Thursday, October 19, 2006

Funnies Business? - UPDATED

Steven Klotz (as in Blood) reports that The Miami Herald did not publish the serial comic strip Pearls Before Swine on three consecutive days this week, instead it ran 3 installments of Get Fuzzy which Pearls Before Swine replaced back in March. Curiously, two of the missing installments make reference to Fidel Castro, although in the most benign way a comic strip can (with a duck in a Fidel disguise). Today the strip reappeared in The Herald but it made reference to the Castro disguise which Herald comics readers would have no way of knowing about.

So what gives? Did The Herald somehow censor itself because of the recent perceived insensitivity towards Cubans in our community? If so, it's a laughable attempt at sensitivity that underscores the chasm of understanding between The Herald and its rapidly vanishing Cuban-American readership. Somehow I don't think the comic strips in question would have been the perceived as an attack, like the poorly researched/written/edited article questioning the journalistic integrity of various Hispanic journalists or the ridiculous and insulting statements made by The Herald's executive editor about Cuban-American talk radio hosts and their listeners were.

According to Klotz:

...it sure appears as though sycophantic Hurled [Herald] management determined that these little cartoons ran the risk of inflaming its volatile Cuban-American constituency... If that’s the case, it reflects very poorly either on the way the Hurled regards the community, or demonstrates its own weak-kneed obsequiousness in the matter of editorial direction. Again.
UPDATE: The features editor of The Miami Herald has sent me this explanation:
Hi Henry:
On Monday, we introduced a change to the comics page and dropped Boondocks because the creator had been on sabbatical and decided not to return to work. In making the change, the outside vendor that puts together our comics pages inadvertantly dropped Pearls and substituted another comic. Pearls returned to the comics pages today, the soonest we could correct the mistake, as these pages are done in advance of publication. I apologize that the strip didn't appear for three days this week; we corrected the problem as quickly as we could (and I was unaware of the particulars of the missing content until you told us about it). Today's strip picks up the storyline where it left off. Again, my apologies that this error occurred.

Shelley Acoca
Features Editor/Arts & Style
The Miami Herald
I'd be willing to accept this answer at face value, however I'm not quite clear how the dropping of one strip could cause another to be mistakenly substituted.

UDATE #2: I got this in response to my follow-up.
They made a mistake, pure and simple. As soon as I saw the error on Monday, we corrected it as quickly as was possible. The Tropical Life section is printed two days in advance of distribution; the comics themselves are three days ahead. So Thursday was the soonest it could be restored.
UDATE #3: And I received another follow up:
One thing I should have mentioned: The missing three strips are on MiamiHerald.com (you can always find archived comics there). If you go to MiamiHerald.com, click on entertainment on the left side, then on comics, also on the left side, you can always find archival stuff there.
If you have any tips about goings on at The Heralds please email me.

5 comments:

Manuel A. Tellechea said...

Oh my God, Henry! It seems that Herald Watch is nowhere watched more carefully now than at the Miami Herald editorial offices. The alacrity and deference with which the Features Editor contacted you not once but twice today attests to the growing influence of this blog. Herald Watch has become, in effect, the uber-conscience of The Miami Herald. This is a hopeful development and as much as any of us could expect. Congratulations.

On another front, Correa is no longer moderating Miami's Cuban Connection. Tat is, he is no longer producing threads or approving posts. I think that Oscar Corral may be migrating soon.

heraldphobe said...

This may be off-topic, but let's not forget what Pablo Alfonso was promised by Herald management. Whatever they're going to do, I think by the end of the year is plenty long enough for them to do it.

Amy said...

Oh man! It seems too convienient that the cartoons just happened to be missing during the Castro references. It's sad that the Herald just can't get it right. Why didn't they drop another cartoon instead? It's suspect.

Val Prieto said...

Where oh where could Oscar Corral be? Inquiring minds want to know....

Manuel A. Tellechea said...

It's over. Corral's blog is history. So is his career at The Miami Herald. It's only a question now of how and when he will exit. I would guess that his departure will be timed to coincide with the holiday season in the hope that it will not be noticed or at least not noticed much.