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!

    1 comment:

    1. The answer to your question is: because it's the Herald!


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