Tuesday, December 19, 2006

What gets reported and in what language?

Chuck Strouse, the editor of the Miami New Times brings something to the attention of Herald Watch in a blog post today.

Over the last several days TMH has published a series of stories about Radio/TV Martí and their parent organization, the Office of Cuba Broadcasting (OCB). The stories allege shady financial dealings, cronyism at the organization and a lack of balance in the programs transmitted by its broadcasters.

The thing is that ENH has not published any of these stories or the details found in them.

Herald Watch readers already know that one of the big problems at MHMC, as I see it, is the lack of coordination between the two papers. The standard fall-back argument from executives at the company is that the two papers are independent of each other, with their own editors and editorial boards. And I suppose there is some merit to the idea, particularly because it gives ENH freedom to report stories that are more important to its target audience instead of being merely a translation shop.

In the past I have advocated for some sort of liaison editor that would bring be able to introduce important stories into one paper that originated in the other.

In this particular case it appears that ENH has been reluctant to run the stories that attack OCB because of the fallout from the Martí Moonlighters affair in which ENH lost a significant number of subscribers when it published a controversal piece by TMH reporter Oscar Corral.

The Corral story resulted in the firing and subsequent re-hiring of 3 ENH journalists for supposed ethics violations because they moonlighted for OCB. Cuban-Americans, which make up a good proportion of ENH's readership, have fond feelings for the idea of Radio/TV Martí if not their results. Many Cubans were outraged by the attacks on Radio/TV Martí and defended the implicated journalists.

But it doesn't look good that now ENH has, to date, decided to avoid publishing the articles (many penned by Corral himself) about the alleged irregularities at OCB in a form of "soft self-censorship."

It should be noted that TMH did engage in its fair share of "soft censorship" during the Martí Moonlighters scandal by not running many articles or columns (in the days subsequent to the intitial Corral report) that could have provided more balance to the story. Many times when such an article or column did run in TMH it was days after ENH published it.

1 comment:

heraldphobe said...

Deliberate or not, malicious or not, the Miami Herald's timing for the whole recent series of essentially anti-exile pieces couldn't be better--for the Cuban dictatorship, that is. It's impossible not to be suspicious, let alone offended.

Whatever the Herald's motivations or intentions may be, it is, in effect, acting against the wishes and interests of the Cuban-American community with regard to Cuba and its cause. It is up to that community, out of self-respect if nothing else, to respond accordingly. This is not rocket science.

El Nuevo Herald director Humberto Castello inspires increasingly less confidence. He's made a number of dubious moves, not just concerning the goings-on at the other Herald. Maybe his hands are tied, maybe it's a character issue, maybe both.

The bottom line is that the Cuban-American community is being poorly served by the Herald organization, and in some respects, it is clearly being antagonized. Why Cuban-Americans continue doing business with the Herald is a rather troubling question.