Monday, January 11, 2010

Who's in charge at the Herald?

Does anyone at the Miami Herald even give a sh*t any longer?

Apparently not.

Within a minute of visiting the paper's Web site this afternoon, I found glaring examples of a lack of oversight and a paucity of imagination at the Herald. And that was in just one story.

In the story - headlined "Record cold sweeps South Florida" - the writer is credited as "Robert Samuels, Associated Press." The problem is that Samuels works for the Herald. It's a small mistake, but how are readers supposed to trust anything in the paper when a simple thing like a byline is screwed up?

The second lapse is a little more serious.

I've lived in South Florida for many years and have experienced cold weather more than once.

The cold weather we've experienced in the past few days was and is a major story.

But as we all know, every time the mercury dips below 65, every TV station in town leads their newscasts with stories with titles like "Arctic Blast" or "Polar Plunge."

Those stories are more often than not accompanied by video shot as commuters get off the trains at the Government Center Metro Rail station. Why? Because it's easy and requires no thought or imagination. The videographer stands in one spot and hits the record button and in a few minutes he's got all the pictures he needs. It's like shooting fish in a barrel. It's something I expect from Miami TV station news.

In Miami, when it comes to TV news, if your expectations are set low, you're almost never disappointed.

But it's not something I want to see or expect from the Miami Herald.

The Herald's executive editor, Anders Gyllenhaal, reminds readers on a regular basis that the Herald is loaded with talented people.

So, that made it all the more disappointing to see the slide show that went with the cold weather story, loaded with ho-hum pictures of commuters arriving at the downtown Metro Rail station.

Perhaps there was a lack of communication between the assignment desk and Herald staff photographer Carlos Guerrero. Or perhaps Carlos just wasn't feeling inspired this morning.

In any event, it appears that Carlos drove down to the government center, attached a long lens to his camera, stood in one spot for 5 or 10 minutes and shot pictures of bundled-up commuters getting off an escalator; one right after the other.

The resulting pictures showed a complete lack of thought or imagination and certainly didn't show readers anything they haven't seen hundreds of times before.

Had Carlos shot the same pictures for a college photojournalism course, he would have been given a big, fat F.

There are some in the newspaper business who think that pictures are great for plugging holes. If that's the case, then Carlos' pictures succeeded.

But then there are some who think that news pictures - like the words in a story - should inform and enlighten readers.

In that respect, the pictures shot by Carlos Guerrero this morning failed miserably.

So, if no one at the Herald cares any longer; why should the readers?

1 comment:

  1. Yup, the photos were certainly lackluster. So was the coverage, or lack thereof: if there's ever a story that affects everyone, a prolonged and record-breaking cold front is it. What was everyone in the office talking about yesterday? How about everyone bundled up over the weekend? The good (efforts to help homeless), the bad (folks dying because of hypothermia or not knowing how to heat their houses), the ugly (what S Floridians pull out of their closets), the practical (hot toddy recipes? where to get space heaters?) --there were a million ways to cover this story, to say nothing of economic impact, but all we saw was cursory and unimaginative work in print and online. That, plus an ill-advised video on protecting iguanas, telling people to bring them into the house for a few days to revive. Good luck with that! Next week, video on people bitten by iguanas who have no business being in your bathroom. Sigh.


Feel free to comment on anything you read here.

All comments must first be approved. Spam and spam links will not be tolerated or approved.