Saturday, September 08, 2007

Marti Moonlighters, one year later

Today makes one year since the Miami Herald published an article alleging violations of journalistic ethics among several journalists of Cuban origin. The accusations were based on the fact that the journalists in question also freelanced for Radio/TV Marti, a U.S. government-run broadcaster that is a sister entity of the Voice of America. Herald Watch documented the saga in-depth and you can read the as-it-happened accounts from the scandal in the archives. But I wanted to highlight what has happened to all the major players in the story.

Radio talk show commentators Ninoska Perez Castellon and Paul Crespo continue to work on their respective shows for local Univision Radio stations Radio Mambi and WQBA respectively and Perez Castellon now also hosts a TV show on local Channel 8.

El Nuevo Herald reporters Wilfredo Cancio Isla, Pablo Alfonso, and Olga Connor were all fired and then re-hired (Connor was actually a freelancer and her arrangement was reinstated) after it was discovered that Carlos Castañeda, the late editor of El Nuevo Herald, gave his blessing to the freelance assignments and that the Miami Herald had run a story a couple of years earlier about Connor's work with Radio/TV Marti. Alfonso subsequently resigned his position, citing his disappointment with the lack of a public apology from the Herald. He now writes his columns for Miami's other Spanish language daily, Diario las Americas and is also working on TV for channel 41's news department.

Channel 23 Sports reporter Omar Claro was fired although his profile is still up at WLTV's web site. Claro recently authored a book about Cuban athletes called "Medallas de Oro y Rostros de Bronce" (Gold Medals and Bronze Faces) and is currently the sports director at Diario las Americas.

Syndicated columnist Carlos Alberto Montaner's columns never stopped running in the Miami Herald and El Nuevo Herald (except for one which in which he defended himself and the other journalists implicated by the Herald). Montaner was also given his own show on local TV, Pronósticos on channel 22.

Miami Herald Media Company Publisher Jesus Diaz resigned in the wake of the scandal which blew up in the paper's collective face. He became embroiled in a dispute over a column by Carl Hiaasen that he wanted to spike. That, and the rehiring of the El Nuevo Herald journalists made his position untenable.

Miami Herald Executive Editor Tom Fiedler took an early retirement after calling members of Miami's anti-castro media "Chihuahuas" and refusing to accept the findings of the Herald's own investigation which was conducted by Clark Hoyt.

Oscar Corral, the author of the original September 8th article, worked on a series of articles alleging malfeasance among contractors that receive federal funds for free cuba activities. He was later taken off the Cuban exile beat, apparently because members of the community refused to talk to him anymore. On August 3, 2007, Corral was arrested for soliciting a teen-aged prostitute in the Flagami area of Miami-Dade county. Corral has not written since the arrest despite the fact the Herald once again stood by their man. Also joining in Corral's defense was Granma, the official newspaper of the Cuban Communist Party. There are unsubstantiated rumors that Corral's wife is seeking a divorce and that Corral will be assigned to a non-visible position at the copy desk in the Herald's Broward office.

All in all, it's pretty safe to say that the mud the Herald's decision makers attempted to sling at the Cuban exile community and the exile media hit the fan and came right back at them.


Anonymous said...

Great report on this situation. Thanks!!

Anonymous said...

Very good report. Unlike the biased article that Mr. Corral published on the Radio and TV Marti collaborators. Now we know were he stands today.

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, the damage is done. The original indictment/story got worldwide media coverage. The exonerations have not. Typical.

Anonymous said...

Great folow up...thanks.

Now quoting the late John Lennon-
"Instant Karma is going to get you - knock you right in the head"

The Herald execs got what they deserved!

Cutie said...

Excellent reporting. Undoubtedly, the cub reporter will be demoted to the copy desk. That will be a long commute from Coral Gables to Broward County for him. If his wife has any dignity and divorces him, he should move to Broward County. I wonder what's going to happen to Corral's Herald blog?