By: Joe Strupp
Jes?s D?az Jr., president of The Miami Herald Media Co. and publisher of The Miami Herald and El Nuevo Herald, will resign immediately, the Herald reported today, adding that his departure ?ends a challenging and sometimes tumultuous 14 months? as head of the papers.
In addition, in an unusual reversal of punishment, El Nuevo Herald plans to reinstate two former reporters who had been fired for accepting payments from two government-supported media outlets ? Radio Marti and TV Marti.
The paper also reported that an internal probe determined that six other employees of the Spanish-language El Nuevo Herald received payments from Radio Mart? and TV Mart? during the past five years. But it added that no disciplinary action would be taken against them.
The Herald reports that approval for such payments had been given from Carlos Casta?eda, an El Nuevo Herald editor who died in 2002.
Instead, the paper plans to bar those nine or anyone others at the company from accepting money from the government-backed broadcasters in the future, D?az said, and that ?conflict-of-interest policies will be strengthened throughout the company.?
”While I still believe that the acceptance of such payments by the nine journalists was a breach of widely accepted principles of journalistic ethics that violated the trust of our readers, our policies prohibiting such behavior may have been ambiguously communicated, inconsistently applied and widely misunderstood over many years in the El Nuevo Herald newsroom,” D?az wrote in a letter to readers, in which he said he would grant those fired reporters ?an amnesty.?
David Landsberg, who served as general manager, takes over today as company president and publisher of both newspapers.
In a letter to readers in today?s papers, D?az wrote that the company would grant ”amnesty” to the reporters and a freelance contributor who were forced out Sept. 7 when The Herald reported that they received the payments under contracts with Radio Mart? and TV Mart?.
The paper revealed that the internal probe ?suggested that the circumstances surrounding the journalists’ actions were less definitive than he and other managers originally believed. That, he said, required a reversal in the company’s response.
”It has been determined that in fairness we should extend an amnesty to all involved and enforce our policies more forcefully and consistently in the future,” Diaz added.
The two employees who already were terminated said some supervisors knew of their work for the government broadcasters, though the two did not recall specifically discussing payments, the paper reported.
D?az also wrote that therecent uproar had impacted the newsrooms of both newspapers and ?ignited heated debate in the Cuban-American community.?
”I realize and regret that the events of the past three weeks have created an environment that no longer allows me to lead our newspapers in a manner most beneficial for our newspapers, our readers and our community,” D?az wrote. “Therefore, I informed our parent company of my intention to resign as soon as my replacement could be found.”
Two top executives of The McClatchy Co., which owns El Nuevo Herald and The Miami Herald, flew to South Florida on Monday and plan to meet with employees today, the paper said.
”We hope that people recognize that this is an opportunity for a new start that, among other things, will provide a clear enunciation of a very clear policy that absolutely will be applied going forward,” said Howard Weaver, McClatchy?s vice president for news.