Monday, August 06, 2012

Miami Herald Deathwatch

There's no way to sugarcoat this: The Miami Herald is dying.

Let's check the vitals:

  • McClatchy, the Herald's parent company, in its latest quarterly report to the Securities and Exchange Commission listed its debt at $1.6 billion.

  • One Herald executive apparently hopes to make a dent in that massive debt with some deceptive billing practices. Last Friday,  Herald subscribers learned that the paper planned to bill them an extra $1.25 for an upcoming "exciting" 2012 Football Preview...whether they want it or not.

  • Outraged Herald reader Christopher Jahn left this comment on Jim Romenesko's blog:
    I was on the verge of re-subscribing to The Herald; I canceled my subscription when they ripped the heart out of the Sunday paper by canceling TROPIC. Jim Defede nearly lured me back, but then the clueless moron running the paper fired him for patently false reasons. And now this. The Herald will never see a dime from me now, unless they retract this and publicly terminate the moron who approved this. And it has to be both; as long as the sleazy weasel who concocted this fraud is at the paper, I'm not buying it.

  • By the end of this year, all McClatchy papers - including the Herald - will start charging to read their content online. One of this blog's readers reacted to the announcement by writing: "Now that they have virtually nothing worth buying, they're gonna try to sell it."

  • That reader's observation was borne out yesterday when a weekend editor at the paper allowed two inexperienced interns to cover a major news story. The Herald no longer employs a full-time police reporter and on weekends there are no experienced staff reporters available to cover breaking news. (The Herald does have a full-time dance critic, however.)

  • Meanwhile, rumors of more lay-offs continue to circulate in the paper's fifth floor newsroom, which at times, resembles a ghost town. The Herald eliminated a dozen positions in Aug. 2011. "We're overdue," says one staffer. (Last month, two McClatchy papers - The Lexington Herald-Leader and Fort Worth Star-Telegram - laid off staffers.)

  • I've been reading the Herald for more than 50 years. The reasons for the paper's decline are many and complex. But, as I compare the Herald that's produced today with that of years past, I can only come to one conclusion: Like the lion in the video below, the Herald is dying a painful, slow death. And it's not pleasant to watch.


    1. Honestly, the only reason - and I mean the ONLY reason - I read The Herald at all is because they DO have a full-time theatre critic. I work in theatre, and I write The South Florida Theatre Scene. Right now, The Herald is the only major media outlet that has any arts coverage that's worth a damn. They lose the critics, and I will have no reason to read it at all.

      I've long said it's stupid to fire the reporters; it's like an airplane crew that's running low on fuel cutting off the engines to save weight. Yes, you use less fuel, but you crash sooner.


    2. The decline started shortly after Dave Lawrence and, later, Marty Baron left. They were replaced by people less experienced and with much less integrity.

    3. I love newspapers, and I've subscribed to the Miami Hurled since I moved to Florida in 1985. It was a crappy paper even back then, written by clods, managed by fools, presented by rod-up-the-ass poseurs and snobs. I also subscribe to the NY Times, a paper I've read for over half a century. Obviously I'm an old fart. Newspapers are buggy whips. It's painful, but we will all move on.

    4. That video is so sad. Sorry about the Herald, too.


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