Thursday, December 09, 2010

Is the Miami Herald broken beyond repair?

"It is a newspaper's duty to print the news and raise hell." -Wilbur F. Storey, newspaper editor in 1861

The cheering had barely subsided, but within hours following Lebron James's decision last July to play for the Miami Heat, the Miami Herald was already speculating on where King James would live.

And less than two weeks later, the Herald - in a page one story - was printing more speculation on the house-hunting James and teammates Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade. The story was chock full of shaky theory and rumor and alarmingly short on solid facts.

This morning the Herald reported that James has found a home.

But, by now it's old news. Says so right in the Herald's story: "The sale closed on Nov. 12, county records show. The transaction was first reported by real estate broker Alex Shay on Nov. 19 on his Miami Real Estate Blog."

Lately, the Herald has been late on a lot stories it should have reported first.

On Nov. 23, the Herald finally got around to doing a story on a hookworm infestation on Miami Beach; more than a month after it was reported in other Miami media.

Last Nov. 17, as a suspected thief led Miami police on a nationally televised, 30 minute, two county, high-speed chase the Herald was posting stories on the Breaking News section of its website about People Magazine's sexiest man alive.

Also in the Herald this morning...more proof of lethargy and a lack of enterprise and fresh ideas at the paper.

On page 1B is a story about the Overtown Farmer's Market. The Herald's Karina Chavarria starts off her piece with a scene right out of Norman Rockwell painting:
"Vivian Dunn stands proudly behind three large serving tables filled with steaming collard greens, fresh sweet potato pies and trays of baked ziti.

As patrons approach, she points out a signature dish.

``This right here is Mulligan soup,'' she said, scooping up a heaping plate of the mixed vegetables and chicken stew. ``I put everything in it that's good for you."
The market, on the corner of Northwest Second Avenue and Tenth Street, is the only local-producer-exclusive farmers market in Miami, which also helps people on food assistance get fresh and healthy foods through subsidized purchases.
Roots in the City, founded by author and academic Dr. Marvin Dunn in 1994, is a nonprofit, community-based organization focused on creating jobs and beautifying Miami's inner city.
Nice story I suppose. But the problem is the Herald ran essentially the same story just year ago!

On Oct. 21, 2009, the Herald's James Burnett wrote about the Overtown Market in a story that ran on page one.
On Saturday morning, a farmers market came to Overtown.

Children played and chased one another, careful to avoid the rows and rows of leafy veggies nearby.
The garden, at the intersection of Northwest Third Avenue and 10th Street, takes up an entire city block, with dozens of rows of collard greens, lettuce, pumpkin, tomato, papaya, orange and banana trees, and decorative flowers such as violets.
Marvin Dunn, a local historian and former Florida International University professor, launched the project in August after two years of planning, with hopes of putting vacant land to good use by creating jobs and a self-sustaining business.
Getting a story first and getting it right has always been job one for any newspaper. Coming up with fresh ideas for stories is also requisite. Apparently those in charge at the Herald have forgotten this.

One can only hope they find their way again.

Before it's too late.


  1. I can remember having to rein in new reporters who always wanted to do the 'walking catfish' story as soon as they discovered it. Old Florida hands had to sit them down and explain that the 'walking catfish' story wasn't really a story, just because the newbie writer'd just heard about it.

    Maybe the Herald shouldn't have shitcanned their institutional memory staffers -- they might've been able to put a halt to the annual farmers market stories.

  2. Thanks Mole! Always enjoy your perspective. You actually know what you're talking about! Walking catfish! Hah!

    Did you work at the Herald?

  3. They can always recycle the "Castro is Dead" story -- hail, one day it will even be true!


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