[freedomtowernight_edited.jpg] 26th Parallel: Nuevo Herald Journalists Fired

Friday, September 08, 2006

Nuevo Herald Journalists Fired

It appears that Oscar Corral has come out of his hole with his big story (if I'm wrong, someone please correct me here).

The Miami Herald has fired 3 Nuevo Herald reporters for a conflict of interest involving payments received by the U.S. Government for reporting and broadcasting the truth about Cuba on TV and Radio Marti.

I'm with Marc here, it's an obvious conflict of interest which should not be permitted or condoned, regardless of the fact that the message they were transmitting was DEFINITELY the right message.

Let me make this perfectly clear: The reporters violated the ethical codes of their company and profession, and they deserved to get fired.

Still, I can't help but feel a little strange about this. Yes, it was a conflict of interest to what is supposed to be a free and independent press. However, let's not even think about moral equivalency here. Cuba's government press gets paid to disseminate lies and cover-ups about their employer's criminal deeds. The Nuevo Herald reporters got paid by the U.S. government to report the truth about injustices in Cuba and to promote democratic ideals.

I also wonder how much of this goes on unnoticed in the U.S. media, and not just during the Bush administration. (Florida Masochist wonders as well).

All this is very unfortunate because it once again shifts the focus from the evil castro regime to the acts of a few journalists and the big, bad imperialist United States. Smart people would of course not let this deter them from focusing on the real bad guys here. However, many more out there will see this as another example of the "Miami Mafia" sticking its big ugly nose where it doesn't belong.

It's unfortunate because in the overall scheme of things, "we're" right and "they're" wrong.

By extension, is suspicion raised of anti-castro bloggers as well, as Marc mentions? Of course, there will be those who will say yes. If that's the case, then we might as well indict the entire blogging community, especially political bloggers on BOTH sides of the American political spectrum. If we're going to mention this possibility, let's not just stop at anti-castro bloggers who type away at keyboards for free while sacrificing the rest of their private lives in order to bring light to the reality in Cuba.

My hope is that the dismissed reporters get hired full-time by TV and Radio Marti, with no conflict whatsoever.


Blogger Alfredo said...

what about those "journalist" or commentators on NPR who obviously are tilted way to the left and have the agenda to destroy the U.S are paid by U.S. taxpayers! They should be fired at once. No lefty gets fired for conflict of interest?

Something is fishy here!

11:25 AM, September 08, 2006  
Blogger Robert said...

That's a good point Alfredo.

11:33 AM, September 08, 2006  
Blogger Val Prieto said...

I dont know. Im a bit ambivalent about this as Radio Marti and TV Marti are both government run entities with a specific purpose and thus it cant be held to the same criteria as the "unbiased" free press.

11:46 AM, September 08, 2006  
Blogger Srcohiba said...

I think it's a crock. They were not paid to write pieces in their paper. They were paid to produce programs at Radio Marti and TV Marti. NO different that say a reporter for a mullet wrapper gets paid money from a magazine to write essays or from a tv network to produce a documentary.

Now if they had been paid by the govt. to write pro govt. pieces, then there would be a conflict of interest.

Does not appear to be the case here. And then why trash those other folks (not for the herald)...

11:52 AM, September 08, 2006  
Blogger Uncommon Sense said...

Val, you are correct.

Radio Marti and TV Marti are government-operated propaganda/information operations. It's there for everyone to see.

But these journalists also worked for organizations that place a premium on objectivity and on their credibility. If they are to remain viable operations, they cannot stand for their employees to place their credibility, and that of their newspaper or TV station, in peril.

I posted more in response to your previous question at my site.

Also, the NPR comparison is not a good one. While NPR does receive some public financing, its mission is not to tout the government's official position.

12:59 PM, September 08, 2006  
Anonymous NicFitKid said...

Call me crazy, but I'd prefer a clear firewall between direct government payments and professional members of the independent press. If any non-professional bloggers (i.e., not paid reporters) want to take government money, I won't stay up nights worrying about it. I'm sure fellow denizens of the blogosphere would out that pretty quick, and everyone would fall into line for the standard flamewar battle phalanxes; you know, business as usual.

As for the crack about NPR, have you even listened to them (or other producers of public radio content like PRI or APM)? Really, they don't want to destroy America, that's laying it on a bit thick. Heck, I had a few arguments with Miamista who accused them of being "whispery voiced Zionists." If they're pissing off this wide a range of the ideological spectrum, that sounds like honest reporting, which has the quality of angering any given faction depending on whose ox is gored.

As for the money, NPR, PRI, and APM and other public radio content producers don't receive direct federal funding. Their shows are purchased by local public radio stations (like our own WLRN). Those stations in turn also don't recieve direct federal funding. So where's the money coming from? Some from donations, and the rest comes from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, an independent non-profit that DOES receive federal funding. In this case, CPB is the firewall, preventing any given federal agency or politician from influencing, censoring, editing, or retaliating financially against any given producer, reporter, or broadcaster under the CPB's umbrella.

That distinction is important, because when journalists get in trouble it's for taking direct payments from a federal agency or an organization directly controlled by the feds. Like the Pulp said, that's the Big Daddy of journalistic no-no's because once that happens, it becomes unclear whether the reporter's loyalties stay with the story or with the feds who control when and whether they cut her a check. Would you trust a business reporter's stories on the pharmaceutical industry if he had a freelance gig writing press releases for Pfizer, GlaxoSmithKline, and Novartis? Probably not.

2:10 PM, September 08, 2006  
Blogger Jonathan said...

If there's a problem I think it's the lack of disclosure. (There may also have been a violation of the Nuevo Herald's employment contract but that is a separate issue.) I don't see why journalists can't be paid by multiple sponsors or employers as long as everybody, including of course the readers, knows what's going on. Conflicts of interest may be a problem, but if they are disclosed readers and advertisers can make up their own minds.

If you try to prohibit journalists from having any potentially conflicting relationships then you will exclude a lot of people who do excellent work. Business reporting is a good example of what I mean. Some of the best business journalists are people like Kudlow who are themselves successful businesspeople. Business journalists who are pure journalists, i.e., who are salaried employees for some business publication or network and have no conflicts, usually have much less on the ball than do the Kudlows of the business-journalism world.

4:57 PM, September 08, 2006  
Anonymous NicFitKid said...

Kudlow is not a journalist, he's a pundit, columnist, and commentator with a specific take on the intersection between business, politics, government policy and the economy. He's pushing his own agenda, which is his right, but conflating him with journalism illustrates just how murky the public's understanding of journalism has become.

Media has fragmented over the past decade. There are now many outlets by which many people may get their message out, whereas before, if you referred to the fourth estate, it contained a very circumscribed set of organizations and infrastructure inaccessible to the non-journalist. This change means the public hears many voices and sees many images competing for their time and, in many cases, competing for direct influence over their thinking.

The journalist pursues the story, the first draft of history (if you'll pardon the cliche). The regular panelist who comments on the events of the day, the columnist that angrily denounces his favorite enemy, the blogger that retells an MSM story for the purpose of critique and correction, none of these are journalists. Enlightening, infuriating, clever, funny, boorish, influential, or obscure, these may all be qualities of their work, but don't kid yourselves, they're not in the business of finding the news and piecing together a narrative that explains our time critically without fear or favor.

How many of our local blogs actually generate news? By that, I mean break a story (not an opinion about a story) that no one else has, including MSM. How many blogs do their own real reporting, developing the sources, the interviews, the research, the legwork? Wikipedia and net-accessible census data don't make us journalists, and a consulting company plus a few regular TV spots and columns don't make Kudlow a journalist either. It seems that nowadays we've completely forgotten that, and wouldn't be fazed by the sight of a pundit festooned with NASCAR style endorsement patches relating the day's news to us. Full disclosure indeed.

7:11 AM, September 09, 2006  
Blogger Jonathan said...

A lot of conventional journalists also have axes to grind but don't admit it. With practitioner-journalists like Kudlow you generally know what you are getting, agenda, biases and all. What's Maria Bartiromo's agenda? That's very hard for us to know; it depends on her sources' agendas, and how can we find out what they are? She won't tell us. She is a typical modern generalist journalist who doesn't have enough expertise in the field she covers to say anything valuable on her own, so she relies on sources who inevitably have their own agendas.

The quality of the information is not necessarily related to the reporter's job description or apparent conflicts. The guy with the apparent conflict may have a big stake in an issue, and therefore an intimate knowledge of it that makes him an excellent source of information. Meanwhile, the reporter who is on a salary, doesn't own the stock and has no conflict may be a second-rate hack who gets manipulated by his sources and has little incentive to get the story right. Or he may have personal relationships with people he reports on (as is often the case with big-time political journalists) that are known to everyone except the news customer. IMO the reader or viewer is best served by having a variety of information sources who disclose their biases so that he can evaluate what they say. Given the poor record of many respected journalists in getting simple facts straight, not to mention occasional instances of rank corruption, their complaints about bloggers and other competitors come across as a bit strained if not disingenuous.

6:25 PM, September 09, 2006  
Blogger Alfredo said...

have you really listened to NPR? C'mon they are so anti-US it's not even funny! This is an obvious planned attack by the dictator and his cronies. The Cuban-exiles are always the evil ones, while the dictatorship gets away with everything. The sad thing there many traitors in our midst! Very sad to betray your own brethren!

9:29 PM, September 09, 2006  

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