Friday, September 15, 2006

Marti Moonlighters, contrasting perspectives

Just as I thought the aftershocks of Oscar Corral's September 8th article about Cuban-American journalists moonlighting for Radio and TV Martí were beginning to die down we have new developments.

Perhaps responding to criticism in the community and in reaction to calls for boycotts of The Miami Herald and El Nuevo Herald, the editors of The Miami Herald felt compelled to publish an editorial that appears under the headline:

Fault lines over Radio Martí coverage
In the piece, the editors claim that some assertions about the paper's position on Cuba and Radio Martí "are wrong and should be set right."
Anyone who would suggest, hint or imply that we would ever take a position that supports Castro's agenda is mistaken.

Whatever faults there have been in the coverage of this issue -- and we admit that no story is ever complete or perfect -- it is plain wrong to infer that The Miami Herald would intentionally try to help the dictator in Cuba.
The editorial goes on to say that The Herald has been behind Radio Martí since it was only an idea and the opinion of the paper "has not changed."

Finally the editors assert that speculation that McClatchy is "pulling the strings, ostensibly to pave the way for a bureau in Cuba," is incorrect.

Meanwhile in today's El Nuevo Herald a letter from Paul Crespo, a talk show host on Spanish-language radio station WQBA, that ran in yesterday's Miami Herald was published (this is a reversal of previous patterns where information first appeared in El Nuevo Herald and then in The Miami Herald, if at all).

Crespo's photograph was among the 10 shown in the original September 8th article but he was not referenced in the piece. In The Miami Herald, Crespo's letter was published among a group of letters from readers about the subject, while in El Nuevo it was published separately as its own item.

Regardless of the Herald's claim that they would never "take a position that supports Castro's agenda," Crespo disagrees, claiming that the Herald story is erroneous and sensationalistic, and as a result is helping the Castro brothers silence their critics in the U.S.

He says of the Oscar Corral article:
Sadly, Fidel Castro's regime is already touting it as proof that all its Miami opponents are "U.S. mercenaries.''
Crespo contends that the article was not a shining example of reporting. He alleges that the headline was misleading and sensationalistic.
A more-accurate, less-sensational headline would have correctly read: 10 Miami journalists also consult for TV Martí, (the U.S. government's TV station aimed at Cuba). But that probably wasn't really front-page news.
Mr. Crespo then explains his position about his role in Radio/TV Martí and asserts that he had "publicly disclosed" his new weekly TV Martí program about world affairs to his radio audience in Miami.
None of this is secret. All The Herald had to do was ask, but like the other 10 people cited, I was called for comment only the night before the article was printed.
He goes on to attack the comparison to the Armstrong Williams scandal that was made in the September 8th article (Williams, a radio talk show host was being paid to promote President Bush's education program).
Unlike that case, everything here is in the public record. TV Martí is required to pay analysts a nominal fee per program for shows beamed into Cuba. Like Radio Free Europe beamed into the Communist bloc during the Cold War, nothing on TV Martí is intended for domestic U.S. consumption, nor directed at U.S. citizens. So how is this comparable? It's not, which is why The Miami Herald's ''ethics experts'' remained anonymous.

I'm proud to provide the Cuban people information and perspective that their totalitarian communist masters keep from them. Some, especially the Castro brothers in Havana, want to silence us. Why is The Miami Herald helping them?
So there you have in a nutshell both sides of argument. The Herald claims it is holding up journalistic integrity and its intention is not to harm the forces that seek to bring democracy to Cuba and Crespo alleges that the way in which the story was reported was not fair or accurate and thus gives the Cuban government propaganda fodder.

1 comment:

Val Prieto said...

I think you are being very forgiving and too kind to the Herald.