Monday, September 29, 2008

Another reason why Sarah Palin is dangerous

Consider this scenario.

Sometime this week it will be revealed in the press that Barack Obama wrote a paper in college. In the paper he said that he strongly believed that in some parts of this country there are colonies of elves living a mile below the surface of the earth. And when questioned about it Obama says he still believes that to be true.

What do you think the reaction would be, especially from the right? You guessed it. The election would be over and next Jan. 20th we'd be watching John McCain and Sarah Palin being sworn in.

Of course Obama never wrote such a paper and I'm pretty sure he doesn't believe in elves or fairies or hobgoblins. Or that the earth is flat.

Now consider this. Sarah Palin once told a Wasilla resident that "men and dinosaurs coexisted on an Earth created 6,000 years ago."

"When he asked her about prehistoric fossils and tracks dating back millions of years, Palin said 'she had seen pictures of human footprints inside the tracks.'"

That's not a scenario however. It's true as the LA Times reported this morning.

More reason than ever as far as I'm concerned to make sure that the McCain Palin ticket doesn't get elected.

Couple that with the revelation earlier this month that Palin actually had a screwball pastor decalare her to be "witchcraft free."

And that she believes she has foreign policy experience because of Alaska's close proximity to Russia.

A friend of mine who supports McCain keeps telling me that Palin isn't running for president. He can't grasp the fact that John McCain shows signs that he may be slowly unraveling and probably won't serve a complete four years if elected.

And that leaves us with Palin in the White House.

And the prospect of that is scarier than any Jurassic Park movie.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Quote of the Week

"You needed the Jaws of Life to pry a coherent sentence out." -an anonymous Republican talking about Sarah Palin's interview with Katie Couric.

From a New York Daily News story

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Friday, September 26, 2008

Joan Fleischman reportedly leaving Herald

The Herald's Gossip Maven Extraordinaire, Joan Fleischman, is reportedly taking a voluntary buyout from the Herald according to Broward New Times' Bob Norman.

I'll have more on this later. Getting ready to watch the debate!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Sarah Palin's pastor problem

As if the prospect of a presidency under Sarah Palin wasn't scary enough, now comes word that Palin has been declared "witchcraft free" by Kenyan pastor Thomas Muthee "whose prayer Sarah Palin says helped her to become governor of Alaska [and who] founded his ministry with a witchhunt against a Kenyan woman who he accused of causing car accidents through demonic spells," according to this report in the Times of London.

The Times also reports that after intense prayer by Muthee and his followers in a Kenyan town, the spirit of witchcraft was broken and "the crime rate dropped to almost zero and there was 'explosive church growth' while almost every bar in the town closed down."

As Olbermann says, this guy "makes [Rev.] Jeremiah Wright look like Father Flanagan from Boystown".

Now sit back and ponder an America with Sarah Palin in the White House. Scary indeed.

The Miami Herald ... still struggling with the English language

UPDATED at 12:43pm. I checked the page with the misspelling a little after noon to see if a correction had been made. The misspelled word was still there.

Nevertheless, I sent Herald managing editor Ander Gyllenhaal a note congratulating him on the new website. I also suggested they keep the Breaking News in one place on the page and that they fix the misspelling problems. His reply: "We'll work on those."

Five minutes later the misspelling was corrected.


The Herald debuted their spiffy new re-designed website today.

Perhaps they should have sprung for the extra $19.95 and gotten the version with spellcheck.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Update on Herald buyouts and job cuts

According to Herald managing editor Anders Gyllenhaal's memo last Tuesday, about 200 Herald editorial staffers were offered voluntary buyouts in an effort to pare 23 newsroom positions.

The way it's been explained to me, if enough of those 200 step forward and take the buyout, then anyone who didn't accept or anyone who wasn't eligible, won't lose their jobs. However, if the goal of 23 isn't reached then some people - probably those with the least seniority - will be let go.

The deadline to decide on the voluntary offer was today. The company will make a decision on accepting them by this Friday.

A newsroom staffer who attended one of the departmental meetings last Wednesday when options were discussed said people in his department were "in shock." After the presentation his department head asked if anyone had any questions. He was greeted by complete silence according to my source.

Some staffers already know that the axe is about to fall and are making plans to leave.

One bit of information that hasn't been reported is that Gyllenhaal was heard to say that 10 more staff cuts may be necessary in January.

But before then another piece of potentially bad news is looming on the horizon for the Herald. In the next month or so circulation numbers for U.S. newspapers will be released. Figures for the last reporting period ending in March 2008 showed the Herald's "daily circulation falling 11.7 percent to 240,233 copies, down from 272,192 copies at the end of March 2007." Barring a miracle the Herald is probably looking at a similar dismal decline in readership.

Also the very important holiday advertising season is approaching fast for newspaper ad people. Ad execs are hoping that they can make up for a very bad year between now and Christmas in spite of the economy.

The next few months are very important for everyone at the Herald and newspapers everywhere.

Where's Rad Berky?

Longtime Miami TV news watchers were saddened to learn earlier this year that Channel 10's Rad Berky was hanging up his trench coat and mike after 18 years at the station. His last day on the air was Feb. 29.

At the time he told the Herald that he wanted to move somewhere with a mild climate and "get back into TV."

Random Pixels has tracked Rad down. He's working at WCNC in Charlotte, NC. One Miami TV veteran said after watching this video that he was the "same old solid Rad." I agree.

I reached him by phone at about 3:30 this afternoon. He told me that "we have a 4pm newscast here," before hanging up.

Oh, the temperature in Charlotte today is 73 degrees with humidity of 41%. That's definitely mild!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Editors, editors? We don't need no stinking editors!

...from the Herald's website at about 12:25pm today, a butchered sentence that makes no sense with a misspelling thrown in for good measure!

Apparently the big shots at the Herald have figured out a few more ways to cut costs...looks like they've fired all the editors and proofreaders!

This is what you get when only one person - who makes about 8 bucks an hour - is responsible for what goes on the website...or so it seems!

How to fix it? Just chop off the misspelling and cross your fingers and hope that no one noticed it!

Now it makes even less sense! Way to go guys!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Memo to Harpal S. Kapoor, Director Miami-Dade Transit

To: Harpal S. Kapoor
Director, Miami-Dade Transit

I noted with interest that starting Oct. 1, the fare for riding either Metrobus or Metrorail will rise 33%, from $1.50 to $2.00 per trip.

It's "only the second Miami-Dade Transit fare increase in 18 years" according to the Herald so I guess I can live with it since I don't use the buses or Metrorail that often.

But since I live on South Beach, I do use the South Beach Local quite a bit.

I have one small request if I may.

According to the Herald, the fare hikes are expected to bring in an additional annual revenue of $20 to $22 million annually. May I suggest that you use a fraction of that money to retrain your drivers.

Specifically you might want to refresh them with the rules that are posted on every bus and train in the county. You know, the ones that prohibit smoking , drinking or eating on buses.

And you might want to start with the South Beach Local drivers since just this last week I saw no fewer than three drivers at different times eating while driving.

For instance on Wednesday, Sept. 17 at about 11:30am I boarded the South Beach Local (Bus #06304) on Washington Ave. and the first thing I saw was the driver stuffing his face with a large sub sandwich.

This is particularly ironic because the Local drivers, as you know, get a 5 to 10 minute break at the end of every trip at the Publix at West Ave and 20th Street. They have plenty of time to feed their face when they are on those breaks.

A side benefit of having drivers abide by the no-eating rule would be to cut down on the scores of cockroaches that now ride those buses for free!

Also, any chance you can get those drivers to start wearing name badges? It might work to make the drivers a little more courteous which is not an adjective I would use to describe a lot of your drivers.

And while I have your attention, any chance you can have them wash some of those buses a couple of times a week?

Thanks for your attention.

Linemen and lawn chairs

I've been checking the website of the Houston Chronicle almost daily since Ike hit Texas just one short week ago as a category 2 storm. One short week. But I'm sure if you talk to anybody in the affected areas of Texas they'll tell you that this past week seems like an eternity.

I've only been to Texas once and that was Dallas. I've never been to Houston and I probably couldn't recite five facts about the town even if my life depended on it.

But the reason I've been going to the Chronicle website is because I love good journalism. I've always been in awe of some of the quality journalism that's produced by newspapers in this country when they turn everybody loose on a mammoth story that's almost too big to comprehend.

The Herald did it after Andrew and won a Pulitzer for their coverage. Now it's the Chronicle's turn.

Ike and its aftermath has pushed everything else off the front page of the Chronicle.

They've been doing an amazing job of keeping their readers up to date on power restoration, the return of basic services such as trash removal. They're telling people how to get along without power, where to find water and ice and how to get help removing fallen trees.

But one of the best and most readable parts of the Chron's website are the blogs.

One in particular, Days of Ike, is a collection of posts that are entertaining and poignant vignettes of people coping with the aftermath.

Some of the posts on the blog are no more than five or six paragraphs but are amusing nonetheless.

Two days ago Claudia Feldman wrote a short appreciation of power company linemen who showed up in her neighborhood.
"They have an audience now. Folks have pulled out their lawn furniture to watch the process unfold (what else are they going to watch?). Even a white dog with black patches has come to see the return of lights to this neighborhood.

"Is it too much to say you can feel the electricity in the air?"
Chron staffer Bobby Hankinson has been hitting the washaterias - that's what they call laundromats in Houston - and mining a treasure trove of nifty little stories.
"The Downtown Washateria on Tuam feels like something out of a timewarp. The machines are that 1970s orange and the lights are just above dim. The dusty metal fans sitting on top of rows of dryers don't help the aesthetic, but they certainly help the temperature.

"Melinda Cepeda, 17, is handling the days following Ike pretty well. The Klein Forest High School senior has had the week off from school and has spent it hanging out with friends and now overseeing her five machines full of sudsy clothing."
Good journalism is just telling good stories...and the Chron has been doing a lot of that in the past seven days.

It's a sure bet they'll be a Pulitzer finalist next year for their excellent Ike coverage.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Stenographers and journalists; there's a difference

What's the worst thing you can call a journalist?

A "stenographer."

We all know what stenographers do: they transcribe, or type, material which is dictated to them.

But the derogatory form a "stenographer" gets used in official Washington quite a bit. In this case a "stenographer" is a journalist who goes to press conferences and writes down whatever is said-usually by a government spokesperson-and then writes their story without a whole lot of follow-up or checking.

But "stenography" doesn't always happen in Washington.
We had some blatant "stenography" occur right here in Miami over the weekend.

The Herald ran a short item about the theft of a purse from the wife of Miami police chief John Timoney.

The item appears to be a rewrite of a police department press release. Here's the item in its entirety:

Noreen Timoney, wife of Miami Police Chief John Timoney, had her purse stolen from her car at a Miami gas station last Sunday morning.

It happened at 10:30 a.m. at the Sunoco gas station at 54th Street and Miami Avenue, said Delrish Moss, a spokesman for the Miami Police Department.

He said Timoney had just finished pumping gas in her car.

When she went inside the station to pay, someone opened her car door and snatched her bag.

Inside her purse were cash and other objects, Moss said.

She was not harmed in the incident.
Some cynics, myself included, immediately started wondering how much effort police would put into finding the thieves who took Noreen Timoney's purse. The Herald sure didn't provide any answers beyond the rewrite of the PD's press release.

I started thinking: Did Timoney order all-out manhunts, roadblocks, helicopters over the crime scene and perhaps a call-out or two of the SWAT team?

I channeled that cynicism into the form of a spoof of a Miami Herald front page that speculated on the "what ifs."

It looks like my fantasy front page wasn't too far off the mark. As a matter of fact I was downright clairvoyant!

Yesterday CBS4's Jim Defede proved once again that he's not just another pretty face with a poofy hair-do on Miami's TV journalism landscape.

Defede eschewed "stenography" and committed some old-fashioned eye-opening journalism that we don't see a whole lot of these days. He used the press release as a starting point to focus on the real story.

Defede did a little digging and discovered that in fact the Miami police did handle the theft of Noreen Timoney's purse a whole lot differently than the similar theft of another woman's purse at a Biscayne Blvd. filling station 24 hours earlier. The woman, Majorie Sheppard, had her purse stolen and couldn't even get police to take her seriously. See for yourself. Make sure you watch the video report that shows a platoon of Miami police showing up at the gas station where Timoney's purse was stolen!

But here's the kicker...Defede learned of the theft of Sheppard's purse because it was mentioned in the the Miami police press release. So Jim wasn't working with any info that the Herald didn't have. However, the Herald chose to practice stenography, Defede chose journalism.

Defede's been doing some kick-ass work lately. He broke the story exclusively last week of the Miami Dade School Board buying out Rudy Crew's contract.

Thanks Jim, for showing us that journalism is still alive in Miami.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Sinatra...late night


Taking a bite out of crime...Miami media style

Alex Romero is a 34 yr.-old Miami cab driver.

Early Wednesday, just after midnight as he was trying to eke out a living on Miami's mean streets he picked up a couple of young men on Biscayne Blvd. They held a stun gun to his neck and made him drive to a Little Havana neighborhood where they attempted to rob him.

Several Miami media outlets have reported the story:

Here's the Herald version.

CBS 4 has a version here.

Channel 7's story is here.

And finally here's NBC 6's coverage.

If you read all of the stories you'll notice that they all carry this sentence: "Anyone with information is asked to call the City of Miami Police or Crime Stoppers at 305-471-TIPS.

So far, so good.

However, if the police ever catch the punks who terrorized Romero, it won't be because of any help provided by Miami's media....and especially not the Herald.

I was pretty sure if a cabbie transported two thugs in his cab over that distance he probably got a good look at them.

Just to make sure I called Miami Police this afternoon and had them e-mail me the press release and police crime report on the incident. Sure enough there was the cabbie's description of the men...including the fact that they were "white Latin males."

See for yourself.
Police report, page 1.

Police report, page 2. (two perps' descriptions highlighted)

Police press release with all perps' descriptions.

In many cases crime victims are so shaken that they are unable to provide descriptions that include anything besides the age and race of the perp, i.e.: "black male in his 20's." A vague description like that serves no purpose.

But in this case the cabbie was able to give height, weight, age, clothing description and race of the criminals.

But all of the media reports -- except for NBC6's -- had been sanitized and any mention of the perps' race or ethnicity was missing. The Herald's story carried all of the descriptive info on the perps contained in the press release, except for their race and ethnicity.

The descriptions given on the original police report and the press release differ slightly. A public information officer explained that the information contained in the police report is raw data given at the time of the crime and the info on the press release is the result of more detailed interviews with the victims.

All of Miami media outlets routinely include Crimestoppers information in stories of this kind, usually at the request of the police.

But all of them also routinely eliminate any mention of the perpetrator's ethnicity which makes no sense.

What's the point of giving a partial description and a number for Crimestoppers? It's just a waste of space.

As a journalist, I've ridden with police on many occasions and I've listened to thousands of hours of police radio traffic that included descriptions of subjects wanted for various offenses. The race of a subject -- when available -- is always mentioned. It makes no sense not to.

And who's the main offender here? The Herald, of course.
Why? Because they don't want to be seen as biased. When it comes to crime, the Herald is color blind. The oh-so politically correct editors at the Herald believe that reporting a criminal's race is just the sort of thing that reinforces racial stereotypes.

Herald insiders tell me that sometimes an offender's race might get included in an Internet story but that it almost never makes it into the printed version of the paper.

Of course the Herald has no such qualms when it comes
to distributing a DVD that some see as stereotyping a religion that has 1 billion followers!

McPalin Fever...Catch it!!

...another pit bull in lipstick for the McCain Palin ticket!
Gloria Lusk of Valrico, Fla. waited patiently for Senator John McCain at the Tampa Convention Center in Tampa, Fla. on Tuesday. -photo by Craig Litten/AP

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

More cuts at The Herald

Exactly three months after announcing a 17% reduction of The Miami Herald's workforce, managing editor Anders Gyllenhaal dropped another bombshell on beleaguered Herald staffers Tuesday and announced more cuts to the already decimated newsroom staff.

In an internal memo obtained exclusively by Random Pixels, Gyllenhaal writes that the newsroom will lose 23 editorial staffers; part of a total of another 119 positions that will be cut from the Herald's workforce.

In other news Tuesday parent company McClatchy ordered "an additional cost restructuring to reduce its total workforce by about 10%, or approximately 1,150 full-time equivalent employee positions (FTE's) as the company manages through today's difficult advertising downturn."

  • Gyllenhaal's memo to Herald newsroom staff:

    This is to follow up the message from David Landsberg on the company-wide staff reductions just announced and to outline how the next two days will go in our department. In the newsroom, the reductions will mean the departure of 23 colleagues from positions spread across all desks and disciplines.

    We will do our best to work our way through this by explaining the plans clearly and answering any questions as quickly and completely as possible.

    We'll hold staff meetings today at 5:45 p.m. in the sixth-floor training room and the Pines office, and tomorrow at 11 a.m. in the training room. Anyone directly affected, including those offered voluntary buyouts, will be contacted with information about group and individual meetings.

    The plan includes several steps. The first will be voluntary buyouts offered to about 200 members of the newsroom staff, including some not eligible for buyouts in the past. Staff members will have until next Wednesday, the 24th, to decide on the voluntary offer, which includes the same elements as the offer in June. The company's decision on accepting them will be made by Friday, the 26th.

    We will then move to a second phase, reducing additional positions needed to reach the newsroom's share. Plans calls for this to include editors, reporters, photographers, designers, clerks and copy editors. As we all know, this is a time of high anxiety and uncertainty in our profession and the coming weeks will be emotionally wrenching for everyone. But The Herald has enormous strengths, which has been made clear as we've dealt with the first phases of this contraction. The newsroom has continued pushing ahead on initiatives at the same time as doing exemplary work stories large and small. There is no simple way to work through what's ahead of us. The best response is to try to explain the plans each step of the way and provide as much information as possible.

    Please make it a point to get to one of the staff meetings today or tomorrow. If you have questions, or are unable to attend the meeting, talk with your supervisor, with other editors, with me, or with Ali Hernandez, who is working with the newsroom on this.Here is the schedule for the staff meetings as well as the smaller group sessions today and tomorrow.

    General Staff Meetings | Time | Place | Leader

    Newsroom Staff Meeting Tues., 5:45 p.m. 6th Floor Anders

    Broward Newsroom Tues., 5:45 p.m. Pines Dave/Pat

    Newsroom Staff Meeting Wed., 11 a.m. 6th Floor Anders

    Voluntary Buyout Discussions

    Reporters/cols in Broward 6:30 p.m. Pines Pat/Dave

    Copy editors 6:30 p.m. 6th Floor Conf Eddie/Jeff

    Multimedia producers 6:30 p.m. Miller conf rm Rick/Shelley

    Design supervisors 7 p.m. Eddie's office Eddie

    All reporters/columnists 10 a.m. 6th floor conf Jay/Manny/Anders

    Photo editors 11 a.m. Knight Conf Room Luis/Rick

    Features rept, and columnists noon . 6th Floor conf room Mindy/Anders

    Business reporters 1 p.m. 6th floor conf Lisa/Manny

    Photographers 2/3 1 p.m. Photo Luis/Rick (Anders)

    News/Features/World editors 1:30 pm Miller conf rm Manny/John/Mindy

    Sports reporters 2 p.m. 6th Floor conf room Jorge/Dave

    Wireroom 4:30 a.m. Dave Wilson's office Dave

    Conference call 5 pm Wednesday Anders (for bureau staffers or anyone unable to attend meetings)
    The additional cuts today at One Herald Plaza surprised almost no one.

    Staffers were expecting this announcement for weeks as other papers in the McClatchy chain began to announce cuts above and beyond the across the board cuts ordered by McClatchy in June.

    "We've been working under a dark cloud," one tired staffer told me before today's announcement. "I don't know who else there is to cut; there aren't enough people to put out the paper now."
  • Friday, September 12, 2008

    Today's Miami Herald

    Is this a great town or what?? In a perfect world Saturday's Miami Herald would look like this!
    Click image to enlarge

    Carvalho Modifies Story On Emails by Jim Defede / CBS4

    Police chief's wife has purse stolen Miami Herald

    Are we scared yet?

    Front pages of three Texas newspapers today.

    Thursday, September 11, 2008

    THIS JUST IN!!! New York Times finally covers Haitian tragedy!

    In case you missed today's New York Times, I'm here to report that they finally figured out there's a news story that needs to be covered in Haiti! And they put it on the front page! Three days after the Miami Herald's exclusive coverage of the tragedy on Monday.

    The Times may have difficulty finding Haiti but they are covering Fashion Week just fine thank you very much!

    Wednesday, September 10, 2008

    Who's in charge at The Herald?

    A prime example on the Herald's website today of the sloppy journalism that can result when a newspaper rushes a story into print on the Internet without editing.

    Journalists normally write stories using the "inverted pyramid" style of journalism which places the most important information at the top of the story.

    The Miami Herald's Adam Beasley threw the rule book out the window today in his haste to get his story online.

    Adam's lede paragraphs:
    "A horrific motorcycle wreck in Lauderhill on Wednesday left an entire block of Broward Boulevard littered with debris and killed the rider, according to authorities.

    "Police said the driver was Joseph Thomas Jr., 29, of Lauderhill.

    "Atop a black Suzuki he purchased Tuesday, Thomas slammed into a curb Wednesday morning, then was tossed into a tree. The bike disintegrated."
    An alert reader might infer from the first paragraph that the fact the accident left Broward Boulevard "littered with debris" was more important than the rider dying.

    And a more experienced writer might have included in the lede the fact that the bike was just purchased yesterday rather than saving it for the third graph. A touch of irony always elevates a mediocre story to something a bit more compelling and readable. And young Adam waits until the fourth graf to tell us the rider wasn't wearing a helmet.

    Whoever wrote the headline also shares some of the blame: "Motorcyclist tossed into tree in Lauderhill" Is that the best you guys can do?

    Note to Herald: It's probably too late to get those furloughed copy editors back, but now might as good a time as any to have Edna Buchanan drop by the newsroom and share some tips with the cub reporters on how to craft compelling ledes.

    She has a Pulitzer you know!

    Contempt of court

    From Miami Herald story on Judge Jeri Beth Cohen's ruling that a new ballpark funded primarily through tax dollars serves the public good:
    "[Judge] Cohen noted the county didn't do an economic impact study for the Little Havana area, said the site has no link to downtown, noted the team did not have to make its financials public even though almost $400 million in public money would be spent, and agreed with Braman that clear proof does not exist that a new stadium would stimulate the neighborhood."
    "One midday game last week drew fewer than 600 fans in their seats for the first pitch."
    Also from the Herald today:
    "Rudy Crew gets $368,000 to leave Miami-Dade schools."
    OK, I'm a little slow so let's see if I have this right; we get to pay $368,000 to get rid of a school superintendent we don't want and we get to pay $400 million to build a stadium we don't want and no one will go to.

    Is this a great town or what?

    Monday, September 08, 2008


    Readers of The Miami Herald got a sobering dose of reality Monday morning as they unfolded the paper and looked at page one.

    It was hard to miss. Right there, above the fold, a four column photograph by Herald photojournalist Patrick Farrell; as gripping and shocking as anything I've ever seen in the Herald in five decades.

    Patrick is in Haiti with with Herald staff writer Jacqueline Charles covering the aftermath of Hurricane Ike, the fourth storm to ravage Haiti this year. The lede of Charles's dispatch is powerful and heart wrenching:

    "CABARET, Haiti -- Frantz Samedi had searched for his 5-year-old for two hours, trudging through heaps of storm debris and muddy water, calling her name, ``Tamasha, Tamasha!''

    When he finally found her, she seemed to be peacefully asleep, her body resting on the wet, mud-laden concrete slab next to 11 other children, ages 1 to 8.

    Farrell's searing image of the grieving father clutching the lifeless body of his 5-year-old daughter punctuates Charles's words. No parent can look at the photograph without feeling a connection.

    Farrell, a Herald photographer for 21 years, is also a father. He called his wife Jodi from Haiti to tell her that their two daughters weren't far from his mind as he photographed the hellish scenes of death. She shares her observations here.

    In a country where so many have so little - more than half of Haitians live on less than $1 a day - the magnitude of Frantz Samedi's loss is incomprehensible.

    As far as I can tell, the Herald is one of the few major media outlets to have a team in Haiti.

    The Washington Post printed wire service copy in Monday's editions, combining information about destruction in both Cuba and Haiti. The New York Times had a staff report on page A6 with a Miami dateline.

    I emailed Farrell tonight and asked him if he had any thoughts on what he'd seen and the images he made. He responded:

    "I don't know what to say...There are [other] images that the Herald felt (with good reason) were probably too shocking for the paper (but are jarring and the types of images that I believe make people react.) I've always felt that everywhere you turn in Haiti there's a photograph that MUST be seen, and this latest tragedy just reinforces that...the people here do not deserve this, they suffer terribly just dealing with everyday life."

    South Florida residents and Herald readers will no doubt find ways to help this ravaged nation as they have in the past.

    But how long will it be before they wipe the memory of Pat Farrell's images and Jacqueline Charles's words from their consciouness?

    I posed that question to freelance photographer Brian Smith, a former Herald staff photographer who made some 13 trips to Haiti over a period of six years beginning with the final days of the Duvalier government. Smith writes:

    "It's hard to believe that a country with the abject poverty of Haiti can exist in this hemisphere, just a two hour flight from Miami. It's sad to see a country where eight million people with so little - have the little they do have taken away from them. It's even sadder to realize that the attention span of the American public rarely lasts longer than the [TV] sound bites and then the poorest country in our hemisphere is once again forgotten."

    Friday, September 05, 2008

    Why Republicans hate the elite media -- two words: Secret Handshake

    The secret Eastern Elite Media handshake.
    The Republicans have wrapped up their four day extravaganza in Minneapolis and are now headed home.

    Their agenda was pretty simple.

    They spent Day One pretending that they care about victims of natural disasters.

    And they spent the next three days going out of their way to avoid mentioning George W. Bush.

    Some of that time was consumed bashing the Eastern Elite Media who dared question John McCain's pick of a candidate for vice president who he had only met once, who had no credentials and even less experience.

    Of course they forgot that most Americans are smart enough to see through their charade and who know that without the media we wouldn't have learned that Sarah Palin, as mayor of her town, tried to have books banned from the town library and then fired the librarian. Courted a right-wing fringe group that has views slightly to the right of Atilla the Hun. And is now being investigated for firing the head of the Alaska state police who wouldn't cave in to her and fire her ex-brother-in-law who is a state trooper.

    Voters know that when politicians start complaining about the media they're usually trying to hide something or at the very least divert the public's attention from more important issues. We all remember Spiro Agnew.

    All of this ironic because at one time John McCain had a great relationship with the media, even inviting some members of the Eastern Elite Media to his birthday party four years ago where he probably regaled them with tales of his skirt-chasing days when he dated models and strippers.

    But that's all changed because now McCain actually has a shot at the presidency. So it's back to the old ways.

    But the real reason many on the right hate the media is because we're cool.

    Hell, we even have a secret handshake.


    Miami New Times editor Chuck Strouse engaged in a bit of stretch in a blog post Thursday when writing about the new content sharing agreement between the Sun-Sentinel and the Herald.

    Chuck starts off with this line: "The Sun-Sentinel screwed with Miami Herald readers this morning. Or so it seemed."

    His post talked about the Herald's first use of a by-lined Sun-Sentinel story in its pages and then climaxed with Chuck castigating the Herald for dropping the hyphen in the Sun-Sentinel byline.

    My guess is that Chuck was implying that copy editors at the Herald were somehow striking back at their former arch-enemy Sun-Sentinel by **GASP!!** leaving out the hyphen in the paper's name.

    I left a comment that poked fun at Chuck for nit-picking. Chuck didn't approve my comment, and in a bit of self-censorship he deleted the line in his post about the Herald dropping the hyphen.
    He did, however, leave this line in his post: "Was this a twisted joke?"... rendering the original post an incomprehensible mess.

    Readers are, no doubt, now scratching their heads and wondering: "What joke is he talking about?" And he never explains how the Sentinel "screwed with Herald readers..."

    There once was a time when Miami New Times was right on target with some its critiques of the Herald. But this post by Chuck is downright silly...and a little weird.

    I just picked up a copy of New Times today. The paper is now down to 72 pages from an average of 80 pages.

    But it wasn't too long ago that the paper averaged a fat and sassy 132 pages. But that was then and this is now.

    Chuck; you've got your own share of problems over there at the New Times Tower.

    Probably best not to worry about how the Herald has misplaced a few punctuation marks! Just sayin'!

    Separated at birth?

    Former CBS4 anchor and current CBS Morning Show host Maggie Rodriguez bears an uncanny resemblance to Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as seen in this video.

    Maggie's a real sweet person so I hope that all she shares with the guv are her looks and NOT her politics!

    Wednesday, September 03, 2008

    Republicans go tabloid!

    As if it couldn't get any weirder we have this
    news item:

    WASILLA, Alaska (AP) — The boyfriend of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin's unwed, pregnant daughter will join the family of the Republican vice presidential candidate at the GOP convention in St. Paul, Minn.

    Levi Johnston's mother said her 18-year-old son left Alaska on Tuesday morning to join the Palin family at the convention where Sen. John McCain will officially receive the Republican nomination for president.

    As we all know, Republicans are all about "family values."

    Tuesday, September 02, 2008

    Great moments in journalism!

    If you were channel surfing Monday night looking for anything on TV besides the Republican convention, then you missed what will arguably go down in history as one of the great moments in television journalism.

    CNN anchor Campbell Brown had McCain mouthpiece Tucker Bounds on her show. It was must-see TV.

    If you've ever wondered what animal some people may have been in a previous life, Bounds gave ample proof that he was probably a weasel....and still is.

    Brown wanted to question Bounds on McCain's decision to pick Alaska governor Sarah Palin as his running mate and ask a just few questions about her experience as commander of the Alaska National Guard.

    In other words she wanted to ask more questions about Governor Palin's background and experience than McCain's campaign apparently did when vetting her.

    Brown first asked Bounds why he thought Gov. Palin was ready to be commander in chief.

    Bounds was having none of that and proceeded to evade just about every question Brown asked.

    Brown kept pressing for over 7 minutes and in the process beat up on Tucker-the-Candy-Ass-Bee-Yotch like he was a red-headed stepchild.

    Bounds just couldn't bring himself to answer why McCain thought Palin was ready to be commander in chief or even recount one command decision she's made as Commander of the Alaska National Guard. Apparently they don't know and are still checking on that.

    Brown: ...So I don't have to tell you that there's a feeling out there by some that you're not holding your VP pick to your own standard, the standard that you defined. So explain to us why you think Governor Palin is ready to be commander-in-chief.

    Bounds: Governor Palin has the good fortune of being on the same ticket with John McCain, who, there is no question, is the most experienced and shown proven judgment on the international stage; he understands foreign affairs, he has a familiarity with the players across the globe—

    Brown: Well, we know all that about John McCain, Tucker. I asked you about her, though, because we all know the role of the VP, as John McCain has defined it, is to be able to step into the job of the presidency on day one if something should happen to the president. So I'm asking you about her foreign policy experience.

    Bounds: Yeah, Campbell, certainly there are a number of people who are supporting Barack Obama's candidacy and are feeling like he's experienced enough to take on the Oval Office. Our feeling is that Governor Palin has just as much experience as Barack Obama. She has just as much experience as the presidential candidate of our opponent.

    Brown: But—but you're not answering my questions. Okay, but—but you set a different standard, that was— So does she—?

    Bounds: Pardon me, Campbell?

    Brown: You said—what I'm saying is, that you set a different standard by arguing how important it was with John McCain—and, no one's arguing with you that he has much more experience than Barack Obama—so I'm just trying to get someone from the campaign to explain to me what foreign policy experience she has or what qualifications she has that would allow her to be ready to be commander-in-chief if something should happen to Senator McCain? That's a fair question, isn't it?

    Bounds: Well, Campbell, let me be clear: I don't think there should be any problem explaining her experience. She has executive state-level experience; she's been in public office reforming Washington; she's been in executive office longer, and in a more effective sense, than Barack Obama's been in the United States senate. She's been the commander of the National Guard, of the Alaskan National Guard, that's been deployed overseas—that's foreign policy experience. And I just want to mention that these are—

    Brown: [as Bounds is speaking] So, so—okay, but—okay, okay, Tucker? All right, all right—just, give me, Tucker, sorry, just, if I can interrupt for one second—

    Bounds: Uh-huh.

    Brown: Commander—'cause I've heard you guys say this a lot—

    Bounds: Yeah.

    Brown: Can you just tell me one decision that she made as commander-in-chief of the Alaskan National Guard, just one?

    Bounds: Yeah, she has made…any decision she has made as the commander of the National Guard that's deployed overseas is more of a decision than Barack Obama has been making as he's been running for president for the last two years.

    Brown: Okay, so tell me! Tell me one of the—give me an example of one of those decisions. I'm just curious. Just one decision she made in her capacity as commander-in-chief of the National Guard.

    Bounds: Campbell—Campbell, certainly—Campbell, certainly you don't mean to belittle every experience, every…every judgment that she makes as commander of the National Guard—

    Brown: I…I'm belittling nothing! I just want to know one judgment or one decision! I would love to know what one decision was. I'm not belittling anything, Tucker, I'm really not. I'm just curious.

    Bounds: Mm-hmm. Yeah. As she makes a decision as to how to equip, how to command, the National Guard in Alaska, that is more experience and more of a judgment than Barack Obama's making on the campaign trail. That's my only argument.

    Brown: [as Bounds is speaking] But Tucker, those are the Pentagon's decisions. That's General Petraeus. That's the White House. No governor—

    Bounds: Pardon me?

    Brown: No governor makes decisions about how to equip or deploy the National Guard. That…you know, when they go to Iraq, that's decisions that you well know are made by the Pentagon.

    Bounds: Actually, actually, Campbell, they do. Campbell…Campbell, on a factual basis, they certainly do. In Alaska, if you, if you have any sort of emergency, as things are happening in your state, the National Guard is under the command of the governor. That is more of a command role than Barack Obama has ever had. I would argue that, on our ticket, John McCain and Governor Palin, between the two of them, have far more command experience in the military than either of the candidates on the Democratic side. And I do want to argue that this is about the top of the ticket. Ultimately, when people go into the ballot box and decide between Barack Obama and John McCain, they're going to decide between John McCain's record of reforming Washington and Barack Obama's rhetoric on the campaign trail. Doesn't have a lot of experience, certainly has no military experience, no command military experience, which both of our candidates have. That's an important distinction; I think voters will make the right call in November.

    Brown: All right, Tucker, umm…I'm gonna just give it to you, baby. [laughs] We'll end it there.

    Bounds: I appreciate it.

    McCain's campaign was so pissed at what they thought was the unfair treatment Bounds received at the hands of Brown that they cancelled McCain's scheduled appearance on the Larry King show tonight. There, take that CNN!

    By the way, lest anyone think that Campbell Brown was exhibiting some liberal media, anti-Republican bias, a quick Google search reveals that she's married to a Republican strategist and Fox News analyst!

    So while the McCain campaign may not have vetted Palin properly, the press is showing that they are more than happy to pick up where McCain's people left off, thank you very much.

    This is better than any movie.

    Miami Beach Crime Report

    Miami Beach police chief Carlos Noriega doing his part today to help take a bite out of crime according to a friend at one of the hotels on Collins Ave.

    Noriega was arriving for a function at the Shelborne Hotel at 18th and Collins at just about the same time a hotel security man was chasing a suspected thief from the hotel.

    Noriega watched as one officer tried to collar the guy. The guy got loose and kept running but Noriega, who's a big UM fan, did his best imitation of former UM star Ray Lewis and threw a body block on the perp, knocking him to the ground!

    Score one for the good guys!

    Keeping watch on the canaries in the coal mine ...

    A few recent notes on the steady decline of newspapers:

  • San Diego newspaper staffers are so desperate to take buyouts that they slept in the lobby of their building last night so they could be first in line to apply today.

  • Rumors are swirling that the Tampa Tribune may soon publish a one-section newspaper. Fewer pages for news means fewer ads being sold.

  • The Sacramento Bee and and other McClatchy newspapers quietly announced last week that they are offering even more buyouts to employees just two months after McClatchy ordered a 10% reduction in the workforce at all of the chain's newspapers.

    So far the Herald has not announced any more cuts but a source reports that newsroom staffers are walking on eggshells and waiting for the other shoe to drop.

  • Broward New Times blogger Bob Norman reports that the "Sun-Sentinel, WSFL-TV, and the Orlando Sentinel have taken their collective Internet content -- otherwise known as their future -- out of the hands of journalists and given it to marketing chief Jeff Levine."

    Traditionally newspapers have maintained a wall between the news and business departments. It appears that's no longer the case at the Sun-Sentinel. Distressing.
  • On the mend

    Miami News Net owner Mo Moghari is recovering at home following a scary fall from a ladder at his home five weeks ago.

    Mo, who is 60, (and should know better ;) climbed up a ladder at home to check on some roofing work. On the way down he lost his footing falling some 10 feet and landing on hard concrete. Mo reports that he fractured the L2 and L3 vertebrae. "The doctor told me I'm lucky I wasn't paralyzed," said Mo.

    A week in the hospital was followed by recovery at home, which included 3 weeks in a full body cast. He says he doing better and is no longer in pain.

    Mo, as he is known to his friends, is a behind the scenes legend in Miami TV journalism. Starting out as a cameraman at WTVJ, Mo left in the early 80's to form a small company that covered overnight news in Miami when many TV stations were unstaffed.

    Mo says MNN doesn't shoot overnight news any longer but now concentrates on doing remote live shots for many network TV shows.

    If you watch any of the network morning news shows and see a live shot with a guest from Miami chances are Mo had something to with it.

    Get well soon Mo!

    Monday, September 01, 2008

    Hurricane's coming, let's buy some guns!

    Hurricane shopping list:
  • Bottled water
  • Canned foods
  • Ice
  • Guns
  • Ammo

    From the New Orleans Times-Picayune: "In yet another sign of hardened sensibilities in post-Katrina New Orleans, managers of gun shops and sporting goods stores across the area report a spike in gun and ammunition sales this week."
  • Campaign fashion news

    Friday in Dayton, Ohio

    Sunday in O'Fallon, MO - Photos by AP, AFP and Reuters. Click images to enlarge

    What a difference a few days make.

    Looks like some McCain campaign advisers got to Gov. Sarah Palin.

    She's glammed up a bit since Friday's announcement in Dayton.

    On Sunday at a campaign stop in O'Fallon, MO she let her hair down and was sporting some stiletto pumps. PREDICTION: You won't be seeing her in any pantsuits between now and election day!

    By the way, has anyone seen Cindy?