TUESDAY’S LETTERS: ‘Nuevo Herald’ Columnist on Recent Newsroom Upheaval, No Trust for Bloggers

By: E&P Staff

In today’s letters , one reader questiosn the value of the media using local blogs to help find out what is going on in Iraq, and an El Nuevo Herald writer responds to the recent uproar at his paper, giving some additional context to the matter.

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Blogs as Sources?

Referring to your article on Iraq blogs and the guy Zeyad’s request that the media start using blogs as news sources: Why would anyone take for granted that what is posted online in a blog is the truth? Who is this guy Zeyad? Is he even a guy? Maybe he’s a plant from the CIA. Who has verified anything in his, or others’ blogs?

That’s the main problem with using anyone’s blogging as actual, factual news. Blogs are just one person’s interpretation of what he/she saw or experienced. If I say I am a decorated war hero in a blog, does that make it so? I can use any name I want and no one questions. I can make any statement I want and no one questions.

Also, from the few Iraq blogs I have seen, if the Western media starts taking the tone of these then it faces further condemnation as left-wing liberals. The blogs I have read paint an even darker picture of what Iraq is like than shows up in print. The media would be opening itself up to serious questions about its news gathering methods and political orientation.

Anything pulled from a blog for broad publication should be labeled as such, with a caveat that the information has not been verified by other sources and thus is not reliable.

Ken Anderberg
Communications News
Nokomis, Fla.


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‘Nuevo Herald’ Writer Responds to E&P Piece

The Miami Herald reporters angered by the re-hiring of Spanish journalists at El Nuevo Herald, as reported by Joe Strupp, have more reasons than that one to be ?unhappy.? In just 14 months, the Herald has changed publisher and holding company, and has fired one of its own columnists for ethical violations. …

That the safety and identity of many in the newsroom have been threatened by these events [is made clear by] the words Tom Fiedler, executive editor of The Miami Herald, expressed to Strupp as he explained that some of his reporters felt they were being treated to a different standard when Spanish journalists were re-hired.

After Jesus Diaz Jr., the Cuban American publisher of both newspapers announced that none of the journalists involved in the ethics code violation would be punished, Fiedler “said some of his reporters were angered that El Nuevo Herald reporters were given such a pass,” [wrote] Strupp.

About a year ago, Miami Herald columnist Jim DeFede was fired for violating ?ethical standards? by Diaz. This action was criticized as ?too harsh? by many in the newsroom, but DeFede was not re-hired. Diaz announced his resignation at the same time he re-hired the Spanish journalists. …

Fiedler added that ?all journalists should know there was a bright line not to cross.? But The editor didn?t explain who draws the line at The Miami Herald, how this ?line? applies to the three reporters who worked for El Nuevo Herald, and to seven other journalists who work for other Spanish media and contribute to a federal broadcasting agency as reported by the Herald. …

Fiedler?s reporters appear as self-appointed sole interpreters of the Herald?s Ethics Guidelines and they judge negatively the Spanish journalists professional behavior according to such an interpretation.

One of the explanations Fiedler gave Strupp regarding the re-hiring also points to a feeling of insecurity and a need to reassert the sense of belonging and group self-esteem at the expense of El Nuevo Herald journalists, this time by appointing themselves as practitioners of objective journalism and judging Spanish journalism as ?advocacy journalism,? an euphemism for slanted, biased, journalism.

“They [El Nuevo Herald journalists] really do have a different sense of mission, they are serving a different audience and they begin from a different place of what that newspaper?s role is,? Fiedler told Strupp. ?Their operating paradigm is to be more of an advocacy paper as it regards democracy in Cuba.? This view is also supported by an article published by Christina Hoag in the newspaper before. …

The Miami Herald editor didn?t explain to Strupp why he considers democracy in Cuba — democracy is a core value of a free press — a matter of advocacy. El Nuevo Herald does not have editorials and opinion columns in its pages hold the same concerns and hopes newspapers like The Miami Herald and The New York Times express in their editorials in regard to democracy in Cuba. These newspapers are certainly not considered practitioners of advocacy journalism.

In this context, Fideler?s remark regarding his Spanish broadcasting journalist critics as ?chihuahuas? puts him at the head of the inflammatory environment of fear and subsequent bias toward Cuban Americans in the newsroom, the same that started with the appointment of the Cuban American publisher, his dismissal of DeFede, and the year it took for The Miami Herald to change hands to McClatchy Co. Fiedler apologized for his choice of words. …

The prevalent perception in the newsroom of certain Cuban Americans as the threatening “Other” resulted in an attack to the credibility of another business owned by the same holding company and an anomalous relationship with part of the consumers the Herald serves. This attitude — if proven to be true — is morally unacceptable and it surely won?t increase the value of McClatchy stocks neither improve the public service both newspapers provide to the community.

Soren Triff

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