Monday, November 20, 2006

Martí Moonlighter quits El Nuevo Herald

After a weekend that saw the results of Clark Hoyt's investigation into the reporting of the Martí Moonlighters story published in both English and Spanish, Herald Watch has learned that Pablo Alfonso, one of the Martí Moonlighters who lost and then regained his job has resigned from El Nuevo Herald.

In a heartfelt letter to readers upon his re-hire back in October, Alfonso explained how he had been imprisoned in Cuba for being an independent journalist and that his goal of providing uncensored, truthful news to Cubans on the island never faltered and that that is why he contributed to Radio Martí. At the time he said that he was accepting the job back but was expecting his employer to make an "honorable rectification."

Apparently unsatisfied by either Hoyt's review, the Herald's response, or the lack of an apology Alfonso has decided that it's better to move on.


heraldphobe said...

Of course Alfonso was deeply disappointed. He'd expected, or at least hoped, that the Herald would ultimately do the elegant and honorable thing, instead of continuing to play its shabby passive-aggressive game. Sadly, he was mistaken.

I feel for him, because he obviously deserved better, and he never should have been put through this whole ordeal in the first place. Given the particulars of the case, he (like Cancio Isla and Connor) should simply have been told he had to stop doing paid work for Radio/TV Marti if he wanted to remain employed by the Herald, and then allowed to choose.

Instead, he was summarily fired as if he'd been secretly committing some crime, and he was in effect smeared as if he'd been illicitly on the take. None of that was true, but he was still unjustly smeared, and he was clearly owed an apology and an unequivocal acknowledgment that his integrity was not in question.

We now know what "rectification" the Herald had in mind. I'm sorry he's quitting, because it's bound to mean even more disruption and material loss in his life, but I understand why he's doing it. It's a shame it had to come to this, but the shame is really the Herald's, even if it doesn't feel it.

Manuel A. Tellechea said...

Dignity. It is not a word heard often today perhaps because the thing itself has become so rare as to seem anachronistic.

Alfonso has given the editors of The Miami Herald a lesson in dignity that will surely be lost on them. No matter.

He demanded respect and did not get it. He forgave and was defrauded for his generosity. Under such circumstances, there was nothing else that Alfonso could do and still remain faithful to his principles. And it is principles, not personal interests, that drove this decision, just as it was principles, not personal interests, that motivated him to collaborate with Radio Martí.

I hope that those who unfairly accused Alfonso of venality, and one blogger, in particular, who characterized him and the others as "journalistic criminals" for doing today what Edward R. Murrow did 50 years ago, will profit by this lesson in the greatness and invincibility of the human spirit.

heraldphobe said...

There's no excuse for how this matter has been (mis)handled, but I suppose Alfonso may have read too much into what Landsberg told him in early October.

I think Landsberg, like Diaz before him, is in a rather weak position. Diaz could not assert his authority when a subordinate went behind his back and/or over his head when he didn't like a Diaz decision. Landsberg was picked on short notice to plug the hole Diaz left. After what happened to Diaz, I expect Landsberg is very wary of having the rug pulled out from under him.

It seems Landsberg has opted for caution and not making any sudden moves, so to speak. The extreme timidity of his published note concerning the Hoyt report goes along with that. The leader of the pack appears to be Fiedler, who has brazenly denied the need for correction, clarification or retraction on the Herald's part.

Again, if nothing else, the Herald's position is eminently clear. There's no point sitting around waiting for it to magically reform. The only real issue is how to respond effectively to what has happened, and mere bitching won't cut it. It's not an especially difficult call.