I guess I hardly need mention to anyone living in South Florida that the prices posted on this vending machine haven't been accurate for quite some time, but then the Miami Herald management's foolish insistence in the recent past that only charging Broward readers a quarter, while already charging fifty cents in Miami-Dade, would get them more readers and eyeballs on their ads, never made any sense either, though from a distance, it might've sounded good in theory.
Say from Sacramento, Calif., the home of McClatchy Company, which owns the Herald.
Even their own reporters and columnists knew this, as prior to their finally charging the same amount in both counties, it would've been rare for any phone conversation I had with a Herald reporter or columnist to end without them bringing the subject up, which told me in no uncertain terms that it was clearly a sore subject.
For the better part of the 14 years I lived in suburban Washington, D.C., in Arlington, VA, and caught the Metro train into downtown Washington for work during the week, whether from the Clarendon Metro station or the Ballston station, I happily paid fifty cents for the Baltimore Sun from a vending machine on my way down into the station -since the 1990's- while paying less for the Washington Post, because it was a very smart, well-written and well-edited newspaper.
The Sun, a newspaper I first read as a kid in North Miami Beach while growing-up a devout Orioles fan, is not what it once was, owing to a lot of curious moves made by parent Tribune Company, but on any given day, it's still usually much better than the Herald and the Tribune-owned Sun-Sentinel combined, and was well worth the price.
People in South Florida, especially serious people, will always be willing to pay more for quality, but they want to see it first.
That quality they seek is seldom if ever seen in the current version of the Miami Herald.
So what's the plan for the Herald's future, if any?
Back on September 18th, I emailed the following thoughts of mine, most of which were written while once again exasperated by what kind of product the Herald was producing.
I sent it to a couple of dozen or so of the usual well-informed, media-centric folks I know in Florida and around the country who get my observations before I usually share them here with you all later in the day, often after getting insightful comments, corrections or head's ups from them about related (or worse) MSM screw-ups closer to them geographically.
In light of what I wrote here on November 3rd about the Herald's truly dreadful coverage of the recent Giants-Rangers World Series, that is, their mentioning NOTHING about Game 2 the following day, on a Friday morning, while the South Florida edition of the New York Times, printed up in Deerfield Beach, 25 miles north of me, had a page-and-a-half of stories and columns, plus nice photos and box score info.
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
The following email is also in that vein, and all came together one particularly frustrating day about nine weeks ago, when I was checking the Herald's website for some information and noticed something quite troubling, which was not good news for either Herald readers or serious-minded people in South Florida who continue to ponder this simple question:
What's going on at One Herald Plaza?
The Miami Herald's staff finally smells the coffee.
But is it too late?
Back on Sept. 1st, I sent an email to Edward Schumacher-Matos, the Herald's Ombudsman (the one without either a blog or a weekly column, but rather some once-in-a-while thing) because that was the day where an armed intrusion took place at the Discovery Channel HQ in suburban D.C. -a Maryland building I've been in dozens of times- yet it took the Herald hours to put something about it online.
This, even while a nice but not great photo of actress January Jones of Mad Men fame remained online just below the masthead for hours, while nothing about the story up in Silver Spring, being shown on LIVE TV for hours on the cablenets, was there.
It was just the latest in a VERY long line of jaw-dropping and galling editorial and content decisions at the Herald in the recent past that befuddle the Herald's dwindling number of readers.
In fact, I was so dismayed that I actually wrote Hallandale Beach Blog fave, Alan D. Mutter, creator of Reflections of a Newsosaur blog fame, and mentioned here often,
http://newsosaur.blogspot.com/ and asked him -only half-jokingly- if there was any chance that one of his savvy Venture Capital friends in Silicon Valley might want to reinvent themselves, and play the role of a media mogul, and perhaps take the Herald off of McClatchy's hands?
I even told him, "Trust me, the concerned and conscientious people in South Florida would've be very much indebted!"
Sadly, Alan replied that he didn't know of such a person.
But then I presumed that such a person even exists, oui?
Date: Wed, Sep 1, 2010 at 4:52 PM
Subject: Surprise! Takes over THREE HOURS for Herald website to mention hostage drama at Discovery Channel HQ in Silver Spring. Sleeping on the job, Just like Herald's Broward coverage!
To: Edward Schumacher-Matos
September 1st, 2010
Dear Mr. Schumacher-Matos:
Nothing in this email is about the Herald's spotty coverage of Broward County in general or Hallandale Beach, and to a less degree, of Hollywood, in particular.
The paper's unsatisfactory coverage of them is what is is.
Did you know that there are media sites overseas that have had something about this hostage story for a while now, yet the Herald has nothing almost three hours later but STILL has prime space at the top for
New fashion collectionThey're cute girls and all and I get their appeal, but why has the paper completely
OD'd on them?
You should have one of the Herald's interns check and see how many times in the past six months there hasn't been something about them in the Herald.
Or how many times, since she was hired two years ago, Myriam Marquez has written anything at all about something going on in Broward County or of particular interest to readers there.
Trust me, it won't be pretty.
In fact, it will be grim.
Consider that your Sunday public policy section, Issues & Ideas, did not have the word "Broward" in it anywhere.
Or any story or column about some issue, personality or idea of particular relevance in Broward
For at least the second week in a row.
Do you know how many times THAT fact pattern has been true this year?
I did, I really did, but I stopped counting because it was so disturbing.
The other day, in reference to the glacial and practically non-existent coverage of the Broward School Board races last Tuesday, and their lack of updates online, I compared the Herald's pace to the Pony Express on my blog.
In retrospect, I might've been exaggerating, but not quite in the way you might imagine.
In a day or so, I'm going to show that a careful analysis of Herald stories since last year's approval of the Marlins Stadium by the M-D County Commission, 5 of the 9 commissioners who approved it never had a story written about them in the ensuing 14 months that ever said anything at all about them and their vote on the stadium's financing, or any possible second-guessing or doubts from constituents.
That explains a lot.
Like why the paper was beaten soundly by a website on the stadium financing story due to a leak.
If someone with that info had tried to give the info to the Herald, unless they immediately got savvy reporters Matthew Haggman and Charles Rabin on the phone, unlikely, do you know what the Herald reporters and editors would've said or done?
The same response that Herald readers in South Florida routinely get from reporters and editors, like Beth Reinhard, Jay Ducassi and dozens of others when they contact them.
Those Herald employees first response is to call other people rather than call you back or return your emails about solid news you know or possess, even when you have photos that corroborate everything you say.
I know this first-hand and so do many other people I know who closely follow what goes on in Broward County and South Florida.
And guess what, the Herald daily shows that lack of context or understanding of the area they purport to cover, which is why so many readers constantly complain that the Herald's local news and govt. stories have an unusually high degree of fact and context problems, and are usually more notable for what is left out, often the most important aspect of why something happened -or didn't.
But unless you are there in person, like I am so often, you wouldn't know anything about it.
Seriously, when are we going to see the positive changes the Herald needs to make it viable and engaged?
What's the plan?
Not the silly one that got in print a few months ago, but a real plan that actually benefits readers who want real news?
The Herald's current plan of ignoring news because it's not in Coral Gables, Doral, Miami or Miami Beach is NOT working and is repelling readers from both the physical paper and the website, for reasons like why I wrote this in the first place: sleeping on the job!
From my perspective, the ship is still listing and there are NO ships around to rescue any survivors, if any.
I will leave to another day the confounding situation with reporter Alfonso Chardy and why his disingenuous professional behavior is allowed to continue apace, like nobody really noticed what he did a few weeks ago, blatantly lying to Herald readers in a news story.
But notice we did.
Not just me, but full-time print and TV reporters from around the state.
I know that because they contacted me to tell me they noticed, too.
And those are facts.
(About an hour later, after some website magic happened, I added.)
P.S. Congrats! It only took over three hours and continuous coverage on the TV cablenets for someone at the Herald to finally post something online. I can only imagine how things will be in the future when some blogger scoops the Herald that Fidel Castro is dead.
Well, as you might imagine, despite having exchanged cordial emails with him in the past, I never heard back from the Ombudsman, whose email address I have since deleted from my computer, since really, what's the point?
If the Herald's current and recent management care so little about their own readers that Schumacher-Matos lacks the tools or frequency he needs to be taken seriously by Herald readers, the sorts of things other large newspapers provide -and the facts clearly show they do- why continue to kid myself and think my emails to him will accomplish anything other than temporarily venting some of my dismay?
Which is why many of the past emails I've penned to him over the years but never actually sent, keeping in DRAFT instead, will be now be revisited here on the blog when similar situations occur in the future at the newspaper, as they inevitably will, since the Herald keeps making the same mistakes over-and-over.
They won't stop digging the hole they're in.
To use an image that I've often used here in the past, their behavior is akin to a dog chasing-its- tail -initially amusing, but ultimately, fruitless and irritating.
Like many current network TV programs.
I forgot to mention above in my prologue that in my second email to my media-centric pals, friends and acquaintances here in Florida and around the country, I also sent them a link to Bob Norman's spot-on Daily Pulp post of Sept. 17th about the greatly rising frustration level of the Herald's own employees.
It's so good, I have it here and urge you to read the entire thing, including the reader comments, whose frustration with the newspaper and its management is clear .
Herald Reporters to Management: Stop Mimicking Twitter and Focus on Serious Journalism
Friday, September 17 2010 @ 5:57PM
The following letter appeared yesterday on the Miami Herald's internal memo board, Readme. Signed by numerous veteran reporters and editors, it was posted the same day 49 more layoffs were announced at the depleted newspaper.
Read the rest of the post at:
OUR HOPES FOR A BETTER HERALD:
So, it's Saturday night, and you want to hear live music. Among your choices: going to the Hard Rock Cafe to hear Shakira (or Seal or Ringo Starr or Reba McIntyre); or going to a bar with an open mike. At the Hard Rock, you'll hear a polished, professional artist.
At open mike night, you'll probably hear people with day jobs singing Sweet Caroline ... perhaps lustily, probably off key.
Nothing intrinsically wrong with that open mike bar. But we'll bet most people, with
the ability to choose, would go hear the pro.
The Miami Herald, we would argue, is becoming the newspaper equivalent of open mike night. Or a flea market.
There are 177 reader comments!
See also McClatchy Watch on Twitter:
McClatchy Watch website, while defunct since before last Christmas, is still online: