last Sunday, for example, Andres Viglucci and Hannah Sampson had a page 1A piece in the paper about the proposed museum/office tower that Bruce Berkowitz wants to build on Biscayne Boulevard.

Too lazy to actually, like, go ask real people what they think about the design of the building, Viglucci/Sampson simply quoted from the comments section of exMiami.

From the story:

The Fairholme building’s unusual design and prominent location, though, seem sure to spur a lively public debate. When renderings were posted on the website recently, one commenter called it “awful” and another compared it to the Jawa Sandcrawler in Star Wars. But others embraced it just as forcefully: “YES YES YES! I love it!” went one fan. “Bravo!” went another.
So, according to our paper of record, anonymous commenters on an anonymous blog whose backers and motivation are unknown are THE SAME THING as real people standing in the public square having a "lively public debate."

This is terrible, very bad journalism. How does Viggluci know that these comments are being made by independently-minded people and not shills for a special interest related to the project? How does he even know it's more than one person making these posts?

FOOTNOTE: Andres Viglucci is one of the 23 Miami Herald reporters who, four years ago, signed the internal bulletin board post that decried the use of tweets and anonymous comments in the Herald's news stories.

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