Friday, March 13, 2009

Open letter to Miami Herald executive editor Anders Gyllenhaal

Miami Herald executive editor Anders Gyllenhaal

Good afternoon Anders:

I hope that things are slowly returning to normal at One Herald Plaza.

I - along with many South Floridians - was shocked at the news Wednesday of the latest "expense reductions" instituted by MHMC.

It didn't escape my attention that this is the third time in less than a year that you've resorted to these measures.

Einstein once defined insanity as "doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."

If the cuts didn't fix things the first two times, I'm not sure a third round is going to change anything.

Perhaps it's time to start doing some things a little differently.

Here are a few suggestions from someone who's been reading the Herald for the past 50 years.

  • Try to win back lost readers. Fewer people and fewer pages means you have to start being very selective in what you print. This kind of stuff simply isn't the best use of resources OR talent.

    Every story you print from this day forward must reach out and grab the reader and get them excited and involved.

    Edna Buchanan once said her best day "is the one where I can write a lead that will cause a reader at his breakfast table to spit up his coffee, clutch at his heart, and shout, `My God, Martha, did you read this?' " Does that describe anything in today's paper?

  • Start, once again, to look critically at every powerful person in Miami. Stop printing stories like this. The March 1 story on developer Jorge Pérez read like it was written by his publicist. It offered no new information and violated one of the most fundamental rules of journalism: "Present both sides of a story."

    If your mission is to "comfort the afflicted, afflict the comfortable," the Pérez story failed miserably.

  • Realize that the Miami Herald is not a monolith. The Herald can no longer afford the luxury of looking upon itself as the only game in town. South Floridians now get their news from a myriad of sources.

    Many of your readers write blogs and get their news from blogs. When is the Herald going to recognize this fact? We're are not your competitors; we're in this together.

    Want proof that people are reading blogs? Below is a screen shot of the visitor activity on my blog from just one location; The Herald. It shows 72 entries in just 24 hours. I must be doing something right.

  • And finally; now might be the time to look at a complete redesign of the Herald.

    The current design is stodgy and outdated.

    If you were trying to attract younger readers, which one of these do you think would get the job done?

    Those are just a few of my ideas. My list is by no means complete.

    If you have any you'd like to add; I'm all ears.

    You know where to reach me!
  • 1 comment:

    1. As long as I've been acquainted with him, Anders has always helmed a foundering ship, from my old hometown paper, The Star-Tribune, to the Herald. I'm looking forward to the time when he can distance himself from the immediate tasks at hand and give us his honest assessment, in his own words, on what's happening to this country's newspaper medium.


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