Sunday, December 01, 2013

The Miami Herald's Rick Hirsch and Mindy Marqués fiddle while Rome burns

Question: Why are these people laughing?
Answer: Because their mission to destroy
what's left of the Miami Herald is nearly complete. 


"Anything worth doing, is worth doing right." -Hunter S. Thompson


It's been a little over a year since the Miami Herald announced it would start charging readers to access the paper's website.

In an email to staffers, Herald publisher David Landsberg outlined the reasoning behind the paywall:
Why are we doing this? The world of news and information keeps changing. Technological advances provide us with the convenience of mobile phones, tablets and social media channels. We have transformed our business to become 24/7 information specialists, with the ability to deliver breaking news through a variety of digital platforms in addition to our print newspapers. These changes have resulted in a new business model, whereby the cost of producing our news coverage is spread across the various channels we provide.
When I first read Landsberg's line about the Herald delivering breaking news on a 24/7 basis, I actually believed him. (Anyone want to sell me a bridge in Brooklyn?)

The Herald's paywall went up on Dec. 18, 2012.

I'm no mathematical genius, but by my calculations, it's been almost a year since the Herald started charging to access the website.

So how's that plan to deliver "Breaking News 24/7" working out?

Answer: It's not.

Sometime Saturday night, 4 women were shot in Liberty City.  Two of the women died from their wounds.

The Herald's 24/7 Information Specialists finally got around to posting something on the shooting at 10:57 this morning.

And the story? A four sentence copy-and-paste job from CBS4 that fails to mention that two of the women died.

You don't need to follow the news all that closely to know that these kinds of violent crimes are occurring all too often in Miami-Dade.

Here's an incomplete list of last month's crime-related headlines:

  • Suspect Charged With First-Degree Murder With a Firearm in Miami-Dade Nail Salon Shooting of Aaron Vu.

  • Child Shot in Miami Gardens, in City's 10th Shooting in 11 Days.

  • Boy, 9, Shot in Face While Sleeping in Liberty City Home.

  • Elderly woman shot while sitting inside home.

  • And just yesterday, in a story the Herald hasn't yet copied and pasted from CBS4, a man and two teen boys, carjacked a Miami Gardens man at gun point.

    Most of those stories received scant, or minimal coverage on the Herald's website, and if they made it into the paper, more often than not, they were buried deep inside the local section.

    Crime has reached epidemic proportions in Miami-Dade. But you wouldn't know it from reading the Herald.

    What stories are more important than crime to those in charge at the Herald?

    An art museum.

    Miami Herald, Dec. 1, 2013.

    Abortion in Haiti. (A two-parter than ran on page 1A both days.)

    Miami Herald, Nov. 24, 2013.

    When will the Herald start covering crime the way it should be covered?

    Probably when it starts affecting the paper's two top managers.

    As far as Herald managing editor Rick Hirsch is concerned, there is no crime problem. At least not in his neighborhood. He lives in a half-million dollar condominium on Belle Isle in Miami Beach.

     And the Herald's current executive (absentee) editor - and former People Magazine Miami bureau chief - Mindy Marqués, doesn't even live in Miami-Dade. She lives in Broward County.

    Today I'm offering Rick Hirsch and Mindy Marqués this challenge: For the next year - starting Jan. 1 - how about covering crime in Miami-Dade as if it were occurring in your cloistered neighborhoods of Belle Isle and Davie?

    In other words, cover crime as if it were affecting you the same way it affects people in Liberty City, Overtown, Opa-Locka and Miami Gardens every goddamned day of the year.

    Cover and analyze every violent crime that occurs in Miami-Dade for a year.

    Explore how violent crime impacts young children. How does it affect them developmentally?

    Try to explain how high-powered weapons end up in the hands of young thugs.

    Try to learn why 15 and 20 year-old men seemingly have no moral compasses. Report all that and explain it to your readers.

    Stop chasing that Pulitzer in Haiti that you'll never win, and start covering things in Miami-Dade that actually impact the lives of your readers. In case you've forgotten, your readers are the people who buy your paper, patronize your advertisers and pay your salaries.

    Are you up to it?

    We shall see.


    1. Strong stuff. They ought to be doing all three - Haiti, Latin America and local news, for real - local news that affects real people.

      And they ought to go back to updating web stories in real time - not letting them sit there untouched all day.

      If you're going to be a 24/7 online operation (or anything close to that) you need to train readers to know that they can rely on you to give them the latest details, so they keep coming back and building your page views.

      It's not simply a matter of limited resources - we know that professionals are leaving in droves and being replaced by interns, when they are replaced at all.

      We know that space in the paper is scarce. Those are givens.

      But it's really about smart, ongoing deployment of the remaining resources. That's where things are going horribly wrong - a sense that no one is at the controls.

      They are not paying attention to the daily blocking and tackling of the business and, so, they are committing suicide right in front of our eyes.

      1. Ditto to everything you said. I don't even bother with the Herald anymore. When I need REAL news I go to Random Pixels.

    2. Dear Bill:

      You are 100% correct in your assertions. But then this chronic inability of the Herald's management team to cover local South Florida and Breaking News in even a halfway satisfactory and compelling manner on a consistent basis is a longstanding one, so I will see see your cited crime stories and will raise you, among many, many choices:

      a.) a tsunami in Japan: March 11, 2011
      Sun-Sentinel & Miami Herald snooze for hours as websites have ZERO on earthquake & tsunami in Japan as other sites move quickly...

      b.) reflective of The Herald's odd notions of Breaking News (with month-plus old stories) December 21, 2011
      Part 2 of More lumps of coal in the Christmas stocking of One Herald Plaza for another consistently lousy year of journalism at the Miami Herald, esp. covering Broward County

      c.) a World Series game, November 3, 2010
      The Miami Herald's dismal Pony Express-style coverage of The World Series -compared to the New York Times- is a bad omen for readers

      This is to say nothing, of course, of the Herald's worse-than-terrible coverage of both the important Broward County Charter Review Committee meetings over two years and the one-sided, hit-and-miss coverage of the Advisory Board meetings re a new Broward County Courthouse, which was stacked with supporters of the proposals who could not deal with it in a hands-off fashion, since it included influential people who owned land in the immediate area, inc. its Chair, then-Comm. Ilene Lieberman.

      The paper's refusal to really push hard to find out how the present Broward Courthouse was (seemingly) allowed to be neglected for so many years without anyone doing anything about it or being held responsible, was a scandal among people paying attention, as was their unwillngness to give any space to anyone who could take the County and the legal & judicial establishment to task.

      In the case of the CRC, the paper consistently failed to note that THE strongest opposition to allowing Broward County citizens even the opportunity to vote in a referendum on the Nov. 2010 ballot whether they wanted to have a County-elected Mayor was from women mayors and city commissioners, esp. from western Broward, who feared losing some of their power by having a County Govt. that actually held one ELECTED person responsible, not the pathetic musical chairs system that operates now that allows inattentive 3-year member Barbara Sharief to act like she's actually accomplished something by being selected by her fellow Commissioners.

      Those female municipal pols, who voted overwhelmingly on the CRC AGAINST placing that issue on the ballot for voters to decide, like things precisely the way they are now where they can play the angles on ethics and crony capitalism and dare someone like SAO Mike Satz to stop them, which is how they continuously get away with so much of the nonsense that has routinely taken place in Miramar, Cooper City, Hallandale Beach and Deerfield Beach.

      A county-wide elected Broward County mayor would, if they chose, be able to take Satz to task publicly for all of his self-evident failings the past ten years, but in comm. Sharief, we have someone who actually wants to weaken the present county ethics laws, esp. with respect to family & relatives.
      Exactly what the citizens and taxpayers of the state's fourth-largest county do NOT want: weaker ethics laws.

    3. Crime anything from Miami Beach, Downtown and Wynwood are rarely published before, during and after Art Basel. I've been keeping track for years. Every city should be required by law to submit crime data which can be publicly mapped. The local newspapers should take up that slack until then, unfortunately the Herald doesn't.

    4. One of the your best, most hard-hitting RANDOM PIXELS entries.

      I see from today's Doral Herald website, listed under "Breaking News," is a brief -- "NJ canine crowned world's ugliest dog in 2007 dies" -- that broke 2 days ago. And this is what the Doral Herald regards as "breaking news"? Pathetic.

    5. Doral Herald website lists "Miami Heat player robbed at restaurant; search on for two suspects" as "Breaking News." Story posted at 12:43 a.m., Tuesday.

      This, despite the fact that the story pertains to a crime that was committed on Sunday (2 DAYS BEFORE) and in which two of the four suspects were captured on Monday, (THE PREVIOUS DAY).

      ...Guess the Herald's 24/7 "information specialists" have been too doped up from the tryptophan in their Thanksgiving turkey leftovers to report that info any sooner.


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