Wednesday, August 05, 2009

More staff cuts at Miami Herald

Battle Vaughan, far left, top row

Broward New Times blogger Bob Norman reports that Miami Herald publisher David Landsberg has announced another round of layoffs at the troubled paper.
To all Herald employees:

Today we are announcing reductions affecting 34 positions, part of our ongoing effort to weather the economic uncertainty that continues to affect our market.

The reduction plan includes open positions and attrition and will result in the separation of 16 FTEs (full-time equivalents), which is less than two percent of our workforce. Divisions affected are Advertising, operations, HCP/Aboard, Interactive and both Miami Herald and El Nuevo newsrooms. The affected employees will be notified immediately and will be entitled to transition packages.
Among those affected are full-time newsroom staffers; some of whom have been offered part-time positions.

Random Pixels has learned that one of those staffers is veteran Herald photographer Battle Vaughan.

Vaughan has been at the Herald 43 years and has more seniority than any other Herald photo department staffer.

Vaughan reportedly was offered a part-time position but opted instead to take a severance package.

In his 43 years at the paper Vaughan has covered every conceivable kind of assignment: fires, floods, hurricanes, riots.

In the 70's and 80's Vaughan shot more than 100 color covers for the Herald's now defunct Sunday Magazine, Tropic.

And Vaughan also appeared as a model - more than once - in the pages of Tropic.

Long-time Herald staffer Marice Cohn Band fondly recalls the time she photographed Vaughn - who was not known for being a snappy dresser - for a Tropic magazine feature, complete with his plastic pocket protector.

"I photographed him many times," says Cohn Band. "He's was a great character actor and always got into the part."

And Cohn Band describes Vaughan as a "scientific genius." If he needed something and it wasn't available "he'd make it."

In 1983 when he couldn't find a computer desk that fit his needs - he designed and built his own according to a story he wrote for the Herald at the time.
The whole project began when we bought a home computer. The computer's main selling point, I told my wife, was that it was compact. "Just folds up like a portable sewing machine when you're finished," I said. "It won't get in the way at all."

This is a major point for those of us in three-bedroom houses with kids, pets and years of accumulated impedimenta.

The only problem was the peripherals. The printer, for instance, doesn't fold up like a sewing machine. Besides, my kids are into computers and they are never finished with it.

Then there's the monitor, which is the size of a small television set. And several yards of assorted cables. And disks. And reference books. For some reason, no book tells you what you want to know. It takes several.

Anyway, it was time for another piece of furniture. The question: Make it or buy it?
In the mid-80's Vaughan started shooting less news when he took over the duties as a photo department administrator in charge of keeping things running smoothly. One staffer recalls that "Battle was the go-to guy if you needed anything taken care of. He knew it all."

One former Herald staffer who joined the Herald in the 80's says, "When I arrived Battle was essentially running the photo department."

In the past few years Vaughan had returned to shooting.

But instead of still pictures, Vaughan started shooting and editing video for the Herald's website.

He "re-invented the wheel" says Cohn Band.

Video by Battle Vaughan

A lot of great journalists have worked at the Herald. Only a few deserve the title "legend"... Edna Buchanan, Arnold Markowitz, Gene Miller to name a few. As far as we're concerned, Battle Vaughan also belongs in that group.


  1. I have know Battle for more than 35 years...he is a class act. Last year I took the buyout from the PBP and have not looked back. I am sure he will be successful in whatever he chooses to do. THERE IS LIFE AFTER NEWSPAPERS.

    John J. Lopinot
    Former Palm Beach Post Photographer/Editor

  2. Thank you, Bill, I appreciate your kindness and that of my colleagues. It has been a good run, and I will recall my years at the Herald with pride. I hope the Herald -- and the newspaper industry, which is a fundamental part of our democracy-- recover to their former greatness. There are lots of dedicated people still there to make it happen. /
    Battle Vaughan

  3. 43 years! What a loss. What a huge, huge visual hole that will not be filled.

  4. I'm so sorry to be reading this, Battle! I always knew when you answered the phone that my transmitted images were in excellent hands.

    Tomorrow will be my 25th anniversary at the Tallahassee Democrat; I hope I have the fortitude to keep chugging along as long as you and Lou Toman!

    Best to you in the next scene,

    Phil Sears
    Staff Photojournalist
    Tallahassee Democrat

  5. Battle, many thanks for all your help when I was just getting started @ The Herald a few years back.
    I'm sure you'll find a way stay busy and mentoring visual journalists.
    Be well.

    Angel Valentin (from Puerto Rico)

  6. After I left the Herald to become a new editor in Fort Worth, in 1983, before I returned as an editor--BV was in Dallas and took the time to come over and see me. He gave me lots of requested advice and, as always friendship. Earlier, when I was a new Herald photographer strapped for cash with a new condo that had a broken water heater, BV came over and showed me how to put one in. Actually, he put one in for me. BV, you have had 43 years of significant contribution--something that will continue!!

  7. My favorite Battle story is this: Back in the early 1970s, Tropic Magazine was doing a story on selling pups and didn't have anything for the cover. Battle, on his own time over the weekend, built a doghouse from scratch. He photographed it on Monday (with a pup) and it made the perfect cover. Talk about going beyond the call of duty. For four decades, he has been a great colleague, and I'll miss him.
    -- John Dorschner

  8. Can someone tell me how to contact Battle Vaughn? I'm hoping he still has a photo he took many moons ago. I'd like to use it in a forthcoming book.

    --Cindy Hahamovitch

  9. Cindy
    It's best to contact the Herald. They are set up to locate photos. I happen to know that Battle doesn't have anything he shot for the paper.

    Call the Herald at 305.376.3760


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