Hallandale Beach Blog -A common sense public policy overview offering a critical perspective on the current events, politics, govt., public policy, sports scene and pop culture of the U.S., South Florida, Europe and Sweden. In particular, Broward & Miami-Dade County, and the cities of Hallandale Beach, Hollywood & Aventura.
Trust me when I tell you, this part of Florida is NOT the Land of Lincoln. Pictured in upper-left is Hallandale Beach's iconic beachball-colored Water Tower on State Road A1A; September 2008 photo by me, South Beach Hoosier. © 2013 Hallandale Beach Blog, All Rights Reserved.

Monday, November 19, 2012

S.O.S.! Newspaper hits iceberg! What's going on at the Tribune Co.'s sinking South Florida Sun-Sentinel? Their continued poor judgment, even as the newspaper -and its shrinking base of advertisers- are becoming increasingly irrelevant to news consumers in Broward County who want their news free of bias, taint AND mustiness, not facts and context, has real consequences



S.O.S.! Newspaper hits iceberg! What's going on at the Tribune Co.'s sinking South Florida Sun-Sentinel? 
Their continued poor judgment, even as the newspaper -and its shrinking base of advertisers- are becoming increasingly irrelevant to news consumers in Broward County who want their news free of bias, taint AND mustiness, not facts and context, has real consequences.
Its pay wall is like a parasite that's killing off the host, and making its formerly-popular Broward Politics blog now nothing more than an afterthought because it counts now as an article in monthly totals, not as a blog post. A newspaper website that needs SERIOUS rethinking and redesign.

You call that news coverage? 

1.) As of today, November 19th, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel's education blog, South Florida Schools, has posted exactly one item in the past 6 weeks. Way to keep your nose to the grindstone! http://weblogs.sun-sentinel.com/educationblog/

Yes, even while all sorts of things, good and bad, have been going on in that subject area the past six weeks, that newspaper blog has been silent.
It's one thing for a personal blog to go quiet for awhile for reasons that we can all well imagine, but really, a newspaper blog that posts one thing in six weeks, wrapped around an election?

Good luck finding that sort of situation existing at a normal, well-run newspaper unless the person/team behind it are either gravely ill, been transferred to other beats or the blog itself is being phased out.
Which is it for South Florida Schools?

I don't know the particulars of it, but I do know that it sure doesn't look good.
Especially for customers who want to read more serious and in-depth coverage of the subject, just as they would expect to find more in-depth coverage in a sports team-related blog, not just read PR releases.

Does a Broward School Board employee trying to choke an autistic child on a Broward School bus count as news these days?
Is that a subject that would greatly benefit from the infinite amount of space a blog gives a reporter to provide a lot more context than a print newspaper article affords, and even allow some degree of reader interaction?
We'd all agree that the answer to both is yes, so why is there NOTHING like that at the one place that you should be able to count on finding it on the Sun-Sentinel's website?
Now there's a question!

Not only are there no video interviews on that blog with any of the newly-elected Broward School Board members who won 13 days ago, candidates who were all elected to some degree based upon on what they said they hoped to do to change the still-extant culture of corruption there, and make the system more accountable to taxpayers, parents and students, but there's not even a single written blog post about that subject.

And since there's NOT even that, the bare minimum one should reasonably expect if it were being run professionally and with any common sense, of course there's NOT anything there about why those particular new members may or may not succeed in their desirable goal, based on their own backgrounds and professional experiences.
Nice job!

2.) On Friday Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz's resident lapdog at the newspaper, Anthony Man, posted his most recent entirely-predictable, not-really-news re DWS that he wrote in all of about five seconds at the Sun-Sentinel's Broward Politics blog.
No, actually it was just the intro to a video of her.

Yes, another in a long line of DWS-related posts by Man that the Sun-Sentinel runs that fall squarely into the dog-bites-man category.
Yet another piece on her NOT showing party independence or actually going out on a limb or even showing some perspective or original insight that you never considered before.

Hey, guess what?
DWS supports Israel -STILL.
Snooze...

And speaking of not surprising, Man doesn't even publicly mention in his intro that the video he chooses to run is actually from her office. Typical.
http://www.youtube.com/user/RepWassermanSchultz/

Wasserman Schultz condemns Hamas rocket attacks on Israel
http://www.sun-sentinel.com/news/broward/broward-politics-blog/sfl-wasserman-schultz-hamas-israel-20121116,0,6429879.story

Notice anything else about that blog post now?
Correct, the Broword Politics blog has recently been moved to behind the Sun-Sentinel's (unsuccessful) pay wall.

Which means that for many people throughout South Florida, including civic activists, concerned citizens and bloggers I know and trust, as well as other members of the South Florida press corps, that blog has largely become even more irrelevant than before, and is now an actual afterthought.

As if the Broward Politics blog's lack of freshness, topicality and outside-the-box thinking on any subject involving county or municipal government, or the pols who inhabit it, weren't already hindrance enough the past few years.

If the Sun-Sentinel's management were really going to make a mistake like that and move a popular feature like that blog behind a pay wall, one of the few features that people I know actually read fairly consistently, couldn't the Sun-Sentinel's management team at least have had the good sense to bring in some new people -with fresh eyes- at the beginning of this year?

In my opinion, having entirely new reporters there, people who'd actually ADD something new to the rather static and staid view of this county that that blog has promoted for so many years, where, typically, almost as soon as someone's name comes up in a piece, you already know what's going to come -and you're almost always right- would end.

How great would it be for readers to actually have the sense that the newspaper was amping-up their reporting and resources towards the election, perhaps starting this year off with some blistering expose or analysis of something that doesn't appear in the print edition?
An actual online exclusive, just like what other media companies do to drive eyeballs?

Something that showed readers some much-needed energy and freshness there, and an implicit warning that that the predictable habits that we've all observed there for far too long, will soon be disappearing -quick!

Yes, as I've watched the Sun-Sentinel increasingly become disconnected from reality and even unaware of many local news stories that they ought to be owning but aren't, it's become
increasingly apparent to me that the very people who are running that newspaper (into the ground) often appear, publicly at least, to have very little real idea of how other newspapers, even smaller ones, actually make their own blogs more interesting and compelling to readers, visually and content-wise.

I know they are aware of it, so why isn't that knowledge and understanding filtering down and actually showing up in print and online with better-written blogs and better and more original content at the Sun-Sentinel?

It's not exactly Breaking News that there are many well-written and compelling non-political blogs that I subscribe to or bookmark which are part of the New York Times and The Washingon Post, and that's largely because when I lived in the Washington area from 1988-2003, I used to religiously read both newspapers daily from cover-to-cover.

And once both newspapers had online presences, I read content there, too, so I remember the blogs they created that didn't quite work out as planned, as well as the ones that have remained steadfast and only grown in popularity over the years, like the very popular technology blog written by David Pogue, which has changed titles a few times, and now even comes with videos. http://pogue.blogs.nytimes.com/
I continue reading both newspapers and 5-10 of their blogs every day, and buy the Times in print about 3-4 times a week.

New York Times video: 60 Seconds With Pogue: Fitness Bands
http://www.nytimes.com/video/2012/11/14/technology/personaltech/100000001903028/60-seconds-with-pogue-fitness-bands.html
  
But in the context of my blog post today, there's one blog in particular that I'd like to mention because it's an excellent example of the sort of focus and scope that I and many of my friends would greatly prefer the Sun-Sentinel to emulate -the State of NoVA blog, written by Tom Jackman. http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-state-

This recent post is exactly the sort of thing you'd never see at the Broward Politics blog
http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-state-of-nova/post/manassas-news-and-messenger-and-insidenovacom-top-prince-william-news-sources-closing-down/2012/11/14/e2f8bde2-2e7b-11e2-89d4-040c9330702a_blog.html

In my opinion, a newspaper that refuses to properly maintain and improve the depth and quality of writing and frequency of its own blogs, and which has added no new original content in-print or online, is seriously mismanaged and deluded if they think that news consumers with an almost infinite amount of choices, will now suddenly pay for the same-old-thing.
That same tired old thing that they really weren't so crazy about in the first place.

That perhaps is the worst sin of all among the Tribune Company's executives who felt that they no longer had a choice about waiting to erect a paywall for the Sun-Sentinel so many months after they did that at their Los Angles Times property -it was all so damn predictable!

Why, knowing all that they did about how these paywall introductions usually go across the country -esp. in more serious newspaper towns- did they make no serious effort to improve the print version first, to endear themselves to existing readers?
Then, after existing readers could see that a serious effort was being made to improve the paper, make the online experience better by making both more compelling and original content?
The sort that would make people actually willing to pay?

To me, the only plus for the Tribune Company and the Sun-Sentinel's executives throughout this whole mess has been that the state of serious journalism in South Florida has fallen so badly that it never seems to have occurred to the news directors at Channels 4, 6, 7 & 10 to actually do a series of stories on how badly the Sun-Sentinel has bungled things, and now has a knife at its throat after going this route, and the very people holding the knife are -yes- themselves.
There's always that!

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Hallandale Beach Blog is where I try to inject or superimpose a degree of accountability, transparency and insight onto Florida and local Broward County government and public policy issues, which I feel is sorely lacking in local media now. On this blog, locally, I concentrate my energy, enthusiasm, anger and laser-like attention on the coastal cities of Hallandale Beach, Hollywood and Aventura.

If you lived in this part of South Florida, you'd ALREADY be stuck in stultifying traffic, paying higher-than-necessary taxes and continually musing about the chronic lack of accountability among not only elected govt. officials, but also of city, county and state employees as well. Collectively, with a few rare exceptions, they couldn't be farther from the sort of strong results-oriented, eager work-ethic mentality that local residents deserve and expect. But seldom if ever see...

This is particularly true in the Broward County city I live in, the City of Hallandale Beach, north of Aventura and south of Hollywood and right on the Atlantic Ocean. Here, the "Perfect Storm" of years of apathy, incompetency and cronyism are all too readily apparent. Sadly for its beleaguered residents, HB is where even easily-solved, quality-of-life problems are left to fester for YEARS on end, because of myopia, lack of common sense and ineffective supervisory management. It's a city with tremendous potential because of its terrific location and well-educated populace, yet its citizens have almost become numb to HB City Hall's frequent outrages and screw-ups, the result of YEARS of the worst kind of mismanagement and lack of foresight. On a daily basis, residents and Small Business owners wake up and see the same old problems that have never being adequately resolved by the city in a logical and responsible fashion, merely kicked -once again- further down the road for others to solve in the future.

I used to ask myself, not always rhetorically, "Where are all the enterprising young reporters who want to show that through their own hard work and enterprise, what REAL investigative reporting can produce?" Hearing no response, I decided to start a blog of my own that could try to do some of these things, taking the p.o.v. of a reasonable-but-skeptical person seeing the situation for the first time with fresh eyes, and wanting questions answered in a honest and logical way that citizens have the right to expect.

Hallandale Beach Blog intends to be a catalyst for positive change in public policy and goivernment engagement. If there's one constant gripe in South Florida, regardless of your age, race, nationality or political persuasion, it's about the fundamental lack of PUBLIC ACCOUNTABILITY of Florida's state, regional and local govt./agency officials, elected and otherwise. Hallandale Beach Blog aims to be a small step towards regaining some of that needed accountability, whether it's thru shining some well-needed public scrutiny on the issue or pol, or requires a higher degree of follow-up investigation and public exposure of the incompetency, cronyism or negligence -South Florida's usual governing style.
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Singer/songwriter Full of Keys (Anni Bernhard)

Singer/songwriter Full of Keys (Anni Bernhard)
Singer/songwriter Full of Keys (Anni Bernhard) wearing the teal-colored Miami Dolphins cap I gave her in January 2013 (in Stockholm) while recording her 2nd album, "The Grazing Grounds" at Sandkvie Studios in Visby, Gotland, Sweden. Also pictured here are sound engineer and co-producer Linus Larsson and musician/DJ/co-producer Mats Jönsson, April 12, 2013.Click the photo to see her videos, read my blog posts and Tweets about her and learn more about this dynamic and original talent with personality to spare!

North Miami Beach Senior High School, the Home of the Chargers

North Miami Beach Senior High School, the Home of the Chargers
Before I was a Hoosier, I was an NMB Charger, Class of 1979.

In the Heart of a Great Country, Beats the Soul of Hoosier Nation

In the Heart of a Great Country, Beats the Soul of Hoosier Nation
"In the Heart of a Great Country, Beats the Soul of Hoosier Nation." -South Beach Hoosier, 2007.