Tuesday, September 22, 2015

A Miami Herald staffer responds to Roy Black's criticisms of the paper

Miami Herald employees pose in front of One Herald Plaza, circa 2003.
Click here to enlarge.

Roy Black loves reading newspapers.

Roy Black
Over the weekend the famed criminal defense attorney shared that bit of information with his Facebook friends and followers. Black also let it be known that he wasn't happy with the new look the Miami Herald unveiled last week. "The paper as I knew it for the past few decades has passed away. I will mourn its demise," wrote Black.

More than a few in the Herald newsroom read Black's rant and commented on a Facebook page frequented by current and former Herald staffers.

Yesterday, a current Herald staffer penned a rebuttal to Black's rant that somehow made its way into my inbox.

To local attorney Roy Black and the others who are crying crocodile tears "mourning" the death of the Miami Herald:

Congratulations to you. You have uncovered the Herald's dirty little secret: We are not particularly well. We have hemorrahged staff, and now we are cutting off newspaper body parts to meet our budget. Worse, you say, newspaper leadership is doing what all other corporate leaders do. They are telling you the patient could not be healthier, despite that gaunt, sunken look you have observed with your own eyes.

But here is what you also know, and choose to ignore, while you blast away at that fish in the barrel: Nobody at the Herald woke up one morning and decided it would be a good idea to move to a warehouse in Doral. Nobody at the Herald thought it made sense to lay off most of the paper's reporters and copy editors. Nobody chose to dismember the print edition. Nobody wants to watch helplessly while the institution we've loved suffers and dies.

Mr. Black, all the retired Herald people who are trashing us on Facebook, and everyone else who claims to care about quality local journalism in Miami: Your sadness and outrage won't eliminate that $1 billion debt that hangs over our corporate owners like an albatross. Your sadness and outrage won't cause those corporate owners to reorganize the company so that the newspapers have a fighting chance -- though at the expense of their million-dollar bonuses.

If you care about local accountability, if you care about the quality journalism you are mourning -- if you care about any of it -- dig into your own pockets and buy us. But only if you also believe in editorial independence. Otherwise, all your whining is just so much noise.

After reading the rebuttal, one former Herald staffer sent me a few thoughts:
"It is unbecoming for news people - who regularly explore the failings of other institutions - to whine when others detect failings in their institutions.

"Why are they so sensitive and defensive? No one has taken a shot at the rank and file there - no one. Everyone who ever worked there knows that it's primarily corporate's fault. The critics and what's left of the newsroom are actually all on the same side, trying to get the same message to corporate."

Miami Herald employees in front of the paper's
Doral headquarters in 2013. (Click here to enlarge)

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