I sent Jesus Diaz Jr., The Herald's President and Publisher, an email with some questions last night. I identified myself as a blogger and gave him the URL of this blog. Below are my questions and his responses.
HW: The reason I'm writing is that I've been following the story of the Marti Moonlighters that were fired by the Herald because of their simultaneous employment with the Office of Cuba Broadcasting and I was curious why it is not a conflict of interest for you to sit on the advisory board of the Cuba Transition Project that is funded by a grant from the Federal Government?
JD: See the answers below. In addition, I am neither a reporter nor an editor, nor do I work in the newsroom.In his response he asked me if I "needed anything else," so I sent him the following follow-up questions:
HW: What exactly do you do in your role on the advisory board?
JD: To date, I have not participated in any meeting related to the Cuba Transition Project. The extent of my involvement has been receiving copies of their reports.
HW: Are you compensated for time spent on the Cuba Transition Project?
JD: Not one penny.
You say you have only received materials from the group. But it is an advisory position, so one would assume that information flows both ways. Exactly what type of advice are [you] supposed to convey to the CTP? What were the expectations that the CTP placed upon you when they offered (I assume they offered) the spot on their advisory board?Interestingly, Mr. Diaz responded immediately but only answered one question, the one about a potential Cuba bureau for The Herald or McClatchy. His answer was in blue capital letters highlighted in yellow: ABSOLUTELY NOT.
Although you do not work as a reporter/editor clearly you have the power to hire/fire employees. In that capacity you can passively influence what gets covered. Is that not a fair assessment? If not, why not?
To your knowledge, is The Miami Herald Publishing Company or The McClatchy Company currently negotiating with the government of Cuba to establish a bureau in that country?
I assume that the decision to terminate the two reporters and one freelancer was at least agreed-to by you. Yet Carlos Alberto Montaner's columns have continued to be published even though he was named in the original Corral article. Does his status as a syndicated columnist make the difference? If so, in your opinion does Mr. Montaner deserve a retraction or an apology as it seems that his ethics were called into question but apparently not compromised (an assumption based on the continued relationship with the Herald)?
I also sent the preliminary questions to Humberto Castello, the Director of El Nuevo Herald. I have not yet received a response. Stay tuned.