Sunday, September 25, 2011

Why does the Miami Herald continue to ignore an important story?

An open letter to Miami Herald executive editor Aminda "Mindy" Marques.

Dear Mindy

Hope you had a great Sunday.

How 'bout them Dolphins?

Actually, while I was watching the game today, I received a press release from the Miami Police Department.

Seems there was another shooting in Liberty City at 2 o'clock in the afternoon.
A little before 2:00 PM, several shots were fired in the area of, N.W. 10 Ave & 55 Street. Officers arrived to the scene to find two black men critically wounded from gunshots, in a silver Nissan Altima. According to Detectives, the offenders fled the scene in an older model, black four door, Buick with dark tints. The vehicle has damage to the rear right passenger side. Both victims were transported to Ryder Trauma Center, unfortunately one of the men died as a result of his injuries. A black Buick was recovered in the area of N.W. 7 Avenue & 58 Street.
I know you're aware of these shootings because your paper occasionally reports on some of them on page 4B.

Here's my question: How many more innocent people have to die before your paper starts treating this cycle of violence like the important story that it is?

The paper has spent several hundreds of thousands of dollars covering the Jan. 2010 Haiti earthquake and aftermath.

I've even heard reports that the Herald has spent somewhere in the neighborhood of $70,000 just to rent a villa to house reporters and photographers covering the story. (If that figure is off, feel free to correct me.)

So, I was wondering; any chance you could spend the same amount of energy and a fraction of the resources covering a story a little closer to home? A story about an epidemic of violence that's occurring daily on streets just a short drive from your office.

We're not talking about an isolated shooting or two.

This is a cycle of violence that seemingly, has no end. The people of Liberty City, Wynwood and Overtown are being terrorized by a criminal element that has no regard for human life.

Imagine, for one minute Mindy, living with that kind violence on an almost daily basis. Year in and year out with no hope of escaping it.

Yet, the Herald sits idly by and does nothing to probe the root causes of the violence and its long term effects on residents. Especially the children.

I can't imagine you ignoring a similar pattern of violence in well-heeled sections of Coral Gables or Pinecrest.

Here's my suggestion: Why not assign a team of two or three reporters who will do nothing for the next six months but examine the violence and its causes in these neighborhoods? Perhaps include a couple of reporters from El Nuevo Herald and make a project out of it.

One question that might be examined: Why is the almost daily violence confined to this one section of the county? Or, how does living with violence on a daily basis affect children over a period of five, ten or 15 years? Is a child more likely to get involved with violence after being exposed to it for so long?

I'm not optimistic. It seems as if someone in charge at the paper has decided the people who inhabit Liberty City, Brownsville and Overtown don't matter.

But, who knows? If you decide to go forward with this, your reporters might even come away with some answers that will make a difference. And perhaps, grab the Pulitzer that the paper came so close to winning for its Haiti coverage.

Good luck. I'll be watching.

1 comment:

  1. And...who would those reporters be?

    Aside from an ever-changing set of newbie interns, all they have left are maybe half a dozen real reporters, many of whom are either on unpaid furlough at any given time or so overworked and/or demoralized that they're not about to actually go out there on the streets on an assignment like that.

    And, even if they did, who would lead the team as editor? There's no one left there who can do that, either.

    This is what McClatchy has done to the place. It's pretty much over now.


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