Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Herald Round-up

A lot of developments in the wake of the sudden announcement that Jesus Diaz Jr. was stepping down as MHPC Publisher and that the 3 Herald journalists that were dismissed for moonlighting on Radio/TV Martí would be offered their jobs back.

First, there is an article by Christina Hoag about differing newsroom philosophies for The Miami Herald and El Nuevo Herald. It seems to me that they are trying to spin this into a difference of cultures. According the theory put forth in the article Latin American media is more advocacy-based, foregoing objectivity. But the article doesn't mention the fact that it's not just Latin America but pretty much the entire rest of the world that newspapers are pretty clearly ideologically labled and driven. Also the theory ignores the reporting of the New York Sun and El Nuevo Herald that showed that many non-Hispanic journalists were contributing to government-funded media such as the VOA.

The article reveals that 6 other El Nuevo Herald staffers (in addition to the two full-timers named in the Sept. 8th Corral article) had moonlighted for Radio/TV Martí.

All but one said their arrangements had been approved by El Nuevo's previous editor, the late Carlos Castaneda.
The fact that a previous supervisor had known and at least tacitly approved of the moonlighting gigs is probably the decisive factor in bringing back the fired journalists.

In addition to the full-time staffers, 29 El Nuevo Herald freelancers had also worked for Radio/TV Martí. It's obvious that if all of these journalists were dismissed that there wouldn't be anyone left to write for the paper.

Secondly there is an article by Douglas Hanks which reports that the Jesus Diaz resignation has been a couple of weeks in the making and was spurred by his being overruled by parent company McClatchy on his decision to spike two columns (one by Carl Hiaasen and the other by Ana Menendez that were critical of the Cuban-American community's reaction to the firings).

The real bombshell in this article is the following excerpt:
In staff meetings Tuesday, Miami Herald reporters asked whether the paper was caving to critics. Editor Tom Fiedler dismissed that notion, saying the ''22 people who listen to Cuban radio'' were being stirred up by ''little chihuahuas nipping at our heels.'' He later apologized for his choice of words
I'll leave the reader to make a judgment on that choice of words but I can assure you (working in advertising, as I do) that Spanish talk radio reaches a larger audience in this market than both Miami Herald publications combined.

Next is an audio clip from from a meeting in which Herald executives addressed employees. The gist of the clip is that MHPC is going to require, in writing, approval for any outside employment. This is a policy, which I have been made to understand by readers that work for other newspapers, is common. Why it took the Herald this long to adopt it is a good question.

Someone in the audience asked if there were any circumstance (paid or unpaid) in which an employee of The Herald could appear on Radio Martí. Tom Fiedler said that in the case of The Miami Herald, the answer is no. He explains that, in his mind, there is a bright line between the government and the media and even says that "we [the press] is the watchdog of government, the fourth branch."

Humberto Castelló, the executive editor of El Nuevo Herald, on the other hand, says that he agrees that El Nuevo Herald employees should not be paid to appear on Radio/TV Marti but that they should have the right to appear as unpaid guests. Castelló affirms that the mission of Radio/TV Marti is the same as that of El Nuevo Herald: to provide independent and truthful information. In a rather impassioned plea he explains that Cubans live under a dictatorship and they have the "right to know what is happening." His plea is capped by a round of applause from some of the members of the audience.


heraldphobe said...

"Little chihuahuas"? Well, I suppose we should be grateful he didn't say "little indios con levitas" (assuming he's at all bilingual).

heraldphobe said...

I neglected to mention in my previous comment that "indios con levita" (meaning roughly "indians with jackets") was a dismissive phrase about Cubans reportedly said by Sarah Bernhardt (a world-famous 19th century French actress) in connection with her visit to Cuba (presumably to perform there).

Christian said...

Can journalists be paid by National Public Radio?

heraldphobe said...

The "previous comment" I refer to above, which should have come first, got misrouted. Here it is:

"Little chihuahuas"? I suppose we should be grateful Fiedler didn't say little "indios con levita" (assuming he's at all bilingual).