Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Canine locomotion

So how cool is it to be a dog? If you've done a good job in picking your owner then you pretty much can count on getting chauffeured around most of the time.

Here's a couple of pooches I spotted this afternoon on Ocean Drive.

That's the Clevelander in the back, by the way, which is still closed for renovations. It doesn't look like it's going to re-open anytime soon.

Miami New Times silent on its own future!

IMPORTANT UPDATE @ 9:30pm: I just got off the phone with Miami New Times on-line editor Jose Duran who commented on part of this post. (see below)

In putting this post together I used a quote from a source who told me that New Times used to pay photographers $150 for on-line slide shows but was now paying $30. That information was erroneous.

Jose tells me that a few other papers in the New Times chain do pay $30 to less experienced photographers for slide shows. However that's not the case here in Miami.

Jose says that he pays based on the photographer's experience but rarely pays less than $100 for slide show.

Jose further explains that he has a weekly budget for freelancers and keeps a tight rein on expenses.

Jose also told me that when he took over as on-line editor at New Times earlier this year he re-examined closely what freelancers were being paid. Wanting to get as much bang for his buck as possible he re-adjusted some freelance rates downward. Jose says that he made that decision entirely on his own and not because of any edict from New Times higher ups. Jose believes that his freelance rates are still fair.

So thanks Jose for setting the record straight. It's not my intention here to pass along bad information.


Miami's scrappy and outspoken free-weekly New Times loves to cover controversy and dig up stuff that Miami's mainstream media ignores or just refuses to report.

They're Miami's journalistic equivalent of a turd-in-a-punch-bowl.

But one story they've shied away from is the one that's happening in their own backyard.

It's a story that both the Miami and Broward editions of New Times have avoided. Even Broward New Times press watchdog Bob Norman has been uncharacteristically silent.

As far as I can tell neither paper has printed one word about the deep financial doo-doo that New Times' parent company Village Voice Media finds itself mired in.

But a source tells Random Pixels that Miami New Times is cutting back on freelancer expenses and now only pay shooters $30 for an on-line slide show. "They used to pay $150 and won't use anyone who [now] wants that amount."

Meanwhile New Times' sister paper in New York, the Village Voice, is reportedly "on the balls of its ass financially."
"...expense accounts are essentially a thing of the past. One VV reporter paid out of his own pocket to fly to Ohio and rent a car and a hotel room last week to do a story on the election. Normal after-work events, like a going-away party for an intern at a bar, are being paid out of the editors' own pockets. And, we hear, Voice reporters have been buying their own pens and notebooks because the paper has no extra office supplies."
And just yesterday the Village Voice laid off three more employees "including Nat Hentoff, the prominent columnist who has worked for the paper since 1958, contributing opinionated columns about jazz, civil liberties and politics."

Back in Miami my source predicts that Miami New Times and its Broward sister will merge within six months.

My tipster can't say however, if or when Miami New Times will get around to reporting this story.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Wauwatosa Wisconsin Crime Report

A 70-year-old Wauwatosa man has been arrested for disorderly conduct after he was seen stroking women's hair and arms at AMC Theater in Mayfair Mall.

A woman told a theater manager that an older man sat down in the seat behind her as she was watching a film at about 5 p.m. on Dec. 22 and soon felt him "caressing" her arms.

She thought it was strange he chose to sit there since there were only a few people in the theater and plenty of open seats with better views.

Herald land sale put on hold

UPDATED with link to Herald story.

The McClatchy Company [Miami Herald's parent company] announced today that it has extended the closing date of its agreement to sell 10 acres of land adjacent to The Miami Herald in order to allow the buyer additional time to arrange financing in this difficult credit environment.

The purchase price remains unchanged at $190 million -- $10 million of which McClatchy has already received in the form of a nonrefundable deposit.

With the acquisition of Knight-Ridder, Inc. in 2006, McClatchy inherited an agreement to sell The Miami Herald's 10-acre parking lot with no expiration date on the deal. The contract had subsequently been amended to require closing by Dec. 31, 2008.

Today's totally unnecessary Miami Herald front page story

Formerly "hip" Miamians having fun AND saving money by partying at home!

The Herald reports today on its front page that because of a slowing economy Miami's "hip crowd is bypassing the $15 drinks at the bar in favor of mixing them at home for less money."
"We've been forced to look at different alternatives, but we found we can get creative," said [Manuel] Vacas, 28, who recently found a job doing accounting for a property management company. "It's more personal. It's more intimate. We're probably having more fun this way."
Now there's some earth-shaking news you can use.

The Herald somehow managed to find an accountant who discovered it's cheaper - and "probably more fun" - to buy liquor and mixers and stay at home rather than spend hundreds of dollars for the same drinks at a club!

The only question the Herald's Elaine Walker doesn't answer in her top-notch example of investigative journalism: Are Vacas and his home bound friends any less "hip" now that they don't go to clubs?

I can't wait for the follow-up!

Note to Herald editors: Don't forget to include this gem in your Pulitzer package!

FOOTNOTE: Maybe it's just me, but perhaps it's stories like this that are causing the Herald's subscriber base to keep shrinking.

And while the Herald's website ranks in the top 25 of newspaper sites I think it's telling that visitors are spending increasingly less time on the site. Could the recent "re-design" have something to do with that?

Monday, December 29, 2008

If you surf the 'net at careful!

WEST PALM BEACH — Thirteen city employees accused of using office computers for sexual content or religious slurs have been axed or resigned in an ongoing investigation that cuts across department lines.

West Palm Beach spokesman Peter Robbins said today that more firings are likely in the probe by the Human Resources Division, as investigators follow a trail of e-mails sent and Web sites viewed. Since October three people have been fired and 10 resigned, with the most recent departure on Dec. 16, he said.

"Every investigated person "A" leads to person "B," Robbins said.

"It's not being done by department; it's being done by the record of the communications themselves."

The disappearing newspaper

via Romenesko.

A few items from around the internet today on the current depressing state of newspapers. How long before we hear similar bad news from the Herald?

The Craigslist effect: Cincinnati Enquirer to stop running classified ads on Mondays and Tuesdays

Iowa newspaper suspends print operations

Colorado newspaper stops publishing

Older news:

Seattle Times tells 500 employees to take 5 days of unpaid furlough

Detroit newspapers cut home delivery

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

News from One Herald Plaza

Good news for all of you who are fans (and who isn't?) of the Herald's Ace Crime Reporter David Ovalle.

The Herald is re-assigning David from Miami's mean streets to covering courts at the Metro Justice Building.

Here's the announcement sent out to the Herald newsroom on Monday:
METRO COURTS: The Metro Desk is happy to announce that David Ovalle will be moving from cops to courts, a natural progression from one premiere beat to another. David will walk through the courthouse doors already hooked in with the cops, lawyers and prosecutors whose stories he will so ably be telling.

Heck, he'll even know some of the defendants whose [alleged] crimes he covered over the last three years -- everyone from the serial rapist who broke out of jail to sex-scandal cover-up participants at Northwestern to the killers of babies and police officers.

David hails from San Diego and joined the Herald in 2002 after graduating from the University of Southern California. After two years in Northeast Neighbors and one year as a Metro GA, David began on the cops beat in November 2005. He'll be starting his new duties after the New Year, when Susannah Nesmith [current court reporter] starts as our new multimedia liaison.
David's one the best reporters ever to pursue a story in this town. I can't wait to read what he digs up at the three-ring circus at 1351 NW 12th Street AKA the Richard E. Gerstein Justice Building!

Good luck David!

Thanks everyone!

When I started this blog back in March of this year I had no idea if I'd still be with it in April.

Now it's 10 months later and I'm still at it.

When I started I wasn't sure what path I'd take.

I knew I wasn't going to be posting pictures of half-eaten plates of food on Lincoln Road or stories of my trips to Publix or how I spent my summer vacation. There are blogs that post that kind of stuff and I find them incredibly boring.

All I wanted to do was post a story or two a day that would make my readers laugh or say: "Wow, I didn't know that!"

I also wanted to use the knowledge that I've picked up as a journalist in the past 25 years in this town and shed some light on things that don't get talked about much.

I wasn't looking for tens of thousands of readers.

I just wanted to reach the one office worker on Brickell Avenue, the soccer mom on Key Biscayne and the half dozen or so readers in the Herald newsroom (I know who you are!) who, finding themselves a little bored after lunch, stopped for a minute or two to see what was on my mind.

I knew when I started this I wasn't going to be getting any journalism awards and certainly no one was going to be offering me any six-figure book deals.

But I was pleasantly surprised this morning when I clicked on New Times Riptide 2.0 and learned that New Times writer Kyle Munzenrieder called this blog (along with Carlos Miller's blog) "two of Miami's best blogs."

And that makes everything I've done for the past 10 months worth every minute.

And if you're one of the several hundred people who stop by a few times a day; thanks! I hope you like what you see here and that you'll stick with me. I'll try to do better!

Here's hoping everyone has a great Christmas!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Got any spare change?

If you have 75 cents you can buy a share of stock in the Miami Herald's parent company McClatchy. That was the price at the close of business today.

That makes the Sunday edition of the Miami Herald worth more than a share of McClatchy stock. Even a cup of coffee at Starbucks costs more.

Five years ago McClatchy stock went for $67.99 a share.

And prior to McClatchy acquiring Miami Herald parent Knight Ridder in 2006 its stock was in the $50 range.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Where's Carlos Alvarez Jr.?

Yesterday Miami learned - thanks to the Herald's Joan Fleischman - that Carlos Alvarez Jr., son of Miami Dade mayor Carlos Alvarez, has been released from prison after doing 13 ½ years for kidnapping and a series of violent sexual assaults committed in 1994.

Joan apparently got tipped to this story and did some old-fashioned digging and broke it exclusively, leaving the rest of the Miami media to play catch up.

Not much has been written about Carlos Jr. since he went to prison in 1995. I could find only one story in the Herald archives that was published after his sentencing:

Miami Herald, The (FL) - Saturday, March 25, 1995
Author: MANNY GARCIA Herald Staff Writer

Carlos Alvarez Jr ., son of a high-ranking Metro-Dade police chief, pleaded guilty Friday to sexually assaulting three girls and terrorizing several others.

Judge Lauren Levy Miller gave Alvarez Jr . 18 years in prison followed by 10 years probation -- a sentence agreed to by the Dade state attorney's office and defense lawyers.

Margaret Bisignani, assistant chief prosecutor with the sexual battery unit, explained the deal: "The victims collectively had expressed a desire that they did not want to testify," she said. "Everyone just wanted an end."

Alvarez Jr . is the son of Carlos Alvarez Sr., Metro's assistant director for police services. He could have received up to 30 years under the plea agreement, life in prison if he had gone to trial and lost.

Defense attorneys Douglas Hartman and C. Michael Cornely argued against prison time, saying Alvarez Jr . needs long-term psychological care.

Hartman said Alvarez Jr . had been repeatedly hospitalized for behavioral and psychological problems just before his arrest.

Alvarez Jr ., who had no prior criminal record, went on a two-month sexual rampage last year in Kendall:

* On March 23, Alvarez Jr . asked a girl for directions on Southwest 108th Avenue and 88th Street. He said he had a gun, threatened to kill her and demanded she show him her breasts. The girl ran away.

* On April 25, Alvarez Jr . asked a girl for directions on Southwest 108th Avenue and 93rd Street. He said he had a gun, ordered the girl into his car and exposed himself. She ran off.

* On May 13, Alvarez Jr . accosted a 20-year-old woman while she skated on Southwest 123rd Avenue and 82nd Street. He threatened to run the woman over unless she climbed into his car. Once she did, Alvarez Jr . showed her a knife and forced her to perform oral sex on him.

* On May 26, Alvarez Jr . tried to kidnap a girl at knifepoint while she sat on a bus bench at Southwest 117th Avenue and 88th Street. The girl ran off.

* One hour and 15 minutes later, Alvarez Jr . lured two teenage girls into his car at the Town & Country Center in Kendall. He pulled a knife and sexually assaulted the girls, ages 14 and 16.

Alvarez Jr . will serve time in a youthful offender prison, where young inmates have more opportunity for schooling and psychological counseling. Both sides agreed to house him with younger inmates because he is the son of a police officer.

Hartman, the defense lawyer, complained that his client was harshly punished because he is the son of a cop.

"I really think because he was Carlos Alvarez Jr . he paid the price."

The case was a sensitive one for both prosecutors and Metro police, two agencies that have to work together to prosecute criminals.

Metro conducted an internal review after a photographic lineup could not be found in the property room. It turned out to have been temporarily misplaced.
Joan's story yesterday was only the tip of the iceberg and leaves many questions unanswered.

Here are a few follow-up questions that need to be asked by the Herald and the rest of Miami's media:

  • Alvarez was released on Oct 1. Was there any warning given to the public that an extremely violent sex offender was being released into the community?
  • According to the FDLE's website Alvarez is living at 6890 SW 44th Street in Miami. That places him very close to many different municipalities: Miami, West Miami, South Miami, Coral Gables, and Pinecrest. Has the Fla Dept. of Parole and Probation notified the law enforcement authorities in these cities?
  • Have officials at neighboring schools been notified of this man's release into the community?
  • Did anyone have to approve of Alvarez's move into this apartment complex and did anyone tell the complex management of Alvarez's violent past? Are there children living in his apartment complex?
  • How often do parole and probation officials check on Alvarez's movements?
  • What restrictions are placed on his travel? Does he have a car that allows him to move freely about the community?
  • And last, will Alvarez be required to live under a bridge at night? And if not, why not?
  • Carlos Alvarez Jr. is an extremely violent and dangerous sexual predator. He didn't spend almost 14 years in prison for singing too loud in church or for having sex with an under aged girlfriend. He terrorized innocent young women. He needs to be watched closely.

    Any law enforcement official will tell you that a criminal with a violent past such as Alvarez Jr. will more than likely offend again. They'll also tell you that the next time he'll probably be more careful and won't leave any witnesses.

    And that's a frightening thought. Especially for women who live near SW 68th Ave. and 44th Street.

    Sunday, December 21, 2008

    Joanie returns to her old form!

    A great big Random Pixels "atta girl" goes to Joan Fleischman for breaking the news in this morning's paper that Miami-Dade mayor Carlos Alvarez's son, Carlos A. Alvarez Jr., is free after doing a hard 13½ years in stir for rape, kidnapping, false imprisonment, and lewd and lascivious assault on a child under 16.

    It was vintage Joan Fleischman.

    Joan scooped everyone reporting that young Carlos has been out since Oct. 1.

    She left the rest of Miami's media in the dust. They either dropped the ball on the story on have chosen not to report it. And if there's been a conspiratorial cone of silence among the Miami media decision makers in not reporting Carlos Jr.'s release, Joan evidently didn't get the memo.

    If any of the local TV news outlets have reported the story of Alvarez's release there's no evidence on their websites.

    It wouldn't be the first time that the news media in Miami have given Mayor Alvarez a free pass. Rebecca Wakefield reported back in Oct. 2006 that local journalists chose not to report Carlos Jr.'s troubles for fear that Alvarez Sr.'s opponents would use it against him.

    Three years ago Miami New Times editor Chuck Strouse penned a piece that documented some of the misdeeds of the progeny of Miami's top movers and shakers. No surprise that Carlos Jr., who according to Strouse is a scary 6-4 and 300 pounds, made the list.

    Joan took a buyout from the Herald back in October at around the same time of Carlos Jr.'s release and now freelances for the paper.

    But that doesn't mean she's been lazy or that her phone has stopped ringing.

    Joan concludes her report by writing that Carlos Jr. "could not be reached for comment."

    Maybe she - or some of Miami's media - could check under the bridge.

    Saturday, December 20, 2008

    Why are right wingers so dense?

    So there's this blog called McClatchy Watch. It's kind of like the west coast version of Babalu blog.

    It's hard to tell what the guy who runs it hates most: Barack Obama or McClatchy Newspapers.

    Nothing would please him more than to see McClatchy go out of business; something about McClatchy's liberal agenda... yadda yadda yadda. (Yawn!)

    And during the campaign he did nothing but post lies, half-truths and outright smears about Obama. His blog seethes with hate

    And now that Obama's been elected he's turned his attention to wondering why the media are publishing special editions, posters and mementos commemorating Obama's election.

    One of his most persistent questions is "Maybe I just don't remember -- did newspapers sell stuff like this after Bush won in 2000 and 2004?"

    Today he posted an item about McClatchy Newspapers publishing a book marking Obama's ascendency to the highest office in the land in which he again asks the question: "Funny, I don't remember McClatchy selling Bush books and posters and mugs in 2000 and 2004."

    Seems this guy is more than a little dense. He just can't seem to come to grips with the fact that Obama's election was a historic milestone and that the only thing historic about Bush's election was the fact that he stole it.

    But maybe he'll be able to figure it all out in the next 4 years! And then again, maybe not.

    30 days and counting!

    In a poll by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, respondents were asked to volunteer their assessments of how Bush would be remembered after he leaves office.

    The most frequent response, from 56 people, was "incompetent," followed by "idiot," "arrogant," "ignorant," "stupid," and so on. Nine people volunteered a three-letter synonym for donkey.
    Only nine?

    Miami skyline from South Beach ... Saturday, 5:41pm

    View is from Southgate Towers at 9th Street and West Ave. Click image to enlarge.

    Thursday, December 18, 2008

    Geez; this is getting bad!

    For those of you participating in the Herald Death Pool (sadistic bastards!) we bring you this bit of depressing news: Miami Herald parent McClatchy's stock is down over 30% today from an open of $1.49 a share to 99 cents a share at about 3:30pm EST.

    But we do have some good news. The Herald is reporting Seven kids have been honored as heroes for saving puppy's life!

    The students say they didn't think they were doing anything special.

    But a local animal organization says they're heroes and plans to honor them Thursday for saving a puppy shoved down a sewer grate earlier this year in Miami.

    Humane Educators Reaching Out, a local humane education organization, is scheduled to present awards to seven Miami-Dade school students at ceremonies Thursday morning at Lenora Brayon Smith Elementary School and Allapattah Middle School.

    The students -- Janika Viel, 10, and Jakara Viel, Paulemy Senat, Rantrell Johnson, Dominique Lowe, Ladena Parks and Julian Brown, all 13 -- were out playing when they saw someone stuffing Winnie, a German shepherd mix, down a sewer grate.

    One of them ran to find the neighborhood's local ''dog lady,'' who crawled into the sewer and retrieved Winnie after another neighbor pried off a nearby manhole cover.

    The incident severely broke one of the dog's rear legs, which had to be amputated, but those honoring the children say their efforts likely saved Winnie's life.

    Wednesday, December 17, 2008

    Learn photography from a pro!

    From time to time I get queries from people who have purchased a new camera but suddenly realize that they have no idea how to use it.

    I'm now offering personal one-on-one classes where you can learn the basics of photography from a published pro. Or take your basic skills to the next level.

    My work has been published in virtually every newspaper and magazine in the world.

    And now you can pick my brain and benefit from my 30+ years as a working pro.

    I'm available to tutor you in the following areas:

  • Portraiture
  • Lighting
  • Scenics
  • Glamour and models
  • Photojournalism
  • Studio photography
  • Close ups
  • Composition
  • Night photography
  • Proper lens selection
  • ....and much, much more.

    Email me for more details.
  • Was there ever any doubt?

    Obama is TIME magazine's Person of the Year


    Footnote: Among the finalists: Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin. Of course she's always been an also-ran starting in 1984 when she came in second in the Miss Alaska pageant.

    We can only hope nothing happens to change that.

    Sarah Palin: Second place finisher and the punchline to a million jokes.

    Drop us a line...

    Just a reminder that we always welcome emails and comments from our readers.

    Let us know what you like about the blog.

    And what you don't like.

    What you want to see more of ....and less of. You can always leave a comment. We don't censor comments here at Random Pixels. Just be nice.

    And if you have a tip about something newsworthy or something you think is interesting, we want to hear from you also. Just shoot a note to All tips are kept confidential.

    Monday, December 15, 2008

    Miami Herald plagiarizes itself

    Things must be getting really bad at the Herald.

    The paper is facing shrinking revenue, circulation, staff and resources. And it now appears that story ideas are also on the endangered list at the Herald.

    This Sunday's paper carried a story on FPL's Turkey Point Power Plant and the crocodiles that inhabit the 6800 acres of cooling canals that surround the plant.

    It's a great story ... the problem is that the Herald has printed it before. Lots of times.

    And Sunday's story offered little new information. The story that crocodiles are drawn to the warm water in the cooling canals is an old and familiar one in the pages of the Herald.

    But every few years some writer at the Herald feels compelled to recycle the story.

    I did a search and found some 68 references in the Herald archives since 1982 where the phrase "crocodiles" and "Turkey Point" exist in the same story.

    Herewith a few excerpts from the Herald's archives:
  • 2007 UP FRONT - THE EVERGLADES: A croc comeback: They're no longer endangered - The rebound of American crocodiles in South Florida will take them off the federal endangered species list.
    Miami Herald, The (FL) - Wednesday, March 21, 2007
    Author: CURTIS MORGAN,

    American crocodiles , once reduced to a few hundred reclusive reptiles hidden among the mangroves of the deep Everglades, are crawling off the endangered species list.
    "Everywhere there is some protected land along the coast, you're going to find a croc there," said private wildlife biologist Joe Wasilewski, who has spent 20 years surveying crocodiles in one of the havens where they've flourished -- the maze of cooling canals around Florida Power & Light's Turkey Point nuclear plant on Biscayne Bay.

    Miami Herald, The (FL) - Tuesday, July 6, 2004

    The canals next to the Turkey Point nuclear power plant are crawling with crocodiles , and one night the crocs came out.
    They fed on snook and ibis and each other. They tended their eggs, laid in holes dug out of the berms above the canals. The eggs shook and rolled. The hatchlings bleated from inside. When they emerged - dozens of them under the moon's dim light - the holes writhed.

    This was late, the end of a night that began hours before when Joe Wasilewski and Jon Holderman shoved off from the dock in their airboat.

    The Miami Herald - Wednesday, July 17, 2002
    Author: DANIEL CHANG,

    The 6-foot-long crocodile does not want to be disturbed.

    It hisses and snaps at its handler, who appears calm despite several near misses by the animal's powerful jaws. ``One of the tricks is these things tire out very quickly,'' says Joe Wasilewski, clutching the crocodile by the tail.

    Miami Herald, The (FL) - Saturday, July 17, 1993
    Author: JOHN DONNELLY Herald Staff Writer

    Joe Wasilewski aims his spotlight up and down the shoreline from his airboat, searching in the night for red light -- the beady eyes of the endangered American crocodile .

    In the darkness along the Florida Power & Light canals about 30 miles south of downtown Miami, he suddenly wiggles his light on a clump of mangroves. "Oh, my God in heaven," he says.

    There, eyes everywhere. A string of ruby stars.

    He finds a couple dozen day-old crocodiles , called hatchlings, 10-inch-long, tender-bellied babies, one of the most startling sights left in the American wild.

    Only 400 to 500 of the shy adult reptiles are believed to exist in the United States. Only about 30 crocodile nests are known in the southern reaches of Florida. Only three places in the country are known breeding spots.

    Here is one of the three. In the 168 miles of two-decade- old canals south of the Turkey Point nuclear power plant, waterways accessible only to those approved by FPL, a few of the rare Crocodylus acutus dig nests each spring. Each July and August, their babies hatch.

    Miami Herald, The (FL) - Thursday, May 25, 1989
    Author: ANNE-MARIE O'CONNOR Herald Staff Writer

    The cooling canals of the Turkey Point nuclear power plant have become a refuge for crocodiles and now host one of their largest U.S. colonies, scientists say.

    The American crocodiles , an endangered species, first began to nest at Turkey Point in 1978, six years after the plant was activated. The isolation of the canals -- inaccessible to the public -- the warm water and raised banks make it an ideal place to raise newborn crocodiles , which hatch in July and August, scientists say.

    The crocodile population at Turkey Point has grown to between 30 and 40 since then, and the area near the plant now hosts 14 percent of the crocodiles ' U.S. nesting sites, according to Frank Mazzotti, South Florida wildlife specialist for the Cooperative Extension Service. "The population is continuing to increase," he said.
  • The story of Joe Wasilewski and his work with crocs at Turkey Point is interesting and compelling. I worked on the same story with writer Rick Bragg for the New York Times back in June 1999. We did it once.

    I'm at a loss to explain, however, why the editors at the Herald seem to think it's good journalism to print, what is essentially the same story, over and over again.

    Maybe they think that most of their readers have short memories. Most...but not all!

    More bad news at Miami Herald parent McClatchy

    From Editor and Publsher:
    McClatchy November Ad Revenue Plunges 22%
    November was no month for thanksgiving at The McClatchy Co., with The Miami Herald parent reporting Monday that total revenue for the month dropped 19.4% compared to a year ago on advertising revenue that plunged 22.4%.
    McClatchy's stock price was $1.80 shortly before 1pm today.

    Thursday, December 11, 2008

    Who are these people?

    A Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll showing Barack Obama gaining support from the American public also includes this puzzling statistic:
    "Just 18% say they are going to miss him [Bush] when he is gone, half the number Mr. Clinton recorded on his way out of office."
    No surprise there. But my question to those 18 per centers is why on earth would you even admit to something like that? And please tell me what you are going miss most about him. I'd love to know!

    Here's another number: 39. That's the number of days Bush has left in office.

    Wednesday, December 10, 2008

    Is the Miami Herald for sale? Let's ask the boss

    McClatchy Company Chairman and CEO Gary Pruitt has commented (sort of) on reports that the company is selling the Herald.

    At the UBS Global Media and Communications conference in New York Tuesday Pruitt said:
    "...he wouldn’t have a comment. On his way out, BusinessWeek’s Jon Fine asked, “Not even a wink on Miami Herald?” Pruitt responded, “Not even a twinkle.”

    Pruitt also said that McClatchy's total ad revenues through October are down 17.4 percent and a large portion of that is not coming back. Looking ahead, Pruitt didn’t sugarcoat it, "Our current results are lousy and the economy is worsening. 2009 will start ugly, but we expect it to improve." And with over $2 billion in debt—Pruitt insisted that it is steadily being reduced.
    Not a very rosy picture. Does this mean more staff cuts at the Herald early next year? Rumors persist. Stay tuned.

    Tuesday, December 09, 2008

    Today's ridiculous Miami Herald headline

    Kidnapping ends happily

    Let's see if I have this straight: A guy gets kidnapped, has a hood wrapped around his head while he's driven around for two hours and pistol-whipped. The kidnappers demand $5,000 and if they don't get it they threaten to kill his family.

    But it all ended happily because he was released?

    Just imagine if that same headline writer had been working at a paper at the end of WWII:

    Concentration camp ordeal ends happily for liberated survivors!

    Ok, now I get can put a happy face on just about any story!

    Maybe someone should buy the Herald ...and then promptly close it!

    The Random Pixels Chuck E. Cheese Crime Blotter!

    Brookfield, Wisconsin, is a sleepy suburb of Milwaukee with a population of just under 40,000. It has low unemployment. About 50% of the residents have a college degree. In a bad year the police department might handle one murder. Arson and rape are almost non-existent.

    If you're thinking that this is a great place to live you'd be right.

    That is if you stay away from the local Chuck E. Cheese!

    According to today's Wall Street Journal:
    In Brookfield, Wis., no restaurant has triggered more calls to the police department since last year than Chuck E. Cheese's.

    Officers have been called to break up 12 fights, some of them physical, at the child-oriented pizza parlor since January 2007. The biggest melee broke out in April, when an uninvited adult disrupted a child's birthday party. Seven officers arrived and found as many as 40 people knocking over chairs and yelling in front of the restaurant's music stage, where a robotic singing chicken and the chain's namesake mouse perform.


    "The biggest problem is you have a bunch of adults acting like juveniles," says Town of Brookfield Police Capt. Timothy Imler. "There's a biker bar down the street, and we rarely get calls there."

    Sunday, December 07, 2008

    More So. Fla. newspaper woes

    It's been a rough year for South Florida's daily newspapers.

    The Palm Beach Post, South Florida Sun-Sentinel and the Miami Herald have all cut hundreds of jobs in an effort to stem losses due in part to declining readership and ad revenue.

    The Palm Beach Post recently cut 300 jobs in the paper's Production, Mailroom and Transportation departments after announcing that the paper will now be printed at the Sun-Sentinel's Deerfield Beach printing plant.

    And we learned yesterday that the Herald - which has already been hit by two rounds of job cuts - may be up for sale by parent company McClatchy.

    Now comes word that the privately-held Tribune Company - which owns the Sun-Sentinel - "has hired bankruptcy advisers as the ailing newspaper company faces a potential bankruptcy filing," according to a post on the New York Times website.

    All three South Florida newspaper now have content sharing arrangements in what was once one of Florida's most competitive newspaper markets.

    Earlier this year the Sun-Sentinel and the Miami Herald entered into a distribution deal in which each paper now delivers one another's products in their respective counties.

    Readers of the Herald have noticed for months the effect that the belt-tightening and job cuts at the paper have had on both the quality and quantity of news produced by what was once one of the Southeast's most prestigious, powerful and influential information sources.

    Look for more cost-saving agreements and consolidation of resources between the three papers in the months to come. The bosses at all three publications undoubtedly are finally coming to the realization that their hopes for survival are now inextricably linked.

    Saturday, December 06, 2008

    Pssst...wanna buy a newspaper?

    The New York Times is reporting that the McClatchy Company "has approached potential buyers for The [Miami] Herald."
    "The people briefed on the company’s plans say The Herald generates a very slim operating margin and that the most attractive part of any deal could be its prime waterfront real estate. But the Florida real estate market is in deep recession — one of the reasons for the struggles of the paper, which used to benefit from heavy real estate advertising."
    The Times posted this story Friday evening but as of Saturday at 1pm there appeared to be nothing regarding "the sale" on the Herald's website.

    Thursday, December 04, 2008

    True love hits a speed bump in the drive-thru

    A Vero Beach man is accused of assaulting his girlfriend multiple times with a McDonald's cheeseburger, according to his arrest affidavit.
    "The couple began arguing and Gonzalez would not allow her to leave the car, the affidavit said. The woman threw Gonzalez's drink out of the car, the report said. In response, Gonzalez grabbed the woman's arm and forced the cheeseburger into her face."
    Looks like some anger management classes are in the future for both of these young lovers.

    Tuesday, December 02, 2008

    Sarah Palin...still clueless

    One of the things that frequently pops up in Sarah Palin's speeches and interviews is the mention of her son who is serving in Iraq.

    Sarah wants her followers to know that as commander of Alaska's National Guard and a mom with a son in combat, she stands solidly behind America's fighting men and women.

    However apparently that support doesn't extend to veterans.

    Palin was in Georgia Monday campaigning for Republican Saxby Chambliss for which she's taking some heat from those back in Alaska who think she's neglecting more important business at home.

    Another thing being neglected by Palin is a little piece of political history attached to Chambliss. Anchorage Daily News editor Matt Zencey explains:
    I wonder if [Palin] knows the true measure of the man she is eagerly helping.

    Chambliss was elected to the Senate in 2002 by running one of the most reprehensible campaigns of modern times. He was up against incumbent Democrat Sen. Max Cleland, a Vietnam War veteran who lost both legs and his right arm to a grenade during that conflict.

    Chambliss avoided serving in Vietnam. He got four student draft deferments, and when his number finally came up, he was medically disqualified with knee troubles.

    In the best Karl Rove fashion, Chambliss the draft-evader attacked Cleland the war hero for being soft on terrorism. Distorting Cleland’s votes about workplace rules for the new Homeland Security Department employees, Chambliss portrayed him as a tool of terrorists like Osama bin Laden.


    So there you have the fine American that Palin is trying to re-elect to the U.S. Senate.

    Gov. Palin’s eldest joined the Army and has been deployed to Iraq. As a justifiably proud military mom, she might ask herself why she is using her conservative star power to support such a reprehensible Republican chicken hawk.
    Palin's not alone in supporting this clown. Her running mate John McCain stumped for Chambliss in Georgia a week after his defeat.

    This is the same John McCain who once called Chambliss's ads smearing Cleland "worse than disgraceful. It's reprehensible."

    But the unanswered question is that if Chambliss avoided serving in Vietnam, why are Palin and McCain "palling around" with him?

    And if any Republicans out there want to explain why they think that Palin is their best hope in 2012, I'm all ears.

    Monday, December 01, 2008

    Is this a great town, or what?

    Here's a guy who's figured out a solution to Miami's homeless problem. From the Associated Press:

    MIAMI - Max Rameau delivers his sales pitch like a pro. "All tile floor!" he says during a recent showing. "And the living room, wow! It has great blinds."

    But in nearly every other respect, he is unlike any real estate agent you've ever met. He is unshaven, drives a beat-up car and wears grungy cut-off sweat pants. He also breaks into the homes he shows. And his clients don't have a dime for a down payment.

    Rameau is an activist who has been executing a bailout plan of his own around Miami's empty streets: He is helping homeless people illegally move into foreclosed homes.
    Let me see if I have this straight...he's moving people who can't afford housing into homes that don't belong to him, but that once had owners who couldn't afford them either. Brilliant business model!

    Rameau is the same guy who set up and ran the squatters village on city-owned land in the 'hood....until it burned down last year.

    The story ends with this line: "So far, police have not gotten involved."

    Let's see how long that lasts!