This is the follow-up email sent yesterday in a recent series to Miami Herald President and Publisher David Landsberg, with cc's once again to Herald executive editor Aminda Marques and managing editor Rick Hirsch, plus the same discerning elected officials and activists in Broward County -with a few more thrown in for good measure- regarding the Herald's continuing unsatisfactory news coverage of Broward County, which so often is either invisible when it should be anything but, or obtuse and condescending when it should be penetrating and hard-hitting.
Neither is acceptable.
Neither is acceptable.
I also detail some thoughts and suggestions about rapidly changing the dynamic there, using examples at the Washington Post and Aftonbladet, before, like the Titanic almost 100 years ago come April, the McClatchy-owned Herald hits the iceberg and goes under.
Be assured, time is NOT on Mr. Landsberg's side.
December 20th, 2011
Dear Mr. Landsberg:
A follow-up to my email of last week, owing to the fact that last night, I once again saw yet another one of the glaring longstanding problems at the newspaper you run, and not for the first or even second time.
Just as I've already written about previously a few times on my blog when the Herald ran a multi-weeks old story about Donald Trump in the "Breaking News" section, this is what appeared on the Herald's Broward homepage
December 19th at 11:21 p.m. under "Breaking News"
Teen becomes Deerfield Beach school’s Santa Claus
Forfeits cost Boyd Anderson district title
Boca’s Lynn University to host final presidential debate of 2012
K-9 injured in Plantation crash to be released from hospital
BSO plans to stop dispatching Fort Lauderdale 911 calls
Former Broward sheriff Nick Navarro dies
Blackout of Miami Dolphins game averted
Teen boys charged with friend's murder expected in court » More
Just a few minutes of investigating reveals that of the so-called eight "Breaking News" stories, the most recent one is from two weeks ago, and only half were written by Herald reporters.
These articles, whatever else they may be, are nobody's reasonable idea of "Breaking News" in Broward County.
Story #1, Teen becomes Deerfield Beach school’s Santa Claus, is from December 8, 2011, and was written by Alysha Khan
Story #2, Forfeits cost Boyd Anderson district title, is from November 8, 2011, and
was written by Andre C. Fernandez and Manny Navarro
Story #3, Boca’s Lynn University to host final presidential debate of 2012, is from
October 31, 2011 and was written by "Miami Herald Staff"
Story #4, K-9 injured in Plantation crash to be released from hospital, is from October 10, 2011 and was written by Linda Trischitta of the Sun-Sentinel
Story #5, BSO plans to stop dispatching Fort Lauderdale 911 calls, is from September 30, 2011 and was written by Scott Wyman when he was still with the Sun-Sentinel.
Story #6, Former Broward sheriff Nick Navarro dies, is from September 29, 2011, and was written by Michael Vasquez.
Story #7, Blackout of Miami Dolphins game averted, is from September 15th, 2011
and was written by Craig Davis of the Sun-Sentinel
Story #8, Teen boys charged with friend's murder expected in court, is from August 17, 2011, and was written by Sonia Isger and Alexandra Seltzerof the Palm Beach Post
In short, Mr. Landsberg, nothing remotely resembling LIVE, LOCAL and Late-Breaking...
And the Herald still hasn't written anything in print or online about the new Broward County redistricting map voted upon last Tuesday by the County Commission, which in large part prompted that email of mine to you in the first place, even though I'd been thinking about sending you something for well over a year.
Yet not surprisingly, there was something online by Martha Brannigan about Miami-Dade's new map the same day, yesterday, at 7:24 p.m.
But almost exactly a week after the redistricting vote here in Broward County, NADA about the same issue, affecting roughly 40-45% of this media market's population?
This gets to my -and other's- longstanding contention that more than is either logical or reasonable, far too much of the Herald's reporting is based on geography, NOT actual news value or impact.
That is to say, geographical proximity to you and your HQ on Biscayne Bay.
Witness the embarrassing debacle in March with the earthquake and tsunami in Japan, and how abysmally slow the Herald (and Sun-Sentinel) was to wake-up hours after-the-fact, which I wrote about here:
Mr. Landsberg, I wasn't joking about what I said to you in my email last Friday about hoping
that you were busy working on that "plan" to change the dynamics of both the Herald's physical copy and the website, because if I can notice all this within just a few minutes of looking at the Herald's poorly-designed website, so heavy with ads at the top and right column, imagine what I would find if...
Look at the DAILY measures the Washington Post goes to get its execs, editors, reporters, columnists and bloggers in front of the public in their community -where I lived for 15 years- so that they are more than a little aware of what's going on in the minds of their savvy readers, esp. what's bothering them, via community forums and their very popular LIVE online chats.
Chats that I've even participated in myself and which have readable transcripts archived on their website, making them great resources.
Not that you're probably aware of it, but consider what the largest national daily in Sweden
-Aftonbladet- based in Stockholm, did when they wanted to think outside-the-box.
I eagerly read their website everyday and can tell you that they created a place on their own website where they challenged their readers and critics to look at what their tentative plans were for re-designing the site, a tabloid-sized paper that in many ways largely sets the daily conversations and talking points that will take place that day in offices, homes, schools, trains and coffee shops across the country.
And they dared their readers to improve upon their own plans.
Now anyone can dare someone, but what they did was actually put something on their website that gave readers a means to show management -and Aftonbladet's 2.5 million daily readers- what their suggested 'better mousetrap' looked like.
See Hur skulle du bygga om aftonbladet.se?
So tell me, Mr, Landsberg, what's wrong with letting the best ideas win in Miami?
Sometime on Thursday afternoon, unless something else comes up that prevents it, I'll be posting to my blog just some of the valid criticisms of you and your management team, editors and reporters that I and other well-informed Herald readers I know are painfully aware of, as well as mention stories that you all have either foolishly ignored, given short-shrift to, or otherwise marginalized for inexplicable reasons.
The logical result of that attitude at One Herald Plaza was giving the South Florida public -especially the readers in Broward County, my friends and neighbors- considerably LESSA LOT less.
than what they were reasonably entitled to expect from the Herald in the year 2011.
The Donald Trump-related blog posts of mine that I reference above, in describing Herald management's longstanding unawareness that they have been and continue to describe stories as Breaking News on their awful website when they are, in fact, old stories -which I meant to link to in the email but forgot to!- are described here:
July 21, 2011, Miami Herald grave robbers at it again! Herald's threadbare Broward homepage runs 15-day old story as Breaking News to fill-up space!, http://hallandalebeachblog.blogspot.com/2011/07/miami-herald-grave-robbers-at-it-again.html
I can't emphasize enough that if you care about the interplay of journalism, technology, innovation and the 21st Century news media, you are making a big mistake if you don't subscribe to The Monday Note newsletter edited by Frédéric Filloux.
In its own way, it's consistently interesting and amazing in the same ways that the late and much-missed manhattan, inc. magazine and Spy were, both magazines that I was a charter subscriber to when I lived in Chicago and Evanston in the mid-'80's, and which I devoured from cover-to-cover upon arrival in my mailbox because of their consistent quality writing and insight.
Oh for those days of penetrating stories on the people and personalities behind LBO and hostile takeovers and "short-fingered vulgarians.")
I actually reference The Monday Note above in the paragraphs about what was going on this year in redesigning Aftonbladet. http://www.aftonbladet.se/
Unless something crazy happens between now and then, always possible when you live South Florida, I will be posting those promised examples of Herald nonfeasance and journalistic apathy from above, tomorrow afternoon.
Trust me, just like Santa Claus, I've been keeping track of who's been bad.