Sunday, January 12, 2014

Bob Gabordi is America's worst newspaper editor

If you're a regular Random Pixels reader, then you know that I critique the Miami Herald from time to time.

And, on rare occasions, I sometimes employ a bit of hyperbole to make my points.

A recent example was when I called the Herald's two top editors, Mindy Marques and Rick Hirsch, "incompetent." And there was the time I characterized executive editor Mindy Marques as "America's worst newspaper editor."

I'm here to apologize to both Rick and Mindy.

Miami is fortunate to have both of you at the helm of the Miami Herald, South Florida's Number One Source for News and Information.

The reason I say that is because I believe I have found a person who is, in fact, America's Worst Newspaper Editor!

Bob Gabordi, executive editor,
Tallahassee Democrat.
Ladies and gentlemen, meet Bob Gabordi, executive editor of the Tallahassee Democrat.

One of my daily rituals is checking out the front pages of various newspapers at the Newseum's website.

Yesterday, while scanning some front pages of Florida's papers, I stumbled upon this: the Tallahassee Democrat's front page.

Tallahassee Democrat, Jan. 11, 2014. 

I've been visiting the Democrat's website for the past month or so.

And in that time I've reached one irrefutable conclusion: If you like journalism, but you're not necessarily a fan of a non-stop stream of insipid stories about the Seminoles - and you live in Tallahassee - you're screwed.

The Democrat's Saturday front page is incontrovertible proof of that.

Apparently the most important thing that happened in the state capital on Friday was that the crystal Coaches' trophy FSU got for its win over Auburn, went on display at "the Winn Dixie on South Magnolia Drive."

Not a Publix or a Whole Foods, mind you, but a Winn Dixie!

The shame!

Nevertheless, the Democrat's Sean Rossman was there to document all the excitement! 
Florida State football won the crystal Coaches’ Trophy Monday night in Pasadena, Calif. with its 34-31 win over Auburn.

Now the 34-inch tall, 45-pound trophy is on display in Tallahassee and fans got a live peek at the prize Friday afternoon at the Winn Dixie on South Magnolia Drive.

Hundreds of fans lined up outside the store to see the trophy, which gleamed near the seafood counter and among shoppers. Fans like 21-year-old Florida State junior Brianna Rodgers, still reeling from the big win, were able to get a picture with the 8-pound twinkling crystal ball. By day’s end, organizers said 2,800 people came by.

“It feels good,” she said
Rossman worked the crowd at the Winn Dixie, scribbling furiously as 'Noles fans, obviously overcome with emotion at seeing The Trophy right there next to the shrimp and scallops, offered up these nuggets:
When Kelvin Benjamin caught the game-winning touchdown, [Rodgers] threw her iPad and nearly broke down crying.

“It’s way bigger than I thought it was going to be,” she said of the crystal trophy.

Life-long FSU fan Tracy Harry stopped in to go shopping and was shocked to find her ’Noles’ trophy in the middle of the store.

“Oh my gosh, this is awesome,” Harry said. “Very exciting.”
Yes...that drivel actually made it to the front page of an American newspaper.

The Democrat's Bob Gabordi, in addition to being the paper's executive editor, is also the president of the Florida Society of News Editors.

That may not seem like a big deal.

But here's Gabordi, a professional journalist, acting as a shill sales manager for a book on the 'Noles' BCS championship season:
Orders were already being taken for the book and first shipments were expected to begin 24 to 48 hours later. To order a copy, go to It cost $24.95 for the hardcover and $14.95 for the softcover version. In all, 128 pages and more than 100 color photographs, plus columns and articles from the season. It is gorgeous and tells a great story of this special season.

And here's Gabordi talking about his favorite newspaper editor, Bob Gabordi:
I was editor of my college newspaper when I got to interview President Jimmy Carter, whose wife, Rosalynn Carter, was later my mentor in a Gannett management development program.

I’ve interviewed Bob Hope and Robert Redford and Hillary Clinton and Marco Rubio. Chad Pennington, former Marshall and New York Jets quarterback, interned at my newspaper in Huntington, W.Va. Heck, I’ve met Ronald Reagan and Willie Mays, for goodness sake.
And last November, shortly after the rape case against FSU quarterback Jameis Winston was reopened, Gabordi dropped any guise of journalistic impartiality by unashamedly declaring who he was rooting for.

In a Nov. 14 column Gabordi wrote: "Meanwhile, I’ll continue to cheer for Jameis Winston and the Seminoles and hope that he is cleared quickly and decisively."

Last Tuesday, the day after FSU's victory over Auburn, Gabordi ignored the long-standing tradition of keeping a newspaper's editorial and business departments separate, instructing his reporters to pitch in and take phone orders for the Tuesday edition of the Democrat.
The clerks out front couldn’t keep up. Two interns arriving for their first day of work were pressed into service. Then it went building-wide: Reporters, ad sales people, finance administrators began fielding phone calls, taking credit card numbers and processing orders for posters, newspapers and books.

(Award-winning investigative reporter Jennifer Portman was the leader in the newsroom, evincing a natural gift for salesmanship that suggested her salad days included a turn as telemarketing specialist, though she denies it.)
The onslaught continued all week. Even on Friday, you could find two to three people in line when you ventured into the lobby.
What the writer of that piece - Democrat senior writer Gerald Ensley - didn't mention is that maybe the "onslaught" of people who came through the Democrat's front door on Tuesday, did so because they don't get the paper delivered at home.

And who can blame them?

The Tallahassee Democrat under Bob Gabordi's leadership, may not be the worst paper in the country, but it damn sure is the poorest excuse for a newspaper in the state of Florida.

However, I'm reminded that even a broken clock is right twice a day.

Last year, under Gabordi's leadership, the Democrat published a series of stories about police brutality in the Tallahassee Police Department that forced the police chief out and prompted a grand jury investigation.

In a column, Gabordi said a scrap of video of officers arresting a 44-year-old woman last August on a DUI charge was difficult to watch, and so upset him that he couldn't eat lunch. That set the tone for all the rest of the Democrat's coverage and editorials.

Ultimately, the Leon County grand jury ended up taking no action.


  1. You're obviously not a football fan. :-)

    In all seriousness, though, this is a GREAT column! Loved it!

  2. That's how the Democrat has always been, as far as I can tell. I remember when I was a student at FSU in the early 1990s: for the entire week leading up to a game against Miami (don't remember which year), the front page had a story previewing some angle of the game - and above the fold, no less, back when that meant something.


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