Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Breaking up is ain't so hard to do

The honeymoon is over.

The fat lady has sung.

The marriage between Coconut Grove Grapevine blogger Tom Falco, (left), and the Miami Herald has been dissolved.

Last March Falco told his readers that some of his blog postings would appear on the Miami Herald's website as a part of that paper's Community News Network.

Late last week, Falco quietly opted out of the arrangement that he once called,"an incredible opportunity for Coconut Grove."

Falco told Random Pixels in an email, "I didn't feel I was benefitting from it. They have a girl sellings ads now, and wanted to use my stories while they kept all the ad money. I wasn't getting many hits from them, it was no loss to me." Falco has retained the services of an advertsing account executive and will compete with the Herald for the Grove's ad dollars!

In a paragraph (which has since been removed) on a page of his blog aimed at potential advertisers Falco wrote that his alliance with the Herald was
"A GREAT REASON TO ADVERTISE: One or two of our stories are placed on the home page of the Miami Herald almost daily. The Herald receives 1 miilion hits a day on their home page! Your ad will be seen by thousands of people daily, with many new and fresh eyes seeing it!" But in the next paragraph, Falco, in a not so subtle attempt to steal business from his new partner asks: "Why place your ad in a print publication that is read once and then thrown out?"

Random Pixels was suspicious of the Grapevine/Herald alliance from the start.

But the Herald is between a rock and hard place. Recent cuts at have pretty much eliminated the paper's once robust Neighbors staff. The paper has turned over much of the community news responsibilities to its Community News Network contributors.

Still, we never understood why a newspaper with 20 Pulitzer Prizes and a 100-year history of journalistic excellence would want to link to a blog that is a repository for bad writing, wretched photography and a complete absence of anything remotely resembling journalism.

To us, the logic of the arrangement made about as much sense as National Public Radio hiring The Situation from Jersey Shore to be its White House correspondent. The partnership was even more bizarre when you consider the fact that Falco once accused the Herald of "stealing" his stories.

To be fair, Falco knows the Grove. His blog, the Coconut Grove Grapevine (CGG) has the potential for being one of the best community blogs in South Florida.

But if Cocomut Grove can be compared to Andy Griffith's Mayberry, then Falco is a combination of Barney Fife and Aunt Bee.

On some occasions, when writing on his blog, Falco finds his inner Barney Fife as he single-handedly tries to rid the Grove of "gangs", groups of kids who bother him at lunch and "scammers." And on other occasions he channels the anal-retentive Aunt Bee as he alerts his readers to breaches of Grove etiquette.

The motto of CGG might be "It's my way or the (Main) highway."

The thin-skinned Falco doesn't tolerate dissent or opinions that differ from his. Last year Falco removed the South Florida Daily Blog from his blog roll when SFDB's "Rick" dared to challenge Falco's "reporting.". And recently, Falco disabled comments on CGG.

But all that aside, CGG is still one of the quirkiest and unintentionally hilarious blogs on the web.

When a Miami city commissioner threatened Falco with legal action because of a comment a reader left on CGG, Falco caved in like a rain-soaked cardboard box.

Falco's foilbles are being noticed by others. A few weeks ago, Miami New Times named Falco, Miami's Best Gadfly. With thinly disguised sarcasm, New Times wrote of Falco, "[the] Coconut Grove Grapevine community blog can be irritating. When he's writing about threatening to take photos of kids "posing" as school basketball players — only to watch them "scatter like rats" — or railing against a woman in a food truck poaching customers from Grove restaurants, Falco has all the perspective of a Picasso."

The point of the New Times blurb whizzed right over Falco's swollen head. Falco wrote, "We won "Best Gadfly" award; is that a compliment?"

Random Pixels wishes Falco all the best as he strikes out on his own, free from the shackles of the evil behemoth at One Herald Plaza. You see, we're big fans of "The Grape." While you may not always get your facts straight, you're always good for a laugh!

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