Monday, June 30, 2008

NOTE TO PERP: Be careful what you wish for...

Mugshot via The Smoking Gun. I'd say he might be well on his way to fulfilling that prophecy.

Where bigotry and ignorance reign

I've always wondered why some of the people who are in charge of educating children are so ignorant, small-minded and bigoted.

After a high school student in Houma, Louisiana recited a line of her graduation speech in Vietnamese Terrebonne Parish school officials now say all commencement speeches should be spoken in English only, and they want a formal rule that says so.

Yes, small-minded and ignorant and apparently they don't care if everyone knows it.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Cool cat!

I'm an unapologetic cat lover.

So I thought I'd share this slide show of a guy in NYC who takes his cat out on a leash for for walks.

Sunday funnies

Memo to Anders Gyllenhaal

Sent: Sun 6/29/08 3:57 PM

Subject: am I dreaming?

Dear Anders

I know you're probably busy but I wanted to tell you about a nightmare I had last night.

I dreamed that things are so bad at the Herald, that when you let all of those employees go two weeks ago, someone made a terrible mistake and fired all the proofreaders and copy editors.

I woke up in a cold sweat but soon realized I was just having a bad dream.

In a few minutes I drifted back to sleep, confident that you'd never let anything like that happen at the Herald.

Would you?

Hope you're having a great Sunday!

story here

story here

story here

Quote of the Day

“What is uttered from the heart alone, will win the hearts of others to your own.” -Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Up at the Atlanta Speedway this weekend they held something called the "Dukefest," a celebration of the almost but not quite 30th anniversary of the TV show "Dukes of Hazzard."

"You are just as beautiful as you ever was," Tim Truelove, a landscaper from Clermont, declared as he introduced himself to ["Dukes" star Catherine (Daisy Duke)] Bach.

Truelove, who said he owns all the Dukes episodes on DVD, had tears in his eyes and "felt like a teenager all over again" when Bach rested her head on his shoulder and posed for a photo with him.

"I'm just a redneck and she is the biggest celebrity I have ever met," he said triumphantly, clutching her autographed photo.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

It's all about the service!

From yesterday's Herald: To balance Miami-Dade's budget next year, Mayor Carlos Alvarez wants to cut 1,600 county jobs and 4.6 million miles of bus service.

From today's Herald: Undercover Miami Beach detectives Sunday busted a brothel-on-wheels, which charged $40 admission and offered sex for sale inside.

From the Herald story on the "pimp bus":
"We're always looking at ways to make this city a better place to be in," [Det. Juan] Sanchez said. "Our detectives were in the right place at the right time, and were able to realize what they had presented to them."

I'm sure Det. Sanchez said all that with a straight face!

And I can't wait to hear some of the jokes on late-night TV. But someone more clever than I has already asked: "It cost $40 to get on but how much "to get off?"

Monday, June 23, 2008

The Final Stretch

Back in the spring of 2002, while on the beach, someone turned to me and pointed out a lone figure in the distance, running.

"See that guy? He runs every day, he never misses a day."

It turned out the "guy" was Robert Kraft, a "streak runner" and a Miami Beach legend, better known to everyone as "The Raven."

"The Raven," at that point was approaching a milestone, 10,000 days of running - 8 miles a day - without missing a day; his "streak." He started running on Jan. 1, 1975.

This puts him in a very exclusive club.

Thinking this might make a good story I told Jim Mullin, the then editor of Miami New Times about Kraft. He assigned a writer to the story. I shot the photos. Up till then, very few people knew about "The Raven."

The story ran on May 2, 2002, about two weeks before Kraft hit his 10,000th day.

Many days "The Raven" would run alone, but since the New Times story he's always had at least one person running with him.

["The Raven," now 57,] "has never had a driver's license, never flown in an airplane, and never held a full-time job. He rarely leaves Miami Beach, and when he does he can grow shaky with anxiety. He has not ventured further away from home than Fort Lauderdale for more than three decades."

I saw "The Raven" last week and he tells me that he's headed for the home stretch.

Sometime in the spring of 2009, perhaps April, he estimates that he will have racked up 100,000 miles.

"The Raven" likes nice round numbers and he's decided that might be a good time to hang up the running shoes.

If you want to run with "The Raven" before he quits - everyone's welcome - meet up with him any day at the lifeguard station at 5th Street and the Ocean at the new blue and yellow lifeguard stand; 5pm in the summer and 4pm in the winter. Tell him I sent you!

Learn more about "The Raven" here at his website.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

The Miami Herald's Time Machine

It's Sunday, and over at the Herald they're still trying get a handle on the Internets and how it all works.

Today on the "Breaking News" page on the Herald's website, I found a link to a June 14 story about a rescued pup and a link to a June 10 story about slurs painted on a Palmetto Bay building.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Saturday night at the Herald..... apparently when the inmates are in charge. Are things really getting this bad over there?

The time stamp on the story is 7:01pm and as of 9:50pm the story was still posted -uncorrected - with 3 pages of reader comments.

Friday, June 20, 2008

"Cuban time" jokes at Mayor's Conference

Random Pixels has a network of correspondents that feed us news from all over the world.

OK, not really.

But we do have correspondent covering the mayor's conference at the Intercontinental Hotel this week.

Oops! Wrong again.

Seriously, I do have a friend who's there on business and provides me with these choice tidbits:

  • At 2:30 p.m., there's a workshop on digital literacy. Oddly, there is no free wi-fi at the hotel, public or otherwise, and the mayors conference is not providing any internet access to attendees or the press. So I have had to spend $22 to connect for two days.

  • Press conference with all the mayors was held at noon.
    Mayor Diaz was 10 minutes late. "All the other mayors are joking about 'Cuban time'," whispered a mortified Miami city hall insider.

  • Thursday, June 19, 2008

    Pretty words won't save The Herald

    "We have met the enemy and he is us." -Pogo

    The Miami Herald's Leonard Pitts has apparently been burning the midnight oil much like a college freshman studying for a big exam. Or has he?

    Back on May 7, I asked him a question via his online chat about the newspaper business. I wanted his opinion on the Herald's declining circulation and asked if he had an opinion as to why the Herald was doing so poorly.

    He responded that he "didn't have a head for business" and he "wasn't aware of The Herald 'leading the pack' in circulation loss and have no idea why this would be so."

    You can read the full text of my question and his answer here.

    That exchange occurred about 6 weeks ago.

    Today in his column addressing Monday's job cuts at the Herald, Leonard weighs in with loads of opinions on how the newspaper business can extricate itself from the quagmire it now finds itself mired in. Maybe he's been studying. Or maybe not.

    Let me stop here and say that Leonard Pitts is one of the better columnists the Herald has.

    It goes without saying that he's a whole lot smarter than I am.

    He probably lives in a big fine house on a hill up there in the Washington suburbs and watches all his favorite shows on a large flat screen TV as he munches on lobster newburgh or whatever they eat up there in the Washington suburbs.

    He's got himself a Pulitzer Prize too.

    I'm sure his salary makes a large dent in the six figure range, as it should, because Leonard does his job very well.

    He's a columnist and he gets paid to write his opinions. The way he does that is no different than a lot of other fine columnists.

    Leonard strings pretty words together that turn into beautiful sentences. And once he has enough sentences strung together he's got himself a damn fine column. And he gets to keep his job for another week.

    The Herald is so proud of Leonard that they have these large billboards on their delivery trucks that say something like: "Leonard Pitts drops pearls of wisdom on your doorstep twice a week." I wonder who came up with that? Anyway, I digress.

    Leonard's columns are printed in all the McClatchy papers around the country and posted on the Internet. And then all his loyal readers post comments like: "Oh, Leonard, you're so perspicacious and eloquent. I agree with everything you say."

    But in spite of all the money Leonard makes and the praises his employer and readers heap upon him, no one should confuse anything Leonard says with reality. They're just pretty words.

    Today's column, is a fine example. Leonard tackles the problems of the newspaper business in general and the Herald in particular.

    Of the cuts announced last Monday he writes: "...that means 190 jobs throughout the [Herald's] various departments," will be lost.

    I guess he doesn't read his own paper because the Herald's John Dorschner said in a story last Tuesday: "The Miami Herald Media Co. announced plans to reduce its workforce by 250 employees -- 17 percent of its staff."

    Ok, so Leonard is only off by 60.

    Next Leonard tackles the newspaper and the Internet by saying:
    "Maybe we should make our websites not simply online recreations of our papers, but entities in their own right, destination portals for those who want news and views from and about a given city, but also for those who want to find a good doctor in that city, or apply for a job in that city or reach the leaders of that city or research the history of that city. Maybe the goal should be to make ourselves the one indispensable guide to that city."

    Well, I guess Leonard doesn't look at his paper's own website.

    The Herald launched such a site months ago; . It's a portal to all things Miami. It's not very good compared to other portal site for large cities but at least someone at the Herald saw the need for a site like this and got the ball rolling.

    You also need people to maintain a newspaper website and right now the Herald has a grand total of two people doing updates on their site during the day. And a promised redesign of has yet to happen despite a top level editor's assurances to me 6 months ago that it was in the works.

    Next Leonard advises newspapers to "hire away the bright people who figured out how to make Yahoo and Google profitable and ask them to make our sites profitable."

    Well, Alex at Miami and Beyond laughs at that and says:

    "This one made me laugh. Leonard, you can't afford them. They can buy and sell you between two sips of their lattes, if they were in the habit of throwing money away."

    Leonard also says newspapers should require "online readers to pay for the product, just as our other readers do." Rick at South Florida Daily Blog had a answer for Leonard Thursday on his blog:
    "How out of touch are old-school journalists with the Internet and the people who use it? Well, I think Leonard Pitts pretty much showed us with that last sentence."

    Indeed, Rick.

    Had Leonard burned a little more midnight oil he would have learned that one of the most successful and widely read newspaper websites,, scrapped the pay model last year after they decided shutting out millions of readers and putting content behind a pay wall wasn't worth the 225,000 readers and $10 million in revenue. They opted for millions more eyeballs. The LA Times also tried charging readers for its Calendar section online and scrapped it as well.

    So what Leonard offered his loyal readers today was 679 very pretty words but a close reading revealed that once again, beauty is only skin deep.

    There really wasn't anything that showed me that Leonard, in the six weeks since he dodged my question about the circulation numbers, has paid much attention to the predicament the newspaper business finds itself in.

    What the newspaper business really needs Leonard, are fewer pearls of wisdom and more solutions.

    A study in contrast

    Getting information; the old vs. the new.

    photo: Feng Li/Getty Images
    In Yuecheng, a resident read the newspaper in a wooden boat while sitting outside a flooded post office. Flooding has caused the evacuation of 1.6 million people in the southern provinces after China.

    photo: Arno Balzarini
    A shepherd in Obersaxen, Switzerland,using his computer to follow the match between Russia and Sweden in the Euro 2008 soccer championships. Russia won, 2-0.

    Headline writer at Herald working overtime!

    STOP THE PRESSES!!!!!!I'm shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here! -Captain Renault in Casablanca

    I'm just taking a shot in the dark here but I'm guessing the words "Hialeah" and "corruption" haven't appeared in the same sentence in a Herald story in oh....I don't know...a week?

    An exercise in redundancy to be sure!

    Wednesday, June 18, 2008

    Glimpse of a new land

    from the files...

    Date: Summer, 1991.

    Place: Straits of Florida.

    I'm on assignment for the Philadelphia Inquirer taking pictures of Cuban rafters picked up in the waters 35 miles off Marathon.

    A sport fishing boat has radioed the Coast Guard that they've come upon a makeshift raft.

    We head out from Coast Guard Station Marathon to pick them up.

    Once on scene the Guardsmen bring on board, 5 sun-burned Cuban men in their 20's, all tired, bearded, hungry and thirsty. It's high noon and the sun blazes down on the ragged men, but they are smiling.

    The men are given life vests and water and they sit on the deck, exhausted but happy.

    The patrol boat starts back to Marathon and soon we come within sight of land.

    One man sees this and excited, stands up for his first glimpse of a new land.

    He wobbles a bit, weakened by hunger and days at sea, and then reaches out for support.

    I focus with a 20mm lens and snap the shutter.

    As a photojournalist I get to see things first-hand that people read about in the paper the next day.

    And I've covered many stories, a lot of them forgotten...somehow this story and image have stuck with me.

    Growing anger at The Herald

    As the effects of Monday's announcement of the 17% staff reduction at the Herald start to sink in, a growing number of Herald staffers are starting to voice concerns over what they see as inequities in the implementation of the cuts.

    Some staffers have already been shown the door. One newly hired critic was seen cleaning out his desk Monday afternoon.

    Gary Fineout of the Tallahassee bureau and 40 year veteran Phil Long of the Treasure Coast bureau, have been told their positions have been eliminated.

    But several newsroom sources tell me that anger is growing over what they see as preferential treatment given to three newsroom managing editors whose positions have been eliminated but who have been offered alternative employment.

    The three are Rich Hirsch, Managing Editor/Multimedia and Special Projects, Dave Wilson, Managing Editor/News and Liza Gross, Managing Editor/Presentation and Operations.

    All three positions have been eliminated, but both Hirsch and Wilson will keep their jobs at the Herald and perform essentially the same duties.

    Liza Gross, my sources say, will move to Washington and become a reporter in the McClatchy bureau on the World Desk. It's unknown if any of the three former managing editors will be taking a pay cut.

    A memo, parts of which were read to me over the phone, is circulating among disenchanted staffers that calls for a meeting with executive editor Anders Gyllenhaal "to address...concerns and others that may be floating around."

    "People are really pissed at what they see as special treatment given to these three," said a source. "It's just not fair."

    Meanwhile, Herald publisher David Landsberg was quoted in a Herald story today: "We really believe the newspaper industry has a great future."

    I wonder if some of those long-time employees who have spent a good deal of their professional lives at the Herald and are now being told they no longer have jobs would agree with that assessment.

    E-mail tips in confidence to:

    Quick hit

    What could be worse than watching "The View?"

    I'm not sure if anything could possibly be worse but "live blogging" the show is pretty high on the list...and a cry for help!

    Can the Apocalypse be far behind?

    Katie Couric and a dead goldfish!

    CBS Evening News anchor Katie Couric's ratings might be lower than whale poop, but that's not stopping her from yucking it up on her own YouTube channel.

    The LA Times reports that Couric made a quiet debut on the popular site in February.

    So far she's posted 33 videos that show her at her silliest and giddiest. She's only on TV for 30 minutes day, but apparently spends the other 23 and a 1/2 hours chortling and giggling.

    The videos, shot in a cinéma-vérité that's only slightly less shaky than a soccer mom's footage of her daughter's ballet recital, haven't gotten many hits.

    Her TV ratings suck, but she does even worse on YouTube. Her channel so far has less than 25,000 views.

    Piano playing cats do much better.

    So what do Katie and a dead goldfish have in common?

    In one of her videos, Katie conducts a ponderous interview with Sen. Joe Biden and concludes by telling him to watch another YouTube video called "Lucky's funeral" wherein a cute 3 yr.-old girl named Maya dispatches her dead goldfish into the hereafter by giving him the royal flush!

    Katie's right; it's a hoot!

    Tuesday, June 17, 2008

    Only in South Florida!

  • Probably not a good idea showing up at public building with a rifle, even if you are a retired police chief!

  • Here's a good reason NOT to live in a condo. Retired cop is in trouble for playing with a toy motorboat in the lake behind his condo.

    "He can do it in his bathtub all day long but when he does it on common property he's offending the 467 other people who are obeying the rules," said Doreen Zappala, a former board president who fears Madden, 84, might fall and injure himself, making all the owners liable for damages if he or his family sues.

  • A new twist on "dine and dash" with a South Florida flavor!
  • Thoughts ...

    "[It's] essential that we move faster now to realign our workforce and make our operations more efficient. I'm sorry this requires the painful announcement we are making today, but we're taking this action to help ensure a healthy future for our company." - McClatchy CEO Gary Pruitt on his company's decision today to eliminate 1,400 jobs at McClatchy-owned newspapers

    "It became necessary to destroy the village in order to save it." - An American major after the destruction of the Vietnamese Village Ben Tre during the Tet offensive in 1968

    That quote by the American army major kept creeping into my consciousness today as I read Pruitt's statement and absorbed the news from One Herald Plaza.

    The Herald was particularly hard hit by the McClatchy decision to slash jobs compared with other McClatchy papers.

    The Herald will lose some 250 employees through buyouts or layoffs. The Herald can ill-afford to lose any more people; they're running on fumes now.

    The Herald and other newspapers have been in trouble for a long time. Newspapers continue to suffer circulation losses. That's just the way it is and it's not going to get any better.

    The move today might give the McClatchy papers a little more breathing room but it's only postponing the inevitable that's sure to come somewhere down the road.

    And at some point it's just going to become too costly to produce a printed product that no one is subscribing to or buying advertising in.

    And in this Internet age someone in the executive suite must realize that newspapers are spending a lot of money printing and delivering a product that's virtually obsolete when it hits doorsteps in the morning.

    I'm surprised those in charge at McClatchy can't seem to come to grips with this.

    They need to move more quickly to provide quality information via the Internet. Like tomorrow.

    I have a friend whose daughter graduated a few years ago from FSU with a degree in journalism. She immediately went to work for a Florida newspaper. After less than a year she quit to go back to school. She just received her masters in broadcast journalism from UF.

    What happened?

    While working at the paper she realized that there wasn't any future in print journalism. "After all," she told her father: "I didn't even read the paper I worked for."

    She's in her mid-20's. If she can figure this out why can't the people at McClatchy?

    What was missing from all of McClatchy's press releases today was any mention that Gary Pruitt and other McClatchy execs were bearing their share of the "pain" by taking pay cuts. After all, there's plenty of pain go around.

    Some of the people who were fired today...yes, 24 people at the Herald were told today that they were being let go effective immediately. Some of those people have decades of their lives invested with the Herald.

    I'm told by one person that one of those let go, reporter Phil Long, had almost 40 years with the Herald. I can't confirm this but it sounds about right. I've been reading stories with his byline for years.

    I've been reading the Herald for a lot longer than some of the young reporters who work there have been alive. But I realized a few years ago that I was in constant disagreement with the Herald and the thrust of their coverage on many stories.

    It's their paper, ink and presses. They can print what they like; it doesn't mean I have to like it.

    I have no issues with their basic mission of providing information about the people who run this town. The Herald does a great job uncovering wrongdoing and corruption and they have 19 Pulitzers to show for their work.

    Whether or not the Herald will win any more Pulitzers remains to be seen.

    I hope they win more. Quite simply, Miami needs the Herald.

    But after today's events I'm not optimistic.

    I hope McClatchy isn't trying to save the Herald by destroying it.

    You can't spell "cheap" without AP

    From the LA Times:

    "The Associated Press is trying to back out of an Old Media-New Media fight that it didn’t quite mean to pick.

    "The 162-year-old news service will sit down with representatives of a bloggers group Thursday to devise guidelines allowing Internet commentators to use excerpts from AP stories and broadcasts."

    Here's a related story in the NY Times.

    So the AP is accusing bloggers of "copyright infringement" because they post 79 word snippets from their articles?

    What makes this all so ironic is the fact that the AP has been "stealing" copyrighted works from freelance photographers --aka stringers -- for years. The AP also continues to shaft stringers with contracts that are the stingiest and most draconian in the industry.

    Like the saying goes: "You can't spell "cheap" with AP!

    Now THIS is journalism!

    While The Herald dealt with more serious issues on Monday, the folks up at the Sun-Sentinel kept their heads in the sand while dishing up multiple servings of soft porn on their website! Stuff they wouldn't dare print in their "family newspaper"...but hey, this is the Internet!

  • Jenna Jameson at Pangaea Nightclub ...a 270 picture slideshow of her lingerie party!

  • A 49 image slideshow titled "Arm candy: Wives and girlfriends of athletes"

  • And to go with yet another story of a teacher accused of having sex with a student, the Sun-Sentinel trotted out a 12 image retrospective slideshow on former Tampa school teacher Debra Lafave, who was arrested six years ago for having sex with a student. I guess they wanted to remind readers of how hot she is!

    Who says newspapers don't care about quality journalism?

    Not sure what they're trying to prove at the S-S. We're just here to report ... you decide!
  • Monday, June 16, 2008

    Rick was right!

    Rick of the South Florida Daily Blog was right! Actually Word Press is worse than hell!

    So my transition over there is short-lived. I'm back here at blogspot.

    Miami Herald to cut 17% of workforce

    UPDATED at 4:45pm below in red

    NEW: Long time Herald staffer and Treasure Coast bureau chief Phil Long has been fired and his bureau closed says a source. Gary Fineout of the Herald's Tallahassee bureau has also been fired. Twenty-two other Herald employees were told today they no longer have jobs. (More updates below in red.)

    The McClatchy Company, parent company of the Miami Herald, announced Monday that it's slashing its workforce by 10%.

    From the McClatchy press release:

    "The effects of the current national economic downturn -- particularly in real estate, auto and employment advertising -- make it essential that we move faster now to realign our workforce and make our operations more efficient. I'm sorry this requires the painful announcement we are making today, but we're taking this action to help ensure a healthy future for our company."

    (The announcement comes on the heels of more bad news from McClatchy. The company reported Monday a 15.1% decline in advertising revenues in the first five months of the year.)

    My sources say that the Herald will be cutting 17% of its employees. This is confirmed by a story on the Herald's website. About 250 full and part-time employees will be let go through voluntary buy outs or lay offs.

    At another McClatchy owned paper, the Charlotte Observer, publisher Ann Caulkins announced that the Observer is cutting 11% of its workforce or about 123 jobs; 22 of those in the newsroom.

    McClatchy Watch has a breakdown of cuts at other McClatchy-owned papers.

    Herald Watch has a memo from managing editor Anders Gyllenhaal who calls the cuts "cost reductions."

    One sentence in the first graph is very telling.

    "For The Herald newsroom, this will mean a series of steps, including buyouts, reorganization of several departments, a leaner management and an expansion of outsourcing."

    "Leaner management" apparently means that some managers will probably be losing their jobs. And how the newsroom will be affected by "an expansion of outsourcing" remains to be seen.

    The memo goes in to great detail outlining meetings that are going to take up much of the day and where, no doubt, more than a few tears will be shed and feelings laid bare.

    UPDATE: A source reports that the 11pm general meeting with Anders was subdued.

    In all the Herald newsroom will lose 41 people, out of the total of 250 company-wide, or about 12% of the newsroom staff.

    One shocked, long-time staffer when asked for a reaction, could only respond with what has become an oft-repeated cliché: "It's a sad day for journalism."

    (The Herald's 17% cut (higher than other McClatchy papers) was dictated by the fact that the Herald has been hardest hit by the advertising downturn due in part to the bad real estate market in South Florida.)

    Employees are now heading back to their individual departments to find out how they will be impacted.

    Buyouts will be offered to a predetermined number of employees in different departments. If there aren't enough takers, then layoffs will follow.

    My source reports that all managing editor positions are being eliminated however some managing editors, such as Dave Wilson and Rick Hirsch, will retain their jobs under new designations.

    Others like Liza Gross, who is Managing Editor/Presentation & Operations are being reassigned. Gross will become a reporter on the world desk.

    My source reports that El Nuevo Herald will lose 9 positions. The El Nuevo photo staff will be merged with the Herald photo staff.

    Another casualty is the Herald's International edition which will be eliminated outsourced.

    E-mail tips in confidence to:

    Other links (via Romenesko):
    McClatchy Cutbacks Deeper at Some Papers

    Today's cuts may not be enough

    McClatchy executive Howard Weaver offers his insight on the cuts

    Short tempers at the Raleigh News and Observer

    Thursday, June 12, 2008

    Herald newsroom turns to rooster for help!

    Tributes to the Herald's "newsroom rooster" are growing. Photo taken late Thursday afternoon. (click to enlarge)

    UPDATED AT 5:10pm

    Still no word on newsroom layoffs or buyouts at the Miami Herald a day after a top McClatchy executive visited and met with Herald brass.

    However it appears that some in the newsroom can't wait any longer for word from the executive suite.

    They've turned to a higher authority for help.

    A newsroom source reports that someone has left a large life-size replica of a rooster on a counter in the fifth floor newsroom that's visible to all who enter from a bank of elevators. My source says from 20 feet away the bird looks very real.

    A sign attached to the rooster reads: "Brought in by a Santeria priest (the real deal from Hialeah) to help save our jobs. Leave an offering."

    As of 5pm, the counter on which the 20-inch tall colorful rooster stands was littered with an assortment of tributes including coins of all denominations, two wrapped cigars, a half-smoked hand-rolled cigar from Little Havana, a tiny plastic doll with a sign that says: "Feed the niños," a Virgin de Guadalupe candle and what appears to be a plastic "dashboard Jesus."

    There's no humor like newsroom gallows humor.

    Good luck to all at the Herald.

    Wednesday, June 11, 2008

    The latest from One Herald Plaza

    The news from the Miami Herald on Wednesday afternoon is there is no news.

    McClatchy vice president of operations Frank Whittaker, who oversees 10 daily newspapers in California, Florida and the Midwest, was seen coming back from a breakfast meeting this morning with top Herald executives according to my sources.

    Some of the Herald execs attending the breakfast meeting with Whittaker were publisher David Landsberg, executive editor Anders Gyllenhaal, Elissa Vanaver, VP/Human Resources and assistant to the publisher, Rick Hirsch, Managing Editor/Multimedia & Special Projects and Liza Gross, Managing Editor/Presentation & Operations.

    But late Wednesday afternoon no word was forthcoming from the executive suite.

    For weeks rumors have been circulating at the paper of personnel cuts of as much as 15%.

    My sources say the mood in the newsroom is very tense.

    People are "freaking out," said one source adding, "it's a very tense time. They are dealing with people's lives. These are people who have worked their hearts out for this paper. And if it's not this round maybe next round."

    While no one knows yet where the cuts will come from some rumors circulating say the sports department will be spared major cuts.

    But one source said, "they've cut all the fat and now they're starting to cut into the muscle. The newspaper business is changing faster than gas prices."

    Stay tuned.

    E-mail tips to:

    Tuesday, June 10, 2008

    OK, now it makes sense!

    Here at Random Pixels we spare no effort in bringing you news not just from our own backyard in South Florida, but we also span the globe for news that matters!

    We search night and day for the important stories. Fluff, trivia and superficiality might have a place elsewhere on the Internet but you'll find none of that at Random Pixels.

    So tonight as we were perusing the New York Times website we happened upon a seemingly innocuous item from France. It appeared to document the abrupt replacement of an older male French TV anchor named Patrick Poivre d'Arvor by a younger one named Laurence Ferrari on France's most-watched evening news program

    Here's the entire item:
    "France’s best-known newscaster, whose name became a brand, is being pushed out after decades on the air because of declining ratings, the French news media reported. The newsman, Patrick Poivre d’Arvor, 60, known as PPDA, has been the anchor of the main news program at 8 p.m. on TF1, the country’s largest private broadcaster, since 1987, after years of similar work on the public broadcast station France 2. He will be replaced by Laurence Ferrari, 41, who is both glamorous and popular.
    But it was that last line of the short dispatch that caused our journalistic instincts to kick in to high gear: "He will be replaced by Laurence Ferrari, 41, who is both glamorous and popular."

    It seemed to us like a strange way to characterize the younger anchor. Oddly, there was no mention of Laurence's journalism credentials.

    We dug deeper and did a Google image search.

    And suddenly it all became crystal clear!That's Patrick on the left and Laurence on the right. Got it?

    This all might seem silly to you but today in France this was major front page news.

    Makes sense to us!

    Bon soir, Patrick!

    Monday, June 09, 2008

    He's coming.....Wednesday!

    The word leaking out from inside One Herald Plaza is that an executive from McClatchy will be in town on Wednesday.

    I have no idea what he's going to say but whatever it is it probably won't be well received by an already demoralized staff.

    Sources also tell me that more buyoffs are in the works but they're not ruling out layoffs either.

    The number that keeps coming up is "15," as in a 15% overall cut of the workforce at the Herald. But one source tells me there isn't anyone left now to produce a decent paper.

    Stay tuned.

    Sunday, June 08, 2008

    Yeah, but can it stop SPAM?

    An American military supercomputer, assembled from components originally designed for video game machines, has reached a long-sought-after computing milestone by processing more than 1.026 quadrillion calculations per second.

    To put the performance of the machine in perspective, Thomas P. D’Agostino, the administrator of the National Nuclear Security Administration, said that if all six billion people on earth used hand calculators and performed calculations 24 hours a day and seven days a week, it would take them 46 years to do what the Roadrunner can in one day.

    Saturday, June 07, 2008

    Anxiety filled weekend

    UPDATED Sunday morning
    This weekend, while tens of thousands of South Floridians are out enjoying the beautiful weather, there’s a group of people who are slowly coming to grips with the depressing reality that by this time next week they might be unemployed.

    Rumors of impending layoffs at the Miami Herald have been circulating for weeks producing much the same effect on the psyche of those who work there as an approaching category 5 storm in the Caribbean; anxiety, fear, apprehension and in some cases panic.

    Those in the know say that the word of firings could come as early as the first part of the week.

    Chuck Strouse of Miami New Times wrote yesterday that McClatchy wants a reduction of 10 to 15% of the Herald’s workforce. How many newsroom employees will be affected remains to be seen.

    My sources tell me that McClatchy is seeking a 10 to 15% reduction at all of their papers.

    As I’ve written before, this is the stark reality for the foreseeable future of newspapers.

    Shrinking revenues and declining circulation bases are just two of the reasons for newspapers’ woes.

    How long will the Herald, and newspapers in general, be able to survive under these conditions? Experts disagree.

    Microsoft’s Steve Ballmer gives all print media 10 years.

    Russ Stanton, editor of the LA Times is more optimistic and says the print edition of his paper will be around for another 35 years.

    As far as the Herald’s concerned, I’m no expert, but with their circulation declining in the range of 10% every six months, I’d be very surprised if the print edition will still be viable in five years.

    Other papers are losing circulation but not nearly as drastic as those numbers. Yet.

    Who’s to blame for the predicament that newspapers are in?

    The Internet is one reason. It’s just quicker and more practical to get news online these days.

    And news consumers' needs and tastes have changed. However, except for updated graphics and snappier layouts, the content newspapers offer today is essentially the same as it was almost 45 years ago when this copy of the Herald was printed.
    The Internet is also partly responsible for newspapers’ loss of advertising revenue.

    Want to place a classified ad in the paper? It’ll cost you. Want to place an ad on a site like Craigslist? No problem and no charge!

    Veteran Miami journalist Michael Putney tried to wrap his brain around the problem this week in his Herald column.

    Michael’s main point was that we can’t afford to lose newspapers; we need newspapers to keep an eye on politicians and report on government waste and misdeeds.

    (This morning's report on waste and mismangement within Miami-Dade's Transit System is an example of what happens when the Herald gets it right.)

    He also pointed out that newspapers have shot themselves in the foot by giving away content online which he says is “one reason why Herald and Sun-Sentinel circulation are down. Why pay for something you can get free?”

    Excellent points to be sure, but he didn’t address why the Herald in particular is losing subscribers in numbers far higher than other newspapers. I have my own thoughts on this that I’ll share at another time.

    In an e-mail to me Michael expanded a bit on some of his points:

    “Hey [Bill]- Yes, you're right that newspapers have largely done themselves in by failing to understand the zeitgeist of the digital revolution. They made so much money for so long doing it the same way they just couldn't shake themselves out of their old habits. Now, the marketplace and the Internet have done it for them. Okay, dawg, that's it. MP"

    So perhaps with the news that’s sure to come next week, many at the Herald will finally begin to "shake themselves out of their old habits."

    But for others, sadly, it’s going to be too late.

    Thursday, June 05, 2008

    Happy snaps!

    Just a few pics that I found surfing the web or that made their way to my inbox and made me smile.

    Dustin Hoffman gets cozy with the paparazzi in Cannes during a photo op. The winner here is the guy who didn't get in the picture but instead opted to take the picture! All those other guys? They're not doing their job!

    Found this impressive picture on Sunday, May 18, 2008, Nearly 75,000 spectators jam into Waterfront Park to see Barack Obama speak at a campaign rally in Portland, Oregon.

    A friend sent this to me with the following note: This is called "stealing off the grid." It's in India and it's also where you call for tech support when you have a computer problem.

    Wednesday, June 04, 2008

    Hard times

    "The hardest ones are the old ladies."

    Miami-Dade police officer who carries out evictions in the county as quoted in a story in today's NY Times.


    Miami Herald story comment of the day

    If you read the Miami Herald online you know that there's one perk you don't get in the print edition. That's the comment section.

    Many times the comments left by readers are more informative and certainly more entertaining than the actual story.

    A story this morning about a robbery at dollar store in NW Miami contained a description of the perp. Here's a screen capture of the comment that starts out by quoting that description.
    Click to enlarge

    Tuesday, June 03, 2008

    A page has been turned...

    It's the 'feel good' video of the day!

    Andy Warhol once said "In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes." I wonder if he meant dogs too. Meet "Gin," the most talented dog in the world!

    "Saved the guys in the Seventh Precinct."

    "Just when I was about to change that and wreck my life, the cops came and saved me!"

    Interesting how two different newspapers played the story.

    Whatever your feelings are however, this is another argument for keeping kids out of show business! Just sayin'.

    What TV anchors do between the 6 and the 11

    If you're Philadelphia anchor Larry Mendte you use that time to hack into your hot co-anchor's Yahoo e-mail account and read her mail, over and over and over and over again!

    Mendte opened former colleague Alycia Lane's private e-mail account hundreds of times over many months, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported yesterday, and the FBI is investigating whether he passed on gossip about Lane to the media.

    I've always said that TV news is news produced by idiots for idiots. I guess this episode just reinforces that notion.

    (If you need proof of that just check out some of Larry's award-winning journalism in this clip.)

    Anyway, you may remember Alycia as the "smokin'-hot" anchor on NBC6 a few years back. (As a matter of fact she's so hot I'm posting two pictures of her.)

    She left Miami to anchor in Philly and got her pretty-little-self caught up in a couple of embarrassing episodes that TV types tend to get caught up in. (Remember Bill Kamal and Rick Sanchez?)

    First Alycia sent pics of herself in a bikini to a sports nerd/anchor (don't all they fit that description?) at ESPN who just happened to be married. For some reason...even in this Internet age when stuff like this usually makes it online in nano-seconds...those pictures never surfaced, to the dismay of many.

    And then late last year she experienced some sort of TV anchorwoman hyper-meltdown in NYC and punched an undercover female cop but only after calling her a "dyke bitch."

    That incident got her fired in January of this year.

    I have no idea if anyone cares about this but it does give me an excuse to post two great pictures of Alycia.

    Monday, June 02, 2008

    Cue the "Fat Lady"

    Looks like the end for Hillary if you believe some very knowledgeable people.

    The LA Times is reporting that there are signs that Hillary is getting ready to pull the plug

    Sunday, June 01, 2008

    Too lazy to change the channel?

    The LA Times reported Saturday that Telemundo has canceled the network's early morning show "Cada Dia" which was modeled after NBC's "Today Show."

    From the story:
    NBC Universal found that "Cada Dia," launched in October 2005, could not compete with Univision's morning show, "Despierta America." The powerhouse Univision program averaged 801,000 viewers, compared with 138,000 for "Cada Dia."

    The story quotes Miami media consultant Julio Rumbaut who says one of the reasons Telemundo failed to attract an audience for "Cada Dia" was that "viewers' TV sets were still set on Univision from the evening before, when they watched its popular telenovelas."

    Now there's a prime demographic: 800,000 viewers who are too lazy to change the channel!

    By the way, even though the show was produced at Telemundo's Hialeah studios, I could find no mention of this in The Herald. I guess they'll get around to reporting it in a few days.