Soren Triff wrote a column which was published in last Thursday's El Nuevo Herald. In it, he responds to a letter by Armando Codina which had appeared earlier last month. We do not know if this Armando Codina is the Armando Codina, the developer and political mover and shaker but are left to assume so.
Mr. Triff believes that "The Herald refuses to dialogue with the community by closing their pages after the Chihuahuas remark letters on Oct. 6." He noted that a letter of support for Fiedler appeared on October 12th.
It seems to me that this is more of the same from The Herald, which has made a habit of publishing letters and columns that defend the Herald's actions (actions specifically denounced as attacks by Cuban-Americans) at a ratio of perhaps 2-1 or 3-1 vs. letters or columns that condemn the Herald.
As I mentioned in one of my earliest posts, among the reasons for starting this blog was the handling (or mishandling) of a letter I wrote to the editors of The Miami Herald. They stripped out my criticism of the paper and published the letter anyway.
Throughout the Martí Moonlighters affair, El Nuevo published articles, letters, and columns that attempted to frame the issue more fairly (giving the accused and friends of the accused equal time), in my opinion, while The Miami Herald seemed to publish mostly pieces that attempted to justify its sloppy handling of the matter.
I suppose one could argue that the two papers balanced each other out but the truth is their audiences don't overlap that much. What results is that the readers of The Miami Herald are often in the dark about Cuban-Americans and why they act and react the way they do.
In any case, Mr. Triff argues that the problems between the Heralds go deeper than "a bright line of ethical conduct" but instead are rooted in a bright line between ethnicities in the newsrooms.
Here is his column as translated by Herald Watch:
The Bright line of ethnics
Armando Codina writes in The Miami Herald that he has accepted the apology of the executive editor of the newspaper for referring to Hispanic commentators by using the epithet “Chihuahuas” and asks for readers to do the same. I don’t have difficulty in forgiving, but the editor continues to be one of the people responsible for the lack of diversity of the newspaper, the inconsistency in the handling of its code of ethics, the failures in its coverage of Cuba, the strategic stumbles of journalistic “convergence”. Five years are sufficient to demonstrate results.
The journalism industry is up to date on the efforts of McClatchy Media Co. to improve relations between the newspapers and the community. Editor and Publisher affirmed that McClatchy had contracted Clark Hoyt to find a middle ground between The Miami Herald and El Nuevo Herald centered on “ethical policies and practices”. But if the executive editor thinks that the only important issue the newspaper needs to discuss is ethics, there is not much Hoyt can do for both newspapers.
It is hard to believe that only ethical misunderstandings caused the dismissal and rehiring of Hispanic journalists, the resignation of a Hispanic publisher, the editor’s description of Hispanic radio commentators as “Chihuahuas'' and his perception of the Spanish press as “propaganda”, all in less than a month.
Although the decisions of the managers can be explained administratively and journalistically, they also have a strong ethnic and ideological component that cannot be ignored. It’s an urgent matter that these dividing lines within The Miami Herald, between the Heralds and newspapers and the community be crossed. But Fiedler’s memorandum seems to explicitly deny this fact. According to Editor and Publisher, the purpose of hiring Hoyt was “to find the middle ground that we need to occupy as journalists committed to this community”. The central argument speaks to reviewing “the ethical policies and practices of each newsroom”.
If it is difficult for the executives to see the ethnic dividing line in the newsroom it is still more difficult to perceive the ideological one, but it is equally important to see the truth. For example, the word “Cuba”, like the word “abortion” and the phrase “gay marriage”, has an ideological connotation that helped the members of more than one American generation identify themselves as liberals and conservatives. Cuba is not only part of our international and local news but also part of our definition as liberal and conservative Americans. Many in our newsrooms need to recognize that Cuba is not only a topic, but also a deep source of American identity, they should “come of the closet” and discuss the subject openly.
Cuban-Americans, by extension, easily personify the “dark stranger'' for conservatives and the “rich white” for liberals especially when things are bad and the elections are close. This can explain why Cuban-Americans often receive unintended blows as a result of the ignorance and the prejudices of journalists. In the worst cases, an attack against Cuban-Americans, offers a rare opportunity for finding a common ground among the liberals and conservatives and, although in a negative way, a source of national identity.
It is time that The Miami Herald comes out of the closet and speaks openly of the lack of ethnic and cultural diversity in the management and the newsroom, not just of ethics and a “clash of civilizations”.