Sunday, May 04, 2008

Who's in charge at the Herald?

Click on photo to enlarge

Who's in charge? No one, apparently.

This morning I scanned the Herald's website looking for something stimulating to read.

On most days this is an exercise in futility.

But this morning I found a link to Leonard Pitts' column prominently displayed "above the fold" on the Herald's homepage.

What caught my attention was the paragraph below the headline/link that postulated if Rev. Wright were white he'd probably have his own show on TV and perhaps his own network. Pretty provocative stuff. So I clicked on the link to see what Leonard had to say.

As usual Leonard's column was excellent; in this case a measured, dispassionate repudiation of Rev. Wright's bigotry.

But missing was the part about what if Rev. Wright was white and had a TV show etc. I re-read the column thinking perhaps I'd missed something.

But the paragraph wasn't there.

Confused I looked around and noticed a link on the left hand side of the page: "White politicos have their own pulpit gasbags."

I clicked on it to find a Carl Hiaasen column that in fact contained the paragraph I was looking for.

Whoever put the page together had for some strange reason pasted a graph from Hiaasen's column under the link to Pitt's column.


The Herald is in big trouble.

We already know that subscribers are leaving in droves.

What used to be a great newspaper, one of the top 20 in this country, has become a pitiful shadow of its former self.

The daily print publication is a pathetic parody of a newspaper.

Everyone pretty much agrees that the future of journalism is on the Internet.

But is this how the Herald intends to make the transition? With silly mistakes that makes it appear as though a 12 year-old is putting together their website?

I talked to a source at the Herald a few days ago.

What I was told bore out what we're seeing daily from Miami's largest information provider.

Morale is rock bottom or non-existent.

Experienced people are being forced out. The latest to leave according to my source is Marty Merzer, a senior writer at the Herald and a mainstay among Miami journalists.

The website is a disaster that even FEMA couldn't fix.

As with the print edition traffic is down on the website.

There are broken links on a daily basis or links that go to the wrong stories.

The site itself is difficult to navigate. Stuff mysteriously appears and then disappears minutes later and is impossible to find.

Stories are only available for a week or two before they are archived and then the Herald charges users to access them.

(Random Pixels tip o' the day: Get a library card and then you can see all of the Herald articles from the past 25 years for free on the library's website!)

There are still some very proficient journalists at the Herald but they are becoming increasingly disenchanted with a newsroom that's top heavy with managers who can't or won't allocate the resources it takes to produce quality journalism.

One source told me: "We have two managers for every employee and half the employees are 12 years old!"

And the state of the website might have something to do with the fact that during the week only two people are responsible for what goes on the website. That's one more than it takes to maintain this blog!

More bad news if you can stand it: It's going to get worse before it gets better!

The only question I have is why any thinking, intelligent adult still spends money to subscribe to this paper.

1 comment:

  1. "The only question I have is why any thinking, intelligent adult still spends money to subscribe to this paper."

    I'll bite. I still subscribe because there is more news than what shows up on the front page. I buy the Herald, The Keynoter and The Upper Keys Reporter because I want the ads, coupons and local news that may or may not be online but is so buried I couldn't find it to save my own life on the laptop but is easy to peruse in print. I buy it because my kids see me read it and they want to read it. I caught my 15 yo son snatching it off my dining room chair and reading it over cereal yesterday. They aren't going to get all the news that affects them online. I read it when I'm stuck on the 18 mile stretch which is often. I read it when the bridge is up and I am stuck for ten minutes.

    The print newsroom doesn't control the online Herald layout as far as I know. It doesn't excuse it but putting out a daily edition and keeping online content fresh and current with ever decreasing staff is nearly impossible. Two? They are down to two? I think it was five when I left. The more they rely on their geeks the more mistakes like this you are going to see. The computer gods just put things where they are told to put them. There are no extra eyes for QA anymore.

    The Herald used to turn a healthy profit, but that money had to sustain many other papers that did not turn a profit. Now that it's been aquired by McClatchy there's no telling what load it's now shouldering and how much shared reporting pools offset the costs. They had an article last week that linked to the New York Times! Come on. Really? The Herald is now hosting article blurbs for the Times?


    I'll still subscribe. It's the only game in town for real news.


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