Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Fred Grimm is not quite ready to hang it up

Fred Grimm (back in the day)

Fred Grimm (now)
You don't need a Masters degree in journalism to know that the Miami Herald ain't what it used to be.

But the one thing that hasn't changed over the years is the quality of the columns produced by Fred Grimm.

Every time I read one of Fred's columns I felt as though I'd learned something new, and I put down the paper feeling just a little bit smarter.

Something else about Fred: He's a good listener.

Last February after some local TV stations had posted a bizarre mug shot of a man arrested in Broward County, I learned that the man in the mug shot was a combat veteran who had served three tours in Iraq and was now suffering from PTSD.

I got Fred on the phone and asked if he could make it right....and he did.

But after noticing that his columns weren't appearing as often, I dropped him a note asking why that was.

Fred got back to me saying that he was now "semi-retired," writing one column a week, and adding...

I feel lucky to have this forum. And I'm sincere about being able to spend more time reporting and writing. Three columns a week in 2016 entails a lot more time consuming non-writing, non-reporting work than three columns a week in 1991 -- headlines, posting photos, pull-out quotes, pull-out facts, hyperlinks, search engine optimizer words that one hopes will catch the attention of the Google algorithms, earlier deadlines, with fewer copy editors.

[But] we're in an era when it's all about the metrics and apparently my metrics sucked.

(A tiresome refrain from former newspaper guys about "how great we used to be" utterly discounts how fucking hard our reporters are working in today's newsroom. I know. I've been around the Herald since 1976, back when reporters could do great stuff and would still have time to write novels right there in the newsroom. That would be unimaginable in 2016. These people work like dogs. And I'm an old dog.)

Anyway, the numbers are simply the inarguable reality of the digital age. And that's the age in which we live. It ain't 1991.


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