Monday, December 05, 2016

This is what real journalism looks like


Local TV stations spend millions of dollars a year to bring you the news. Or what they like to call "the news." But in fact, the stuff they produce bears almost no resemblance to actual journalism.

A better name for what appears on local TV news these days would be "crime scene porn." 

This may be considered "news" by some, but it's not "journalism."
(Click image to enlarge)

Those same stations also spend tens of thousands of dollars a month putting helicopters in the air that beam back live pictures of a car chase or a bunch of police cars at a crime scene, red and blue lights flashing.

But there's very little information contained in a shot of a crime scene taken from a camera a thousand feet in the air that helps a viewer better understand the story. 

But while most local TV news consists of non-stop coverage of shootings, car crashes and stories showing surveillance videos of convenience store robberies, and more shootings, it's reassuring to know that there are still places you can find real old-fashioned journalism...stories that actually impact your life. 

Want proof?

 Look no further than Sunday morning's South Florida Sun-Sentinel and Miami Herald for just two stories that didn't require the use of a helicopter. 

South Florida Sun-Sentinel, Dec. 4, 2016.
Click image to enlarge.
Inmates died, but jail logs showed them safe in their cells
By Stephen Hobbs

If Broward Sheriff's Office records are to be believed, a mentally ill jail inmate was alive in his cell 18 hours after he died and another received dinner six hours after he hanged himself.

Documents obtained by the Sun Sentinel raise questions about the accuracy of Sheriff's Office records and how closely some mentally ill inmates were monitored before they died.

Inmate Raleigh Priester died soon after collapsing in his cell about 12:45 p.m. on July 10, 2012. Though he was rushed to the hospital, deputies continued to document, about every 30 minutes and until 8 a.m. the following morning, that he was alive and inside his cell at the North Broward jail.

"I think it's very difficult to explain how several of your employees are claiming that they were checking on somebody at 30-minute intervals when that individual was not in your facility," said Greg Lauer, a Fort Lauderdale attorney who represented Priester's family in a federal lawsuit over his care in jail.

Turning code violations into payoffs, the Opa-locka way
By Michael Sallah and Jay Weaver
Miami Herald staff writers

His life savings poured into his struggling business, Francisco Pujol stood in the bathroom at Opa-locka City Hall in February and turned to the lone man who could make his problems disappear.

With every cash payment to the city manager, Pujol was guaranteed he would get the occupational license that he needed to finally open.

Already, David Chiverton had dismissed dozens of code violations on the property where Pujol had set up his sprawling tire recycling center.

Now, for $2,500 — all in large bills — he would do it again.

More recent examples of journalism from around the state:

Via the Palm Beach Post: HEROIN: Killer of a generation
Former assistant state attorney, potential star is lost to epidemic
By Joe Capozzi - Palm Beach Post Staff Writer

Jessica Rose had the credentials of a rising courtroom star: a lawyer with the Palm Beach County State Attorney’s Office, an assistant public defender in Jacksonville, a private practice on Clematis Street.

A young attorney brimming with talent and promise, she also struggled with an addiction to drugs, a battle that shattered her career, scarred her family and ultimately took her life.

Via the Miami Herald:
After Florida inmate’s lethal gassing, claims of cover-up
By Julie K. Brown

Randall Jordan-Aparo died weeping and gasping for breath on the concrete floor of his prison isolation cell, naked except for his white boxer shorts.

Incensed that he had cursed at a nurse, guards at Franklin Correctional Institution in the Panhandle fired nine blasts of noxious gas into his 13-by-8 cell through a slot in the door and, ultimately, left him there, sobbing.

“I can’t breathe, I can’t take it no more, please help me,’’ he pleaded.

Five hours later, the 27-year-old was found lifeless, face-down on the bare slab. His mouth and nose were pressed to the bottom of the door, as if trying to gulp fresh air through the thin crack. His hair, legs, toes, torso and mouth were dusted with a faint orange residue, a byproduct of the gas.

A paperback Bible was under his shoulder.

Via the Tampa Bay Times:
WALMART - Thousands of police calls. You pay the bill.

Police come to shoo away panhandlers, referee parking disputes and check on foul-mouthed teenagers.

They are called to arrest the man who drinks a 98-cent iced tea without paying and capture the customer who joyrides on a motorized shopping cart.

The calls eat up hours of officers’ time. They all start at one place: Walmart.

Law enforcement logged nearly 16,800 calls in one year to Walmarts in Pinellas, Hillsborough, Pasco and Hernando counties, according to a Tampa Bay Times analysis. That’s two calls an hour, every hour, every day.

Local Walmarts, on average, generated four times as many calls as nearby Targets, the Times found. Many individual supercenters attracted more calls than the much larger WestShore Plaza mall.

When it comes to calling the cops, Walmart is such an outlier compared with its competitors that experts criticized the corporate giant for shifting too much of its security burden onto taxpayers. Several local law enforcement officers also emphasized that all the hours spent at Walmart cut into how often they can patrol other neighborhoods and prevent other crimes.

“They’re a huge problem in terms of the amount of time that’s spent there,” said Tampa police Officer James Smith, who specializes in retail crime. “We are, as a department, at the mercy of what they want to do.”

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