Saturday, September 09, 2006

What's this all about?

A free media is an integral part of a true democracy. It serves a purpose, acting as a watchdog on behalf of the citizenry. As a result media institutions can become very powerful in their own right because they influence opinion and can shape policy. So who watches the watchdog? The answer is increasingly obvious, it's the blogosphere. It was a blogger that debunked Dan Rather's phony documents about President George W. Bush's military service record. There are many more examples.

Newspapers maintain an air of credibility that people no longer associate with broadcast media. In fact, the broadcast media get many of their story ideas from the pages of newspapers. But the traditional newspaper business is dying and in most markets there is only one daily newspaper. What results is an accumulation of power among a handful of executives and editors who decide what's news and what isn't.

This unhealthy dynamic exists in my hometown, although technically The Miami Herald isn't the only paper in the market. We actually have 4 daily newspapers in the area but two are Spanish-language papers with relatively small circulations (one of which is owned by the same publisher as The Herald) and the other is the Sun-Sentinel, which mostly serves Broward County.

I have observed the Herald for some years and frankly at times I am embarrassed that this is the best that can be offered to our community.

This blog exists to document any issues or controversies related to The Miami Herald, its policies, and its editorial decisions. This isn't going to be a traditional blog filled with the author's personal thoughts and opinions. It will simply try to document the goings-on at The Herald and let the readers decide.

The only way this blog will work is with audience participation. You'll notice the link that says, "Send in a tip" in the sidebar. There's no way I can read the entire paper every day or notice everything that is said in the paper. That's why I need outside input. I promise to investigate any submitted tips to the best of my ability. I will also allow guest bloggers if you would like to contribute a story.

Lastly, I want to acknowledge the slogan at the top of this blog: "Taking a peek over the shoulder of the Miami Herald." It's a tribute to Phil Hendrie, who was a local talk radio host in Miami several years ago. When he left the market, his show became syndicated nationwide. Hendrie was known for the funny characters he would portray as guests on his own show. As the host he'd be interviewing himself doing a phony voice. One of these fake guests was Jay Santos of the Citizens Auxiliary Police, an overzealous community watch group. The CAP slogan was "We take a peek over the shoulder of the police."


Anonymous said...

Henry, great idea! Don't forget that the fake Reuters pics from the recent Lebanon war were also uncovered by bloggers. They may deride us, but they better watch their backs.

Anonymous said...

im sure im gonna get some flack for writing this, but aruca for years has mentioned on his show how articles that appear both in the herald and el nuevo have discrepancies between them, mention facts in one, but not the other..

Henry Louis Gomez said...

Yes, it's a dammning condemnation of the Herald. In my opinion they do not publish many articles in the English version that are accurate fair reports from the Spanish paper that could possibly influence the non-Spanish speakers among us to understand why the Cuban-American residents of our community act the way they do vis-a-vis the castro regime.

Case in point, El Nuevo published Carlos Alberto Montaner's response to the Corral Herald article but the Miami Herald has not done so to date.

Similarly, they have not published Ernesto Betancourt's letter of resignation. If the firing of the journalists was of interest to Herald readers (one assumes that's why they ran the story) then why isn't the response of some of the principal actors in the story?

Anonymous said...

I don't mean this to sound like a disrespect to Miamians, or Floridians in general, but I lived 2 wretched years there and have absolutely no love for the place.

One - of the many - pet peeves I had while there was The Herald. My Lordy! Forget the stories, so much of the writing itself was of the "What I did last Summer" type.

So bravo for keeping a watch on this - excuse my hostility - rag of a paper.