Monday, April 27, 2015

The way we were...Gene Dodge writes a letter to the editor

Forty-nine years ago - before there was a Google - you could always write a letter to the editor of your newspaper if you had a question for which there seemingly was no answer.

At least that's what Gene Dodge did.

Miami News, May 5, 1966.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Obama at the White House Correspondents Dinner: 'I have something that rhymes with bucket'

A few of the best jokes from last night's White House Correspondents Dinner - via NPR:

1. The "Bucket" List: Obama said he's asked, " 'Do you have a bucket list?' I say, well I have something that rhymes with bucket."

Immigration executive action? "Bucket!" he deadpanned. Stricter climate rules. "Bucket!"

2. Those Grey Hairs: "I look so old John Boehner's already invited Netanyahu to speak at my funeral."

Meanwhile, First Lady Michelle Obama looks great, he said. "I ask her her secret. She says, [Obama employing a nasally voice] 'Fresh fruits and vegetables.' It's aggravating."

He also lamented that he has so much to do, like negotiate with Iran, "all while finding time to pray five times a day."

3. "Arrogant And Aloof": "People say I'm arrogant and aloof," the president said. "Some people are so dumb."

4. End of Times: "Michele Bachmann predicted I would bring about the Biblical end of days. Now that's big. ... Lincoln, Washington — they didn't do that."

5. Hillary Clinton: The economy's gotten so bad for some people, Obama said, "I had a friend, just a few weeks ago, she was making millions of dollars a year, and now she's living out of a van in Iowa."

6. The 2016 GOP Field: "The Koch brothers think they need to spend a billion dollars to get folks to like one of these people," Obama said of the potential 2016 Republican presidential candidates. "I raised a lot ... but my middle name is Hussein."

7. Reach Out And Touch A Veep: Talking about how close he and Vice President Biden have gotten, especially in stressful times, Obama joked that he loves Biden's back massages. "Those Joe Biden shoulder massages are like magic. You should try one." [Pause.] "Oh, you have?"

He added, "We've gotten so close, in some places in Indiana, they won't serve us pizza anymore."

8. A Third Obama Term (Sorta): Talking about how much he liked Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., who could run for the Democratic nomination for president: "Apparently people really want to see a pot-smoking socialist in the White House. We could get a third Obama term after all."

9. Dick Cheney: "Dick Cheney said I was the worst president of his lifetime, which is interesting because I think Dick Cheney is the worst president of my lifetime."

Saturday, April 25, 2015

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Friday, April 24, 2015

What a difference 24 hours makes...

Yesterday, the Miami Herald fired its outdoors writer, Sue Cocking...

But today on the paper's Facebook page, boating is called "an essential South Florida pastime ... "

So what's the deal, Rick and Mindy? If boating is so essential, why did you fire Sue?

Thursday, April 23, 2015

'Full-scale panic' at the Miami Herald

(Former) Miami Herald outdoors writer Sue Cocking. 

UPDATED Saturday, April 25: McClatchy’s stock continues to take a pummeling. "McClatchy shares have been trading between $1.50 and $1.60 the last several days. That is about half where they were at the start of 2015, and they have lost roughly three-quarters since this time a year ago." Put another way, a copy of the Sunday Miami Herald costs more than a share of McClatchy stock


UPDATED Friday, April 24: In its first quarter 2015 earnings report, McClatchy, the Herald's parent company warns of more layoffs: "Management noted that expenses may be reduced further if needed based upon the revenue environment."

And there's this from McClatchy's president and CEO Pat Talamantes: "In light of weaker print advertising revenues this year, individual newspapers are adopting additional cost reduction plans to achieve their budgets. We expect to have another challenging quarter in the second quarter before cash flow flattens in the second half of 2015."


The Miami Herald fired long-time outdoors writer Sue Cocking yesterday.

Before we continue, let's just stop for a minute and let that sink in: The executives at a newspaper in Florida - the Sunshine State - just fired a writer who covered the outdoors. (The paper, however, still has a dance critic.)

Retired Herald staff writer Elinor Brecher posted this on Facebook today:

More layoffs at the Miami Herald. Five years ago they cut through the fat into the muscle. They've been cutting through the muscle down to the bone ever since. Now they're dismembering the carcass. Heaven help the handful of news staff remaining if there's a Cat 5 hurricane or a major plane crash or any other big story. My heart breaks for my friends who lost their jobs - and for those who still try so hard every day to do good work. There's a special place in hell for the corporate bloodsuckers who get bonuses for figuring out how to destroy their underlings' careers --- and a once-great newspaper in the process.

I'm guessing that since 2009, at least 100 newsroom and HR staffers have been laid off, bought out, outright fired, strongly urged to retire, moved on to new careers (after seeing the handwriting on the wall), quit because they were about to be reassigned to crappy jobs and/or couldn't stomach the Doral move, which was the nail in the Herald's coffin.
And here's what retired Tampa Bay Times Florida writer Jeff Klinkenberg had to say on Facebook...trying to make sense of the firing of an outdoors writer by a newspaper in the Sunshine State:

You don't have to be a rocket scientist to know that the bean counters running Florida newspapers these days are not rocket scientists. Today's case in point: The Miami Herald has eliminated my friend Sue Cocking's job, outdoors writer.

S. Florida is arguably the outdoor sport capital of the free world, with thousands (if not millions) of residents choosing to live or visit there because of the fishing, sailing, offshore boating, birding, kayaking, hiking and even hunting. Sailors and fishers usually have money--their sports are expensive. They're just the demographic, by the way, most likely to read a newspaper.

Newspaper managers clearly are in full-scale panic and seem out of touch with readers. In fact, this makes me wonder if the Herald has given up.

Finally, could there be any connection between the Herald's disastrous management strategies, partly advanced by Executive Editor Mindy Marques, and the mysterious failure of Innocents Lost to make it to the finals of the Pulitzers, where she serves on the board? Keep checking back here for an answer to that question.

So, why should you care about any of this?

Here's why.

If things keep going the way they are at the Herald, pretty soon there won't be a Miami Herald and this is how you'll get your news...from goofballs like this guy.

Click to enlarge.

Miami Beach's long history of ridiculous, fun-killing laws

Illustration by Cindy
(Click here to enlarge)

As I watched Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine speak from the dais at last week's city commission meeting, I was immediately struck by two things: How little this mayor knows about anything going on in his city, and....

....despite the fact that Levine organized a multi-million dollar birthday party celebrating Miami Beach's 100-year history, it was apparent to me that he knows very little about Miami Beach's history.

At the meeting, the Mayor proposed a ban on liquor sales after 2 a.m at outdoor venues on the beach.

But as I write in a post on Miami New Times, Levine isn't the first Beach politician to introduce an ordinance designed to cure all of the city's ills.

Click here to read my entire post at Miami New Times.