Tuesday, January 28, 2014

When the Herald gets it right

One of my Facebook friends sent me this message the other day: "Do you ever say anything positive about the Herald??"

As a matter of fact, I do.

Here are some Miami Herald stories that I like a lot.


In a story posted on the Herald's website Monday, Chuck Rabin and Carli Teproff examine the sad case of Alexandre Nicolas, the 20 year-old man who was pulled over by police this past weekend for allegedly driving a stolen car.

Cops got him out of the car and handcuffed him. It was then, Rabin and Teproff write, that he "sprinted across at least eight lanes of busy traffic on Biscayne Boulevard, leaped into a canal on the west side of the road, and drowned."

One TV station covered the story with three sentences and about a minute of video tape.

Rabin and Teproff dig a little deeper:
Nicolle Garcia knew Nicolas well. The Florida Atlantic University communications student said she would have had a hard time turning down Nicolas’ request to attend the high school prom with him.

First, he posted a sweet, breezy and jazzy three-minute video of himself playing piano and singing a song to her titled The Proposal. The video was recorded in the high school auditorium. He asked her a second time over the school’s intercom system. The third successful attempt occurred when Nicolas interrupted Garcia’s biology class to ask her out, even as kids video taped the romance on their cell phones.

“That’s when I said yes,” Garcia said.

After graduating in 2012, the two drifted apart, running into each other occasionally. Garcia said she spotted Nicolas from a distance at Aventura Mall last week.

“Now I regret not going over,” she said.

Click here to read the complete story.


Herald columnist Fred Grimm joined the paper in 1976, and he's proof that old guys do it better. I can't recall Grimm ever writing a boring or poorly reported column.

In a column in this morning's paper, Grimm follows up on Patricia Mazzei's in-depth look at Miami-Dade's Third World taxi industry.
No one’s very optimistic that the county’s taxi industry might be forced to enter the 21st Century. That notion took a beating last fall when commissioners veered off from talk about deregulating the taxi industry and initiated a serious discussion about the merits of adopting used Ford Crown Victorias, even discarded police cruisers, for use as Miami-Dade taxicabs.

Ford stopped manufacturing Crown Vics back in 2011. Ancient Crown Vics, with “check engine” lights permanently illuminated, make a peculiar first impression for a community that wants to convince visitors they’ve just entered a modern, hip, shiny, high-tech metropolis.

Click here to read Grimm's column in its entirety.


My favorite kind of newspaper story is one that tells me something I didn't know.

Cammy Clark's page one story in Monday's paper is that kind of story.

Clark is the Herald's Florida Keys Bureau Chief.

What that really means is that she gets to do it all: write the stories, shoot the photos to go with her story, and on occasion, also shoot some video.

In a story that's currently the most popular on the Herald's website - and one that's generated some 160 comments - Clark writes about Big Pine Key resident and gun owner Doug Varrieur, a man who has turned the yard of his home into a makeshift firing range,

Is that legal? Turns out it's totally legal.
Last month, another frightening situation in Miami, in which he feared being carjacked while pumping gas, led him to purchase two new Smith and Wesson Bodyguard 380s, small-caliber guns with integrated lasers. One is for his wife, who has poor eyesight. Varrieur believes a gun with a laser will offer her more protection.

When the guns arrived, he reasoned he needed to find a place to shoot them in the Keys to calibrate the lasers.

“I was complaining to my gun shop owner that the nearest range from here is in Big Coppitt Key, which is 50 miles round trip, costs $45 an hour and is enclosed in a building with people shooting around you that you don’t know,” Varrieur said. “I told him in North Carolina, I could just go out to the gun range in my yard and fire my weapons, and it’s too bad you can’t do that in Florida, too.”

The gun shop owner told him that there were “rumors” that you could. It didn’t take Varrieur long to look up Florida statute 790.15, and he was surprised by what he found.

“I said to my wife: ‘Do you know the only rules to discharging firearms on residential property are that you can’t fire over a right-of-way of any paved public road, highway or street, you can’t fire over any occupied dwelling and you can’t fire recklessly or negligently?’ ” Varrieur said. “That’s it.”

Until 2011, the statute didn’t even include the part about firing “recklessly or negligently.” Exactly what that means, no one knows for sure. Patrick McCullah, general counsel for the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office, said that at this point there is no case law at the appellate level that has interpreted the terms “recklessly or negligently” in the statute.

But what I really like about Clark's story, is that she took the time to shoot some video to go with her piece.

Video: Big Pine Key homeowner has gun range in his yard, and it's totally legal.

Click here to read the complete story.

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