Friday, March 27, 2009

That was then, this is now

On September 8, 2006 a Miami Herald reporter named Oscar Corral wrote an article about several south Florida journalists that were moonlighting at Radio Martí and TV Martí (two U.S. government sponsored information outlets that target Cuba like the Voice of America targeted eastern Europe during the cold war). Some of the journalists named in the article were Corral's colleagues at the Miami Herald Media Company, they worked for the Spanish language sister of the paper, El Nuevo Herald. Those journalists were fired as a result.

The Herald justified the firings by claiming that such moonlighting violated journalistic ethics. An excerpt from the Corral article:

Journalism ethics experts called the payments a fundamental conflict of interest. Such violations undermine the credibility of reporters to objectively cover key issues affecting U.S. policy toward Cuba, they said.

The episode was embarrassing for the Herald because it turns out that at least one of the fired journalists had obtained permission to do the moonlighting work from a previous editor and another one of the fired journalists had been featured in a Herald article several years earlier that mentioned the fact that she contributed to Radio and TV Martí.

The point is that the Herald went to great lengths to cleanse itself of perceived ethics violations by some of its employees. The sin the journalists committed was to be on the U.S. government payroll.

If we take the Herald's pronouncements from that time seriously then what are we to make of posting entire items from a Cuban government information agency as if it were coming from a legitimate independent news organization like Reuters or the Associated Press?

Is the Herald actually telling us between the lines that the U.S. government can't be trusted but the Cuban government can?

The Miami Herald was listed as number 3 on Time Magazine's list of The 10 Most Endangered Newspapers in America. I can't imagine why.

It's official, Herald is a mouthpiece for castro

Yesterday Humberto Fontova from Babalu blog posted an interesting item about the Herald's web site. It's an article there from ACN. ACN is one of Cuba's many official "news" outlets. That is to say that it's controlled by the government (and communist party) and serves only to put out official regime propaganda.

It's interesting that the article is being hosted in a directory that seems reserved for Associated Press items: has republished this item that originated in the regime as if it were news from a credible source and, in fact, a reader might believe it's coming from the Associated Press.

Many who blog and care about Cuba often allege that lazy journalists pick up items from the Cuban "news" services (Castro's public relations agencies) and make a minor modification and publish them. This takes the cake. is hosting an article produced 100% by the regime without any disclaimer whatsoever as to the validity of the source. I'm sure most readers have no idea what ACN is and assume that it's one of the many partners of the Herald who provide legitimate content.

I did a search for other ACN content at and found that this wasn't an isolated incident. Here's several articles from ACN currently being hosted by

Safer houses for hurricane victims in Cuba

Tobacco Harvest in Pinar del Rio in Final Stage

Fidel Castro: I was right about baseball tourney

Fidel Castro writes about Cuban baseball team

Remains of the Yucatan meteorite found in Cuba

The Arab Union of Cuba to celebrate its 30th anniversary

I've put in an email to Executive Editor of the Herald and the Online Editor asking them when the Herald became an official distributor of regime propaganda.

Thursday, March 26, 2009 Publishes Castro Regime propaganda in toto

While conservatives have long complained of liberal media bias, Cubans have long complained of the the media's partiality towards the Castro regime. Especially the Miami Herald. As if to solidify itself in the camp of Fidel and company is now republishing items from the official Cuban (government) news (propaganda) agency ACN.

Click to enlarge images

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Time: Herald is an endangered species

From Time Magazine's list of The 10 Most Endangered Newspapers in America:

3. The Miami Herald, which has a daily circulation of about 220,000. It is owned by McClatchy, a publicly traded company that could be the next chain to file for Chapter 11. The Herald has been on the market since December, but no serious bidders have emerged. Newspaper advertising has been especially hard-hit in Florida because of the tremendous loss in real estate advertising. The online version of the paper is already well read in the Miami area, Latin America and the Caribbean. The Herald has strong competition north of it, in Fort Lauderdale. There is a very small chance it could merge with the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, but it is more likely that the Herald will go online-only with two editions, one for English-language readers and one for Spanish.
Yes, the Herald will finally come the conclusion that any outside observer would have made a long time ago, that their business lies in the "news" part of newspaper, not the "paper" part. Getting rid of the dead tree version will allow the Herald to focus on its core business which is providing news content to readers and advertising opportunities to clients.

Here comes the hatchet

To: All Employees

From: David Landsberg, Publisher

Subject: Workforce and Wage Reductions

Date: March 11, 2009

Following Monday’s McClatchy Company cost savings announcement, I want to share with you the details for the Miami Herald Media Company. We are announcing plans to reduce our workforce by approximately 19%. About 175 employees will lose their jobs as a result, and we will eliminate another 30 vacant positions, for a total reduction of 205. Reductions will occur in all areas of our operation and at every level in the organization.

Although many of the job eliminations will occur through involuntary layoffs, there also will be opportunities for employees to voluntarily elect a severance package where reductions are occurring in work groups of two or more employees. If enough employees do not take the voluntary option, then the work groups will be reduced either by function or according to least tenure, depending on the workgroup.

Employees affected by this reduction are being notified and provided with information about a transition package. If a voluntary option is being offered to your work group, you will receive written notification with additional information today.

The decisions about where to reduce jobs have been extremely difficult. Please know that we have done everything possible to minimize the impact of layoffs by identifying alternative means of saving expenses, several of which are detailed below.

We will implement pay reductions for all full-time employees making more than $25,000 per year in base salary. For those who earn between $25,000 and $50,000 per year in base pay, the reduction will be 5%. For employees who make more than $50,000 per year in base pay, the reduction will be 10%.

Every employee will receive a letter detailing the impact of the pay reduction in the next few days. These reductions will take effect for the pay period beginning March 23, 2009.

We will also implement a one-week unpaid furlough program. Details on that program, which will begin in April, will be made available in the next two weeks.

Additionally, we are eliminating all 2009 bonuses (MBOs) for everyone in management.

We also are reducing operational expenses in all areas. Among those reductions:

We will convert our presses to a 44-inch web format, which will conserve more than $2 million in newsprint on an annualized basis.

We have leased the sixth floor of One Herald Plaza, and we will consolidate our Dadeland news and advertising operations into other Herald facilities and seek a tenant to lease that office space.

We will cease publication of our International Edition, reducing costs that are now outpacing revenues for that product.

While there will be tightening of news pages on various days, we have worked hard to maintain our newspapers at the quality level our readers have come to expect.

All of these are difficult decisions, especially when it means saying goodbye to so many of our friends and colleagues. But we must make these additional cuts to ensure the viability of our newspapers and to adjust to new competitive and economic realities.

Each of the actions we’re announcing today has been shaped by our commitment to continue to serve readers, advertisers and our community through the vital public service we have provided for more than 100 years. We must keep that mission – and the long view – in our sights. Every day, I hear from readers about the value of the work we do. While forced to make difficult changes, we will not lose focus on continuing to be South Florida’s most trusted source of information.

Again, I want to apologize for the disruption that you have experienced over the last several weeks. We can only respectfully ask, as we have in the past, that you keep your focus and continue to work hard to help our company succeed.

Please contact human resources if you have any questions about the severance program or wage reductions. Thanks.

H/T: Deep Throat

Monday, March 09, 2009

Memo to Herald employees about layoffs

To: All Employees

From: David Landsberg, Publisher

Subject: Expense Reductions

Date: March 9, 2009

On Feb. 5, McClatchy announced plans to further reduce operating expenses as a result of the ongoing and unprecedented economic pressures and revenue declines. Today, McClatchy released additional information about these expense reductions. The press release is available on McClatchy’s corporate website.

Here at the Miami Herald Media Company, we have already shared the news about advertising losses that are greater than any of us have ever seen in our history. As the economy continues to decline, so have our revenues.

We know you are anxiously awaiting the details of our expense reduction plans to offset these losses, but the plans aren’t quite final. We assure you we are working as quickly as possible to finish this work. We understand how unsettling the last several weeks have been and how announcements by other McClatchy papers increase concerns about the future. We apologize for the delay but want to make sure we carefully review every option before making final decisions. We anticipate communicating these decisions to you by the end of the week.

Our future success is dependent on the hard work you do every day. We know these repeated announcements and ongoing restructuring are disruptive, but we respectfully ask for your continued focus, even in these difficult circumstances.

Please contact your department manager or human resources if you have any questions. Thanks, David.
Also yesterday the Herald ran this article about the cutbacks at McClatchy. Expect layoffs of 15% of the Herald workforce. If I were in the executive offices at 1 Herald Plaza I'd start getting rid of truck drivers and pressmen. Time to move toward a digital model.

H/T: Deep Throat

Sunday, February 15, 2009

1 Year share price chart for McClatchy

Ouch. As you can see that's an evaporation of 94.1% of the company's stock value.

Schizophrenic Herald on Marlins Ballpark

Jorge Costales notes the negative article the Herald published about the Marlins ballpark deal and shows how the same data could have been spun more realistically by comparing the Marlins to other smaller market teams. It would have made sense to do so given the fact that the editorial board is in FAVOR of the stadium. Makes one wonder who the hell is really running things, if anyone.

Friday, February 06, 2009

The bleeding at McClatchy continues

Associated Press:

Newspaper publisher McClatchy Co. reported a $21.7 million loss for the fourth quarter on Thursday, reflecting the declining value of its newspapers, and said it plans deep cost cuts this year.

McClatchy, which publishes The Miami Herald, The Sacramento (Calif.) Bee and other newspapers, wouldn't say how much, if any, of the $100 million to $110 million in cuts would come from layoffs. The company said plans were still being completed...

Shares in the Sacramento, Calif.-based company rose 4 cents, or 6.1 percent, to 70 cents in morning trading Thursday. The company said Thursday it has fallen below the New York Stock Exchange's standards for listing, but the company will notify the exchange of plans to return to compliance.
So the Herald's parent company is about to be de-listed by the NYSE and Gary Pruitt the CEO still has a job.

Over/under on months the Herald can stay in business?

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

2008 Weblog Awards

Please take a moment to vote for McClatchy Watch in the 2008 Weblog Awards. Kevin Gregory, who runs that blog is a good friend of Herald Watch.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Knight Foundation announces freezes

From Editor & Publisher:

The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, one of the leading grant providers for journalism, is freezing salaries and leaving open positions vacant to save money, according to Foundation President Alberto Ibarguen.

In an address posted to the organization’s Web site, Ibarguen, former publisher of The Miami Herald, also stressed that, despite tough economic times, the philanthropic group remains economically sound.

Herald's land sale postponed

According to Editor & Publisher:

The McClatchy Co. said on Tuesday that it is extending the closing date of the sale of its Miami property.

The deal, which is expected to bring in $190 million, was originally expected to close at the end of this year. Because the buyers of the 10 acres of land adjacent to The Miami Herald are having trouble securing financing, McClatchy has postponed the date until June 30, 2009.

Citisquare Group paid McClatchy $10 million in a nonrefundable deposit.