Tuesday, February 28, 2006

John Grogan Dogs The B.S. List

I swear to God on a stack of King James-version Holy Bibles that I was already calling John Grogan’s book “Tuesdays with Marley” and was planning to post about it today or tomorrow. But Romenesko showed me this morning that Philadelphia Magazine beat me to the punch.

I noticed on Sunday that Grogan, a former Sun-Sentinel Metro columnist, was No. 1 on the New York Time bestseller list. His book is titled "Marley and Me" and it's a cute little heartwarming story about his now-deceased dog that he began writing about in the Sun-Sentinel in 1993. The subhead of Jessica Pressler's article in the Philly Mag sort of sets the tone: "How a not-so-good Philly columnist became America's best-selling author." Pressler points out that in his newspaper work he doesn't do a lot of reporting and tends to state the obvious (an actual quote: "murderers = bad, especially men who murder women and children"). And she describes his weird 1950's sitcom aura. Put it this way: If the Body Snatchers came back, Grogan would quickly be writing about the joys of putting his children to bed in their new pods.

He was a Sentinel columnist when I got to town. He wasn't horrible, just not-so-good. Take this line from a 1994 column: "Tomorrow is Thanksgiving, and most of us have more blessings to count than we may realize. Sure, things could be better; they could also be a lot worse."

Okay, that is horrible. But Grogan always was a mix of Reader's Digest and Family Circus. And when you think of it like that, it's not surprising that he's captured America's heart. Now if only the damn place would grow a brain.

Feeding The Beast

Been negligent on keeping an eye on Herald Web duty. Looks like reporter Theresa Bradley has taken over for Jasmine Kripalani on the popular morning Internet beat. This morning she had a hot one though: An ice cream guy gets shot by robbers in Miami Gardens. Naw man, that's cold.

Story of the Day

I liked the story by Elinor J. Brecher in the Herald about the smoking guy but I'm giving it to Bill Hirschman's little ditty in the Sentinel about protesters picketing a new spoof called Date Movie, which depicts a young couple beating a homeless man for kicks and giggles. It's nothing more than a serviceable short article but Hirschman is damn near heroic in his description of the homeless protesters' tools of destruction: "Picketers held electric pink and chartreuse signs urging a boycott." That's writing, people. I mean, he could have used a simple and identifiable color like "green." Or maybe it was more yellowish, as some variations of chartreuse can be. And the other signs weren't just pink. No, they were electric pink. This wasn't a demonstration, it was a disco. Who knew a small mob of angry street people could be so fabulous?

A Blast From the Past

The main post is coming up later, but thought I'd give you this to chew on this morning from unofficial Pulp correspondent Wyatt Olson:

Your Gregg Fields postings reminded of something I wrote back in September 2002. Well, "wrote" is too strong a word. We reprinted some of the postings from the Herald's internal message board about the arrival of Mario Garcia to make over the paper's design. Fields' reaction was a beautiful thing, and you can almost hear him banging on the doors of academia. Here's his post:

"The Herald has hired consultants numerous times since I've been here, ostensibly to 'brainstorm' about ways to 'improve' the newsroom. In each and every instance, it has resulted in cuts to staffing, salaries, and news hole. If these outside instant experts on journalism want to see what we'd do with fewer resources just recount to them the joys of that wonderful downsizing/buyout that occurred last year. Mention to them that we've experimented with salary freezes, hiring freezes and shoving good people out the door, and it turns out those approaches do nothing for quality.

Just a suggestion: Maybe when we play this camouflage game, someone could say: 'It's impossible to envision fulfilling our journalistic mission with even one less dollar or one less person than we now have.' Sorry if it sounds cynical, but I've been to this parade before, and the emperor still isn't wearing any clothes. Happy brainstorming."

Also, somebody asks below in a comment that we "compare and contrast" this story in the Sentinel (by Ian Katz) and this story by John T. Fakler in the Daily Business Journal. I see that both stories deal with these dubious television production companies in Boca Raton and a shady deal with Michael Douglas (showering at right). But the compare and contrast thing sounds too much like an essay question to me, so I ask the poster: Go ahead and tells us your point.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Bruce Springsteen Used To Be Cool

From the worth-reading file:
-- This story (Of the Day) by Tal Abbady in the Sun-Sentinel about a man who was murdered in his brother's trailer in West Palm Beach. He'd complained about the quality of his crack cocaine to a drug dealer. Abbady gives us great details -- a "pint-sized Virgin Mary" in front of the trailer, a neighbor in his "Sunday church suit" consisting of a pink blazer and striped tie" -- and this quote: "It's like the Night of the Living Dead here," he said of times he's found people roaming the block late at night strung out on drugs. "We had a guy living here who used to ignite a bottle rocket to announce that his shipment had come in."

-- I was tipped by a distinguished reader to this weekend story in the Herald by Andres Viglucci. It's a great piece of reporting on apparent manueverings by the City of Miami to thwart a bid to stop a condo project on the Miami River. What I like about Viglucci is that he understands the nature of politics.

-- The stories about the man who killed three people for their money in both the Herald and Sun-Sentinel were right up the Pulp's alley and have been pretty well done. But in the inaugural article by Brian Haas on the Sentinel's front page Sunday, the fellow is called a "serial killer" by an FDLE guy. The Herald used the same term. From the Internet (which is never wrong):

"Definitions of serial killer:
-- someone who murders more than three victims one at a time in a relatively short interval wordnet.princeton.edu/perl/webwn

-- Serial killers are individuals who have a history of multiple slayings of victims who were generally unknown to them beforehand. Their crimes are committed as a result of a compulsion that, in many but not all cases, has roots in the killer's (often dysfunctional) youth, as opposed to those who are motivated by financial gain (e.g. contract killers) or ideological/political motivations (e.g. terrorists). Many times, this compulsion is linked to the individual's sexual drive."

This guy only has three under his belt (that we know of) and he did it for money. He's no serial killer. Just a particularly virulent sociopath and thief. And his girlfriend (pictured right) is promptly being added to my "Scariest-Looking Bitches of All-Time" file.

Be Afraid, Be Very Afraid
And for the Headline of the Year (So Far) Award, we go to the story on burglary (yeah, it's that general) in the Sentinel on Sunday: "Burglars know all the ways of getting into your home." The lede, by Nicole T. Lesson: "It can take a burglar less than 10 minutes to get in and out of your home -- taking along some of your most valuable and sentimental items." Let your mind play with that one the next time you're having trouble getting to sleep. Incidentally, Lesson is the same scribe who penned the story last month under the headline: "Report Unusual Activity." It's all part of the Sentinel's new "How can we increase your vague sense of paranoia?" ad campaign.


Lastly, I also had to include this photo that was published in the Palm Beach Daily News (and which I saw via the illustrious Stuck On The Palmetto). He's definitely not in Nebraska anymore.

The Miami Herald's Man In Iraq

Say hello to the Miami Herald's newest foreign correspondent, Dexter Lehtinen, who is writing dispatches from "the front lines" of Iraq and Afghanistan for the newspaper. The first deception is that Lehtinen isn't on the front lines: He's traveling with a Congressional delegation that isn't about to see a glimpse of combat. But there's bigger problems with Lehtinen's work for the newspaper.

Ol' Dex is a former state house member and U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Florida and the husband of Republican Miami congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen. Ileana was a cheerleader for the Iraq War and her husband also happens to be a right-wing ideologue who played a key role in the dirty campaign to paint John Kerry as a traitor for his anti-war stance in the early 1970s.

Lehtinen, a Vietnam vet and retired commando, spoke at politically charged rallies (the photograph above shows him on C-Span at a "Kerry Lied While Good Men Died" event) and spent more than $50,000 of his own money to publish anti-Kerry advertisements in military publications. "This is the portrait of a man who has failed to come to terms with his treacherous past," Lehtinen wrote in the ads.

It's a free country -- and Lehtinen certainly knows the value of good propaganda. Only now the Herald is publishing his jingoistic crap as journalism in its pages. In its "About Dexter Lehtinen" explainer, the Herald doesn't mention his political activity or his wife's support of the war. So the uninformed reader sees the piece headlined "Detainees Treated Well In Facility" and lines like "This is a military to make America proud," without knowledge of his extreme political bent. It's the Herald's equivalent to Fox News' "War Stories with Oliver North." Who's the Herald's next hire, G. Gordon Liddy?

But I've got to say that some of Lehtinin's writing is hilarious. The piece posted Sunday was all about the importance of roads in Afghanistan. To illustrate his point, Dexter wrote: "The 1960s movie The Graduate will always be remembered for one word -- 'plastics.' The new college graduate was told the future was in 'plastics.' So, too, Afghans see their future in one word, and the recent [congressional] visit will be remembered for that one word -- 'roads.'"

He must have missed how that line about plastics was meant to sum up the corruption and pointlessness of adult life in America.

Mostly, though, Lehtinen's stuff is just depressing. He passes almost all of his observations on the Iraq War through his Vietnam prism, which is sadly appropriate. Unfortunately this stuff isn't appropriate for the Herald.

(More To Come Today)

Friday, February 24, 2006

The Siren is Calling

I've been wanting to point you all toward a blog entry at one of my favorite Florida sites, FLA Politics, for the past few days. It's about GOP lobbyist Justin Sayfie's supposedly non-partisan political news site, The Sayfie Review. Both Sayfie and FLA Politics are listed on the blogroll at right, by the way.

Cougars? I know them by another name, and it doesn't stand for Mighty Interesting Lady Friends.

Also, there's one more story for grown-ups that I think needs to be read today. It's an intelligently written ditty by the Sentinel's Chris Kahn and it's about evolution, baby.

And finally, in the spirit of the weekend, I present to you a gift courtesy of Norman Gitzen, the creator of The Siren. It's a photo of the new, surgically enhanced mermaid. Gitzen sent it to the Pulp specifically for your wonder and enjoyment. Sadly, the new additions will be removed when it's returned to its home at the Wellington Community Center.

Ain't she purty?



FAU Newspaper Editor Steps Down

Sticking to the subject of college journalism in South Florida, the Florida Atlantic University newspaper -- the unimaginatively monikered University Press -- is about to get a new editor. FAU grad student Jake Smith, who works part-time at New Times, has stepped down because, as he told me, "it is inundating my entire life, and I can't afford it anymore." He says the job takes 20 to 30 hours a week and pays just $150, making it almost untenable for someone working their way through school. A recent power play made by student government, which oversees the newspaper, didn't help matters either. Read the basics about it here (a story by Palm Beach Post reporter Kimberly Miller but now can only be linked at the Miami Herald. Go figure). Realize as you're reading the story, though, that things are much more contentious than the article makes it appear.

The newspaper's advisor, the matchless Michael Koretzky, is handling things at the University Press and Smith tells me that two students -- Jason Parsley and Rachael Joyner -- are now vying for the position.

Speaking of Koretzky, he's overseeing the First Annual Media Job Fair for SPJ tomorrow afternoon at the Hard Rock Casino in H-wood. In what is an unmistakable sign of the apocalypse, I'm going to be there to talk with the students, along with a bunch of other "media professionals." Hey, Koretzky promised me free drinks and I'm going to hold him to it. It starts at 1 and there'll be a panel discussion at 3 featuring WPLG-Channel 10 political reporter Michael Putney among others. For more details, click here.

While I'm pimping journalism gatherings, thought I'd give a warm Pulp plug to the upcoming Florida Press Club-and-SPJ-sponsored enterprise reporting seminar to be held in Fort Lauderdale in a few weeks.

Worth reading today:

-- Kevin Deutsch of the Post fills us in on the other homeless beating, the one that occurred in Riviera Beach. An arrest warrant was issued for the 17-year-old suspected ringleader in the Feb. 7 attack of 36-year-old Thomas Kotowski, who remains in critical condition. But this wasn't a planned attack on the homeless -- it was just a random thumping on the street. Thank goodness for that. Otherwise it would have been a little bit disturbing. Also, it was three black teens involved, which makes it stale news. Right?

-- Canker story in the Herald by Noah Bierman, Dan Christensen, and Phil Long (how's that for a power trio). A sentence that never should have had to have been uttered, ever: They're going to let people plant orange trees in Florida again. Let's call this one Story of the Day.

-- Nikki Waller's well-done article in the same paper about Davie's decision to keep town attorney Monroe Kiar, despite his conflicts of interest. I may be wrong, but I think it's the first story to repeat Elgin Jones' scoop about Kiar's private work for councilwoman Lisa Hubert (no credit was given, for those of you keeping score).

-- And in the Sentinel, we have Scott Wyman's story about how millionaire rental car company CEO William Lobeck got hit with a $130,000 tax bill. Why? He took homestead exemptions on two mansions, one in Tulsa, the other off Las Olas. Never thought I'd say this, but I'm starting to dig what Lori Parrish is doing.
-- Talk about things I never thought I would do: I'm actually going to recommend a Dave Hyde column. It's here and it's about Sasha Cohen. That's all I can bring myself to say about it at this time.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Fields: Impending KR Sale Influenced Decision

Senior Herald business reporter Gregg Fields, who is leaving the newspaper to start a business journalism program at Florida International University, graciously sent me the Pulp this note on his impending departure from the Herald. As might have been guessed, Fields can be counted as at least a partial casualty of the Wall Street games being played on Knight Ridder:

"I will be leaving the Herald in August, altho' I hope to write guest columns if they want them on economic subjects. And I may even do some freelance editing during breaks, etc., if they're short-handed.

I will have been at the Herald for 19 years as of March 9. As I recall, I wrote a story my first day -- about the problems Chalk's airline was having. My first front-page story was later that week, about how the phone cable to Cuba was disintegrating. For either of those stories, I'm pretty sure not much has changed.

Obviously, the impending sale of Knight Ridder played a part in my decision. The Knight brothers and Alvah Chapman produced an incredible corporate culture, and Jim Batten was just a profound CEO and person. But Wall Street doesn't seem to put much value in journalistic values, I suppose. [Ital added by The Daily Pulp].

On a personal level, the Herald's newsroom is ten-foot deep with bright, funny, talented people and working there provides an intellectual stimulation that probably only a university can match. So my plan is to love my new job as much as I loved my old one. And I'll continue going to Mike's restaurant at the Venetia Plaza every Tuesday for the cheeseburger special, to get my fix of calories and the even more delicious newsroom gossip."

Go to Main Pulp Page for more on Fields, journalism news, opinion, and humor.

Herald's Gregg Fields Headed To FIU

Senior business writer Gregg Fields is leaving the Herald to head a new business reporting at Florida International University. And Fields crafted some hellacious, Pulp-worthy quotes in a pair of press releases sent out by FIU to promote the new student mill.

First the requisite "It's all about the people" line:
"I believe business journalism is exciting because, in the end, it's all about people," Fields notes. Whether it's Donald Trump announcing a skyscraper, a shopkeeper concerned about a new mega-store coming to town, or a single mother trying to juggle a job and day care, business journalism has the power * and the responsibility * to delve deeply into social and economic issues, bring injustices to light, and never forget that the ultimate impact is on people. In serving them, we achieve journalism's highest calling.''

And he fulfills global corporate gobbledy gook requirement:
"In an era of globalization and rapid technological change, journalists must be prepared to cover the economic trends that are reshaping society and the world."

How could he forget about promoting the university while he's at it:
"FIU and Miami are the perfect setting for a business journalism program," says Fields. "They provide a multicultural exposure other schools can't match. We're one the country's most diverse universities, in one of the world's fastest-growing hubs of international business. That means our students get an early glimpse of America's destiny * and the professional skills to cover it.''

And, lastly, the hardcore journalism cred quote:
"Whether you want to cover health care, the arts, banking or politics, the first step is knowing how to follow the money, '' says Fields.

The Pulp wishes Fields great luck. A program like that can only be good for newspapers in South Florida and I think that Fields, who has a reputation as an intelligent and thorough journalist, was a good pick.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Lois Frankel And The Ice Dancers

A few stories worth reading in the papers this morning:

-- Buddy Nevins does a good job of detailing the outrageous severance package the North Broward Hospital District is giving outgoing CEO Wil Trower. He's not only going to continue to get his half-million-dollar salary, but he's also getting raises and holiday and vacation pay for not working. Honestly, I try to get away from the district, but they keep pulling me back in.

-- The Miami Herald's Fred Grimm's take on the BSO stats-rigging trial. This is one of those slow-motion car wrecks that nobody can seem to stop (read the courtroom dailies by Wanda DeMarzo and Paula McMahon, too). And it proves that neither Sheriff Ken Jenne nor State Attorney Michael Satz are fit for office. That may sound extreme, but it's just plain true.

-- The Post's Pat Beall and Sonja Isger prove that Mayor Lois Frankel -- or Finkel as I Freudianly mistyped in the original post -- has become a tyrant. Or perhaps she's hitting Division Street. Finkel is trying to make a deal to sell city hall to a hand-picked developer and use the money to buy a new governmental palace. And she formulated the plan during stacked, secretive meetings. Hell, I'm going to go ahead and make this the story of the day. Unbelievable.


Also, check out this correction from yesterday's Sun-Sentinel.

Let's see, two Olympic skating couples get their ID's switched on photos in Monday's Sports section. Standard mistake on the surface. Still, something drove me to dig into it and my investigation uncovered a tape of the phone conversation between skater Maurizio Margaglio and the editor who answered his phone call from Turin.

MM: Hello, Sun-Sentinel?

SS: Yes.

MM: Maurizio Margaglio from Italia, the ice dancer. You had a picture of me and my partner dancing in the Olympics. But it was wrong.

SS: Oh, I'm sorry. Give me a moment. Let me see, oh yes, I see the page here. What's wrong with it?

MM: Well, you got the couples mixed up.

SS: Yes, you're the fellow falling on his face, right?

MM: No, that's not --

SS: -- Actually, you're doing a faceplant into your partner's armpit. Where the poor girl looks as if all her fragile hopes and dreams have just been shattered?

MM: No, you see, that's not me.

SS: Oh. Okay. So you must be the one trying to hold up a young woman you just dropped to the ice like a sack of beef quarters?

MM: Yes! That's me.

SS: So let me make sure we get this right. You're the one whose head is getting twisted in the angry hand of your partner after you threw away four years of incredibly hard work with one slip of the hand?

MM: Exactly! I don't want anyone to be confused. I'm Maurizio Margaglio of Italia, not Povilas Vanagas of Lithuania and I'm dancing with Barbara Pusar Poli, also of Italia, not Margarita Drobiazko, who, like Povilas Vanagas, is from Lithuania. My head is being nearly twisted off my neck by a furious Pusar Poli while Povilas Vanagas is crushing his nose into an utterly devastated Drobiazko's armpit.

SS: When you put it like that, it seems amazing we ever made the mistake at all. I'll correct it immediately.

MM: Ciao!

SS: Sayonara!

Stories of the Day

Stories of the Day

This is the first Story of the Day not going to a reporter who is employed by a South Florida newspaper. At least not technically. Maya Bell is the South Florida bureau for the Orlando Sentinel. It's an envy-producing gig to be sure. She basically works solely on big stories and issues that interest her. But if anyone deserves such a wonderful job, it is Bell (whose husband, Robert Nolin, waxes poetic for the Sun-Sentinel). She's a dedicated reporter and talented writer, easily one of the best journalists in South Florida. And the story of hers this week (yeah, I'm a little late with this one) is an insight-inducing look not only at what's happening now but also at what the future holds for the area. It's about people who commute five hours a day to work menial labor jobs in the Keys.

The basic theme is continued in this article by the Sentinel's Brittany Wallman (see previous posts if you don't know her connection to me). Wallman writes about Fort Lauderdale's dabbling with the idea of extending housing welfare subsidies to people making up to $70,000 a year. It's the Californication of South Florida.

Honorable mention goes to Robert P. King of the Palm Beach Post, who wrote a great piece on "radical animal activists" who go after people and companies who hurt animals during research with a vengeance. They even stoop to gluing people's doors shut, those scoundrels. King got this great quote from the reputed mastermind: "I hope our movement doesn't cross that line into actually killing somebody," Atwood said. "I just don't shed any tears if he had a bump on his head." This would have been story of the day had it not been a follow-up to an article in the London Times. But if you want to see an example of how good a folo can be, read King.

Judy Judy Judy

Recently received correspondence from someone in the news business up north who was disappointed about the Pulp's silence on the AP's hiring of the Herald's Judy Miller as its national editor. Here's what the fellow, who didn't want his identity disclosed, wrote:

"No coverage of Judy's departure? It's as welcomed by the Herald's staff as her namesake's was at the Times, despite the blind item in Miami New Times a few weeks back. Try to find an actual working RESPECTED journalist at the Herald who has something good to say about her. You won't. She was given a head's up so that she could find a job before she was frog-marched out the door, and she did. The Associated Press? Puh-lease!!"

Then another to-remain-nameless journo-writer sent me this:

"Here's a subject I'd love to see the Pulp sleuth into: the "promotion" and odd AP lateral career move of the Herald's Judy Miller. First the heir apparent to the paper's editor-in-chief-ship gets bumped upstairs and out of the Miami newsroom in the wake of the Art Teele/DeFede fracas. And now she jumps ship altogether. I've heard so many opposing opinions over the past few years, from folks who saw her rise as a possible return to the Herald's Eighties glory days to writers at their wits end. I'd be interested to hear DeFede's thoughts, since she reportedly went to bat for him."

Yes, the Miller's move is weird to those of us who don't punch a time clock at One Herald Plaza. I've heard all kinds of things about Miller. That she backed DeFede, who handed that fateful tape recording of the Teele phone call to her. That she's a real journalist. That she's a terrible corporate crony. She's good. She's bad. She's honest. She's corrupt. Let's air this out (in a respectful way, pls) and bring her into focus. Who is the real Judy Miller and what's the story behind her exit from the Herald?

Closing CenterOne

Where there is suffering, where there pain, where there is a need in the night -- there are rip-off artists. Today's stories by Scott Wyman and Erica Bolstad on the Broward County commission vote to close CenterOne, which cares for AIDS patients, help prove it. But there was something in the Bolstad article that caught my eye. This quote: ''I looked at your client list and people who are serviced by your agency, and the sad thing is, a lot of those people I know,'' said Broward County Commissioner Josephus Eggelletion.

What, do privacy laws go out the window when it comes to elected officials? Did all the commissioners see the list of AIDS patients? That sounds wrong to me, considering the cut-throat nature of politics and the sensitive nature of that information.

A Haunting Picture

I'll have the Story of the Day a little later, but today there's a very special photograph to honor. The dominant art on the Sentinel's front page was heartbreaking. It shows the mother of BSO Deputy Ryan Seguin, who was killed during a traffic stop last week, crying on her son's casket. But what is absolutely eerie and amazing about the photo is that the blurred badge on the arm of a deputy standing guard at the casket looks distinctly like one of those Greek tragedy masks. It's one of the most amazing things I've seen in a long while. Congratulations to Sentinel photographer Anastasia Walsh Infanzon. You can see the picture below, but it's much more striking in the actual newspaper.

And One More Thing

If you haven't seen Romenesko, this just in about Jim Mullin. He's leaving the San Luis Obispo newspaper after the Meth madness. But what's crazy is he wasn't even there. The guy was editing the newspaper from Miami Beach. Running a newspaper from 3,000 miles away? That may have been the first mistake. But Mullin has overseen amazing work in his career. I'm betting he lands on his feet. Good luck, Jim.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Look At All This Nasty Fat!

Nothing really turned me on this extended weekend (Monday was a holiday for NT). Carol Marbin Miller keeps firing on all cylinders. Andrew Marra's story about a 16-year-old murder case was interesting as hell, too. But I'm going with Daphne Duret's article, also in the Post, about a drunk mother assaulting her 12-year-old son outside a Winn-Dixie Stuart. According to the arrest report, the mother "turned to her son and told him that everything was his fault and he was a weak piece of (expletive)" before attacking the boy physically and calling him "fat" and "weak."

The story resonated with me because I always hate to see mothers yell and smack their children around in grocery stores. I was so moved that I drove to up to Stuart to find the family and, thankfully, found them in peaceful repose. I even took this picture:

Bad Credit

And this in from unofficial Pulp correspondent Wyatt Olson:

“How about a companion category to your Story of the Day? Perhaps you could call it Stifle of the Day. Case in point: The Sentinel's choke on the Martin Lee Anderson beating video. The story covered the front page of Saturday's Herald, but nary a graf was to be found in the Sentinel, despite the video's release making national news on Friday.

Sure, this story was Carol Marbin Miller's baby, but the Sentinel's blinkered approach is hardly a service to readers. Not that the Herald is above the same thing. As the Sentinel made hay about the FEMA rip-offs in Miami-Dade County after the 2004 hurricanes, the paper of record in that county never dug into that story. Strange thing is, the editors of both papers routinely feel the need to send reporters for day-late follows of picayune stories published by the competitor.”

It’s just more evidence pointing to the fact that newspapers are way too territor

ial, petty, and stingy when it comes to dishing out credit or sharing big news broken by local competi

tors, large and small. And all it does is cheat readers.

Shooting Harry

I thought y'all might want to see how easy it is to shoot Harry Whittington in the face.

Onward Cristian Soldier

Silence in Buddy Nevins' Saturday's column on his conversion to the GOP and his being saved as a (Charlie) Cristian. But today, Buddy and the Sentinel sent a strong message about what they think about criticisms of the political writer's speech to the Lauderdale Beach Republican Club:

Speech? What speech?

Nevins did his first "straight" story on the governor's race this morning, writing about the Gallagher camp's anger over the Broward County GOP's endorsement of Crist. Didn't mention that Nevins had done the same thing. If this isn't dripping with irony, then I'm Alanis Morissette.

The Sentinel is proving itself once again to be a strictly amateur operation. I want y'all to consider if a real newspaper's political writer made a similar speech (like, say, the New York Times' Adam Nagourney). He'd be reassigned in a NY minute.

But it could be worse for the newspaper. The Herald's Beth Reinhard could be writing for the Sentinel. The best way I can describe the effect of Reinhard's lightweight ramblings on politics is to advise you to listen to this song, "If You Talk Too Much (My Head Will Explode)." If I read too much Reinhard, my head threatens to crack open. Take this Saturday's column on Ben Graber's imminent departure from the Broward County Commission. We have rampant corruption in Broward County, okay? Special interests and lobbyists are plotting to make fortunes on taxpayers' backs and most of the commissioners are bought and paid for in one way or another.

It's an ugly situation, but here's Reinhard's giddy take:

"The music began to play and politicians throughout Broward started moving from chair to chair, sizing up their chances. Dominoes will fall when a city commissioner or School Board member decides to campaign for Graber's seat and give up their own. But everyone's waiting to see who will go first.
And finally the dance, when some brave person flings a sombrero into the ring.
Let the games begin!"

It just went. My head exploded.

(More to come today).

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Pacenti Headed To Rehab

Okay, you can throw out the idea that Palm Beach Post investigative reporter John Pacenti may have been doing “research” for a hard-hitting report when police nabbed him for trying to buy crack cocaine.

And forget any romantic notion that police framed Pacenti because he was getting too close to corruption in the force.

No this one is simple and straightforward: Pacenti has – or, hopefully, had -- a drug problem and his arrest Thursday after work is probably the best thing that could have happened to him.

The reporter, who is out of jail on bond after being charged with a felony, phoned me this weekend and told me he is going to get help. “I’m taking family medical leave and I’m going to seek treatment,” he said, adding that he’s thankful to his newspaper for its support. “I’m taking it one step at a time. I just want to get healthy for my two girls and my wife Charlene and I’m pretty dedicated to that right now.”

Pacenti, whose wife works at the Miami Herald and whose two daughters are ages two and six, didn’t want to discuss his arrest on Division Street, where police say he asked an undercover officer for twenty dollars worth of crack cocaine (or “twenty hard”). He just wanted to tell everybody that he’s devoting his life to healing himself and saving his family.

“My depression took a nasty turn in January and that’s how I got to this point,” Pacenti said.

I'll keep an eye on this, but there's not much else to say. Hopefully the law will allow him to clean up and care for his family. Hopefully the Post will stand by Pacenti all the way and he'll be back writing soon. And hopefully he'll never return to that hellish shit ever again.

Olympic Metals

Who redesigned the medals? Why did someone say, "You know what, Olympic medals need to look like donuts."
And why did someone else have to say, "Great idea, but I think they should look more like CDs, only with giant holes."
"You mean like junk? Brilliant!"
Seriously. I have photographic evidence. Here's what they used to look like:



Regal, classic, beautiful. Right?







And here's what they look like now:

A piece of junk, no? (Okay, this is a "photo illustration," or, to be even more literal, a "picture of a metal washer," but it inarguably helps make the point).

Friday, February 17, 2006

PB Post Cocaine Charge

Palm Beach Post investigative reporter John Pacenti, one of the star journalists in that newsroom, was charged by the West Palm Beach Police Departent this morning with attempting to purchase cocaine, a felony.

Post Editor John Bartosek is on vacation this week, but Managing Editor Bill Rose did talk briefly with the Pulp about the arrest of the 39-year-old reporter, whose booking photo appears at left.

"We are aware of the arrest and I don't think we can talk about a personnel matter," Rose said, adding, "John is a very good reporter and has done a lot of good work for this newspaper."

There will obviously be more to come on this. I just hope that Pacenti, who I have found to be an excellent journalist, is okay and that everyone can withhold judgement until the facts come in. The Pulp wishes John only good during these trying circumstances.

UPDATE:
West Palm Beach Lt. Chuck Reed just faxed over the probable cause affadavit on Pacenti's arrest. According to police:

Pacenti was arrested in a sting operation Thursday during which both West Palm Beach and Riviera Beach officers posed as street dealers. Pacenti pulled up in his silver-colored 1999 Infiniti at 6:40 p.m. on the 700 block of Division Avenue, near an intersection that Post crime reporter Andrew Marra described as the "heart of the inner city where drugs and guns are common" in a story published this past November. (That story was about police use of surveillance cameras and their plan to install one at that intersection). He pulled up to one of the undercover officers and asked for "Twenty hard," which police described as "street terminology for twenty dollars worth of crack cocaine." Pacenti then handed the officer a $20 bill and was given fake crack in return. The officer gave the 'Go' signal to the arrest team and Pacenti was apprehended. Police found the cocaine in his left shirt pocket and he was taken to jail.

He Hate Me

Just for some fun, I thought I'd share a charming little note some unnamed human-like pile of electrified meat sent to my New Times e-mail address yesterday evening. I have no idea which story prompted it:

DATE/TIME:February 16, 2006, 5:16 pm
SUBJECT:How Yellow is your Spine Norman?
LETTER:
May your mother die a horrible death for shitting out genetic scum like you.You have no right to breathe let alone live as an American. The day they eliminate "journalists" is the day real Americans will be safe.Now go fuck your daughter or the nearest infant. That is, after all, what you liberal euro-whores prefer.
PERSONAL INFO:
spit on youdeadliberals ca
liberalsfucktheiryoung@killaleftydaily.com
666-666-6666

I know this is an old-hat criticism, but why does it seem that everyone who sends veiled death threats or hate letters claiming that I'm a coward do so anonymously? I'll tell you why: They know I'd take them down. Oh yeah.

In The News

The state of the Sentinel was strong today, but the front page was a little nauseating. Dominating above-the-fold territory was a story about waits for Wilma-related auto repair. Don't get me wrong, it was a fine story, written by Mc Nelly Torres. But it was obviously overplayed and too do-goody and pandery (uh-huh, the Pulp makes up words when it feels like it). Over the package was the phrase: Consumer Alert. And then a box (you know how we love boxes) titled: "News You Can Use." Why don't they just break into our houses and stick a spoon down our throats? Yuck. And another thought: Don't you think everybody who had car damage after Wilma knows they're waiting?

On the Local front, Jon Burstein and Sean Gardiner had a good scoop about Adam Kidan visiting Big Tony Moscatiello after the mobster was arrested for killing Kidan's business rival, Greek dynamo Gus Boulis. The question: When is Kidan going to be charged with murder? He's the only connection between Moscatiello, the ringleader of the hit, and the murder victim. What does the prosecution think, that Moscatiello pulled off the best-executed and most elaborately planned hit in recent Broward County history as a favor to Kidan. I don't know what's going to happen here, but it's Pulpalicious.

The Sentinel also had the story, written by Buddy Nevins and Bob LaMendola, about the ouster of North Broward Hospital District CEO Wil Trower. But it felt a little rushed and sort of slapped together. The Herald, behind Beth Reinhard, Erika Bolstad, and Samuel P. Nitze, did a much more thorough job on the sorry Trower's long overdue pink slip. And that makes it the Story of the Day. The Pulp isn't for chest-beating, but I uncovered more stinking corruption in that place than you could shake a stethoscope at. And give Jeb Bush credit: He cleaned house. Now, when is the state attorney going to finish his investigation into Dorsey Miller?

Two last things: The Herald's Ashley Fantz had a weird (in a good way) story about apparent "space junk" hitting a house. And on page 3B, Scott Wyman and Buddy Nevins shared a byline. I'll leave it at that for now.

Done Herald Plaza

Got an e-mail from a homey in the business yesterday urging me to do an in-depth piece on "life now at One Herald Plaza." To wit:

"With an impending sale, the place is more depressing than ever. I would imagine that many of the writers still feel sold out by Fiedler for DeFede’s firing, and it would be interesting to see the overall mood of the place. As well, publisher Jesus Diaz would be a very interesting profile – he is really a numbers cruncher, and no media has attempted to understand his vision and leadership at the Herald. I think the Teele suicide/DeFede firing still casts a long shadow over that place, and an examination of life at the Herald now would serve the South Florida community well."

Journalists seem to expect the worst. DeFede told me he expects the Herald to be sold twice and basically dismantled over the coming months. And people tell me that Buddy Nevins, at the infamous GOP meeting last week, predicted that the Herald would become a tabloid.

As it happens, I've been trying to get some accounts from Herald writers about what it's like these days, with the sale looming. I've received a couple of responses from reporters saying that everyone is worried. Wrote one, "I suppose my biggest concern is over the anxiety that this has created in the newsroom (more than the usual, anyway) and the possibility that some of the paper’s very talented reporters and editors may be scared away from the paper or the profession all together."

There were other comments about a de-emphasis on hard news and an emphasis on radio and Internet reporting.

The feeling of powerlessness is palpable. The paper may have gone down in quality since its heyday, but all things considered, it's still one of the better daily newspapers in America. I would hate to see what would happen if a Gannett got ahold of it. What are other people thinking?

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Barry and Me

Heads-up: Gonna be on the Barry Epstein Show this morning at 10 a.m. Or at least that's the plan. The bloggy beast is making it impossible to get to the studio in Boca at that time, so I hope good ol' Barry is amenable to a phone interview. Epstein's show is on WWNN 1470 AM not long after conservative sparring partner Steve Kane. But Barry, an always working political consultant who has a political gossip column in the Boca News, isn't interested in a fight -- he just likes to tackle issues. We'll rap about politics, the Pulp, and, alas, most likely Buddy's conversion as well.

(As an aside, I'm digging the snowboard cross in the Olympics. The purist in me has pretty much resisted the X Games influence on the winter games but this is just flat-out racing. No judges, no cute loop-de-loops, just guys flying down the hill crashing all over the place. What's not to like? Seth Westcott's pass to win the Gold was sweet).

What Was He Thinking?

Got the story on Sun-Sentinel political writer Buddy Nevins’ speech to local Republicans. Lauderdale Beach Republican Club founder and former president Bob Wolfe told me he invited Nevins to the club on Feb. 6 to speak and was “stunned” by what the columnist said at the meeting, which morphed into something of a Nevins-led GOP pep rally.

First he announced that he’d abandoned the Democrats for the GOP, which led to cheers. A member of the audience asked him why he’d made the switch. According to Wolfe, Nevins’ answer was, “To vote for Charlie Crist in the primary.”

Crist, of course, is running a pitched battle with Tom Gallagher in the Republican gubernatorial race to replace Jeb Bush. I don’t need to explain here the implications. Nevins’ spends most of his time doing straight political reporting for the Sentinel rather than his weekly nuts-and-bolts, non-ideological column. And now he’s publicly backed a candidate in the state’s most important campaign -- which he has covered as a reporter this year. To say he’s compromised his stance as an unbiased reporter would be an understatement. The Gallagher folks and the Democrats will feast on that little tidbit.

But Nevins wasn't nearly finished. He then told the Republican room that there was a “liberal” bias in the Sun-Sentinel newsroom. To prove it he pointed out that there were a lot of gay and lesbian employees working there.

“But he took a lot of questions from the crowd and he basically made comments that the media is liberal,” Wolfe told the Pulp of the meeting, which wasn’t recorded. “And he made some comments about how people wore their sexuality on their sleeve in this community and especially in the newsroom and that it reflects the liberalism [at the Sentinel].”

To illustrate his point, Nevins mentioned that he used to sit next to the president of the gay and lesbian journalists’ association.

Wolfe said that as Nevins was making his comments, he worried that a member of the Log Cabin Republicans who was in attendance would be offended.

“I didn’t personally view it as a bigoted remark,” Wolfe said. “I think Buddy was just playing to the room. I just don't like to see sexuality brought into the discussion at all.”

The Sentinel, by the way, does employ numerous gay and lesbian reporters and editors. While Wolfe is forgiving, I wonder how this will play in the newsroom.

When it was over Wolfe, a moderate Republican, said he was waiting for Nevins to break it to the room that it was an April Fool’s joke. “I think his comments stunned a lot of people in the room,” he said.

I asked Buddy for a response yesterday afternoon and haven't heard back from him. In some ways I admire Nevins for speaking his mind. And I know he has integrity as a reporter, no matter which party he belongs to. But I also think the speech was a terrible lapse of judgment, especially considering the audience.

And I think it’s a pretty good bet we’ll find out more in his column this coming Saturday.

Story of the Day

Once again, we have a no-brainer today, though it's buried on page 6B of the Sentinel. Reporter Angel Streeter does a pitch-perfect job telling about recent developments involving the The Siren statue in Wellington. In case you don't remember The Siren, I've added a pic. Streeter writes that artist Norm Gitzen, or "her maker" as Streeter puts it, has "added enhancements: nipples." Now that's what I call a, um, twist in the story. "Now, she will be complete," says Gitzen, who is apparently a mix between Frankenstein and Larry Flynt. But Gitzen will have to remove the nipples before it returns to its regular roost at the Wellington Community Center. Said Krisztine Ergas, who works there, "[The nipples] would not be appropriate." Any guesses as to what Ergas actually called them?

To Main Page

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Sunset Lounge Revisited

Well, the Palm Reader stirred up a little dust in her debut yesterday. Some people didn't think PR's (what an unfortunate acronym) criticisms of the Post were particularly fair or relevant. Look, don't jump on me. This is a professional -- and sociological -- experiment, an inside look at the war being waged in Palm Beach County between the Post and the Sentinel. I'm just here to document it.

And today the Palm Reader brings up another interesting issue. A few days back, I got a little humorless and complained about the lack of attribution by the big newspapers of the smaller press in South Florida. But what about the Big Three? They rip each other off mercilessly. The Palm Reader points to yesterday's story about the storied Sunset lounge by the Post's Eliot Kleinberg that is headlined "Can Sunset reclaim glory?"

Basically the same story ran in the Sentinel two months before, on December 15, penned by Leon Fooksman under the headline "Will the sun set on Sunset?" Here's what P-Read said about it: "Eliot did a good writing job on this, though. I just wonder whether the Post would have known about it had Leon not done the story first."

I agree that Kleinberg's story is very well-told, which isn't that surprising if you're aware of his work. But the stories are also very similar. Is there a legitimate gripe here? Or is it just the nature of the beast?

The Story of the Day

The Story of the Day was pretty easy to choose -- it's Jose Lambiet's column in the Palm Beach Post about Ann Coulter. The hate-sprewing, Joe McCarthy-loving propagandist apparently voted in the wrong precinct in Palm Beach County and certified a false address to do it. As the inimitable Lambiet reports, lying on voting forms is a third-degree felony. Mind you, this is the same woman who incessantly made fun of Palm Beachers for being too stupid to vote correctly on the butterfly ballot of 2000. She's so tough on crime, then give her a taste of her own medicine. If she certified a false address, a place in which she had never lived, then charge her with a crime. Then she can strategize with Abramoff and Libby in the big house.

Buddy Strikes Back

Before posting Monday about Sentinel political columnist Buddy Nevins switching parties to the GOP, I sent him an e-mail asking him why he’d done it and if state Rep. Bogdanoff, the Republican who has employed Buddy's his son Aaron for the past two years, had anything to do with it. Turns out the columnist was out of the office through Tuesday and didn’t get my message until yesterday. And he answered the e-mail, asking if I was still interested in his answer. I told him my latest prediction: That he would leave the Sun-Sentinel by the end of the year to work for a Republican politician (we can only hope it's not Dick Cheney). And, since he’s covered more politics than any single reporter in recent Broward County history, I challenged him to shake up the town until the day -- whether it be six months or a decade from now -- that he departs from the Tribune Company.

Here’s what he sent the Pulp:

“If I reveal why I became a Republican, I'm going to do so in my column for my South Florida Sun-Sentinel and Sun-Sentinel.com readers.

You are welcome to continue to speculate. Just spell my name right and mention I work at the Sun-Sentinel.

I will answer two questions:

(1) I have no plans or thoughts about leaving the South Florida Sun-Sentinel and I have talked to no one about leaving.

(2) The conversion has nothing to do with my son Aaron Nevins. Aaron doesn't live at home and doesn't discuss his work with me. He's got his own life. His job with State Rep. Ellyn Bogdanoff was a major surprise to me since she had complained about me to Sun-Sentinel Editor Earl Maucker on more than one occasion.

Keep on blogging.”

There you have it. Now personally, I wouldn't want my son working within 1000 yards of any South Florida politician, Democrat or Republican. It’s a dirty, soul-sucking business. But Buddy is embracing party politics more than ever, according to a couple of sources. I’ve heard he recently addressed a Republican gathering and took the opporturnity to skewer Democrats.

Hopefully he'll write that explanatory column soon -- and let's hope that he takes the challenge seriously.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Release the Tape!

Good on the Miami Herald for suing to get the videotape of the beating of the youngster who died at a boot camp in Bay County. And I think it's an open and shut case -- as soon as they let two legislators see the tape, everybody should see it and I think case law backs that up. When this comes out, it's going to be everywhere (as foreshadowed by CNN joining the case with the Herald). And when it's released, the inestimable Carol Marbin Miller should get a few First Amendment awards.

The Palm Reader's Debut

Well, the anti-Palm Beach Post person has come forward, with an example of allegedly bad journalism from the paper up North. The source says that this story about Scripps from Post reporter Thomas R. Collins is nothing but a piece of biowaste. The source, who we'll code-name "Palm Reader," says this about the article: "The thing I found particularly bad about this story is that it seems to push a management agenda -- it's not in the Post's interest to have Scripps in Boca, because they long ago ceded Boca coverage to the Sentinel, and Jupiter (the other horse in the Scripps race) is in their backyard. The Sentinel doesn't care either way, since they're looking to follow Scripps to grow circulation."

Well, I suppose you can guess where Palm Reader is coming from. But it's definitely an interesting take -- and the Pulp is a sucker for a good dust-up.

Story of the Day

Nice report by Susannah A. Nesmith in the Herald today about a bunch of school employees -- including some teachers -- in Broward and Miami-Dade who were involved in a grade-fixing scandal at Florida Memorial University. I love ironic shit like that. But the story of the day goes to the Sun Sentinel for the tag-team coverage by Jon Burstein and Mike Mayo of the freeing of Broward lawyer Adam Katz. Katz was the poor fellow -- and father of six children -- who was sentenced to 60 days in jail by Broward's Chief Prig, Circuit Judge Cheryl Aleman. It's official: We all just have to hate this bitch.

Boca Spews

You've got to read this about a mix-up in a Boca Raton News story pro wrestling impresario Vince McMahon. Co-editor Dale King reported on February 3 that McMahon had been accused of groping a tanning salon employee. In it he also reported that McMahon was seeking a divorce from his wife. Well, that was only true in wrestling la-la land, apparently. The Long Island Press broke the story in this week's edition about how the News had mixed up fact and TV fiction. What I find most interesting is that the other News co-editor, John Johnston, told the Press that it wasn't the newspaper's fault because it had been reported on -- ugh -- TV. So the News just lifted it and then refused to correct it because, Johnston said, you can't do a correction on a "farce."

Tut-tut

In my personal e-mail box, I got a promotional ad from the Miami Herald about a new "King Tut After Dark" exhibit. The subject line was "Have you seen Tut yet?"
Quoth:

Two incredible Tut offers from The Miami Herald.
"Florida's Hottest Ticket"- ABC Miami
“A Breathtaking Experience"- J.C. Mena- Miami, FL
The King Tut
The King Tut exhibition has received rave reviews and has already set a new attendance record for Fort Lauderdale. Over 400,000 people have already purchased tickets for this once in a lifetime collection. King Tut will be leaving soon. Take advantage of one of these two incredible Tut offers!

The only problem with the Herald ad: It's full of stinking lies. King Tut (pictured right) is NOT HERE. He has never been here. Nobody around here has seen him yet. And the Boy King won't be leaving either. Because he is not here. King Tut is in Egypt. There have been huge advertising campaigns in the Herald, Sentinel, and New Times, but this is the most blatant lie I've seen about Tut yet. It just goes to show: Don't ever trust the Herald.

(More to Come Today)

Monday, February 13, 2006

The Party's Over

It’s official: Sun-Sentinel political columnist Buddy Nevins is a Republican. He recently changed parties and admitted it to Elgin Jones (a check with the elections office found that Nevins made it official on February 2). I guess it was only a matter of time. I mean, who can resist the charms of George W. Bush? His brilliant rhetoric and unmatched wit, his partiality to the rich, his turning the surplus into the greatest deficits ever … it’s appealing, dammit.

And if all that didn’t ensnare Nevins, there’s the rampant corruption, ala GOPer Jack Abramoff, who has also been caught up locally in the SunCruz battle that ended in the murder of Gus Boulis. And, in the coup de grace, there’s the Iraq War. It’s like Mortal Kombat, only in real life. All that meaningless death and destruction has magnetic power, I tell you. And the beauty of it: It’s going to cost America a thousand billion dollars, a lot of it going to Bush’s favorite contractors. That ties into the deficit – see how cool it is?

Yes, if ever there was a time for a thinking man to become a Republican, it is now. But cynics might suggest that Nevins has cozied up to the GOP because his son, Aaron, is gainfully employed by Republican state legislator Ellyn Bogdanoff (pictured at right), whose 91st District cuts a swath through Nevins’ stomping grounds of Broward County. Aaron has been working for Bogdanoff for at least two years, but that hasn’t kept Nevins from writing about her, usually without disclosing his son’s employment position.

Before Aaron got the job in 2004, shortly after graduating from the University of Florida, his pappy had already seemingly fallen in love with Bogdanoff, one of the “Steel Magnolias.” What's a Steel Magolias? I’ll let Buddy answer the question from column in 2002:

“The Steel Magnolias are a trio of tough women who have made a specialty of running low-budget, grass-roots political campaigns against candidates well-funded by the lobbyist crowd. The name comes from a 1989 movie about friendship among women in a small Southern town. Flowers sent anonymously are their calling card. It's their way of crowing that they have once again beaten the special interests. Their message is simple:Money isn't everything in politics. Good candidates can win with hard work. The three-piece suits with the fat billfolds can be beaten.”

Yeah, Buddy loves him some Magnolias, even though they’ve played the same dirty political games as everybody else. Hell, Nevins himself wrote about Bogdanoff’s dirty tactics in a 1998 state Senate race against Steve Geller. He gave her a “Turkey Award” for claiming Geller was soft on crime and sending out ads that were criticized as racist. Before that he wrote about how she’d changed her moderate views to conform to the GOP, embracing school vouchers, stopped calling herself “pro-choice,” and was running “one of the slipperiest campaigns seen here in decades." He outlined every one of her dirty tricks, too.

But hey, but that was back when Nevins was a Democrat and his son was still in high school.

The change thing seems a part of Nevins' steady decline over the past several years. Don't get me wrong -- Nevins is an institution in Broward County and has a long history of great journalism behind him. His work has been invaluable. New Times named him "Best Daily Newspaper Columnist" in 1999. But more and more Buddy, who has been at the Sentinel since, like, the end of the Vietnam War, doesn't delve into the deep dark spots of Broward politics. That kind of journalism is a tough and trying business and he's lost the drive for it. In a way it seems he's given up -- and there's no better place for a resigned suburbanite than the GOP.

Olympic Pain
Send Dave Hyde to Turin, Italy, and all he does is carp like he's at Dolphins Stadium. In today's
column, emblazoned on the Sentinel's front page, he whines about America's losses (by the aptly named Ohno and drunken master Bode Miller) just like he does after football losses. I'm surprised he didn't mention that he almost threw up, one of his recurring techniques. And he did it through the eyes of a couple from Denver, Co. That's right, Hyde traveled overseas to interview a couple from Colorado. Thankfully, the Sentinel also sent Mike Berardino to the Winter Games. Berardino is sort of Hyde's Jeckyl -- he brings sensibility and humanity to Hyde's ghastly journalistic sprees. I recently said I would mention the area's good sportswriters. Well, Berardino is one of them.

Palm Beach Blackout
To the person who keeps complaining that I don't do enough to criticize the Palm Beach Post: You're right. It's a weak spot in the Pulp's early days (but soon there will be a barnburner about the Post that I've dug, so be a bit more patient). Here's what I want you to do: When the Post commits a journalistic crime, you send it to me and if it holds up, it'll run in the Pulp. Think of all the raw power you'll have. It boggles the mind. Seriously, I'm not too proud to admit a need for help. And don't worry: I won't say who you are (though I think I already know). We'll come up with a pithy nickname and start calling out all the imPosters on a regular basis.

Story of the Day
It comes not from any journalist, but from an Air Force sergeant from Pompano Beach named Douglas Herman, who wrote an op-ed in the Sentinel speaking truth to power. It's a beautiful and courageous thing and it should be required reading in the high schools. Because if this illegal "preemptive war" shit doesn't stop, the kids will pay the price.

Fiddling Fiedler
This just in from unofficial Pulp correspondent Wyatt Olson:
Friday's Herald story about Ana Veciana-Suarez. The judge really threw the book at her for lying under oath about her father's drug conviction.

According to the Herald story, the judge called her offense "extremely serious" because "she lied under oath, noting that Veciana-Suarez regularly wrote a column that focused on values such as honesty, trust and integrity. He said her position as a Miami Herald columnist was like that of a clergy person or a school teacher, making her a member of a 'special class.'"But it was no big deal for Herald management.From the story:

"Miami Herald Executive Editor Tom Fiedler said he will not take any action against Veciana-Suarez.'Ana's record of integrity spanning more than 25 years with The Miami Herald has been without blemish," Fiedler said. "This single act, for which she has expressed genuine remorse, did not occur in the course of her duties or responsibilities as a journalist. As a result, this isn't an issue in which The Miami Herald needs to become involved.'"

A "single act" and "genuine remorse" sound mighty familiar to Jim Defede's post-Teele suicide comments. Obviously Fiedler is tacitly defending firing Defede in this statement, but it's absurd on its face. How is lying as a juror less egregious than flipping on a phone recorder? I'm not arguing that Veciana-Suarez should be fired, but the executive editor has clearly painted himself into a corner with such glaring inconsistency.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Credit Is Due

No question the Pulp is focused on the Sentinel, the Herald, and the Palm Beach Post. But there are a whole lot of other publications in South Florida and the Pulp, unlike the often myopic and arrogant Big Three, isn't going to ignore them. You have a lot of quality journalists out there, many of whom simply don't fit into the often colorless, official, corporate world of the MSM.

I could go on and on about the New Times, for instance, but since this isn't a navel-gazing operation, I won't. Suffice it to say, the Big Three often, um, borrow our stories without attribution. (Actually, I'm not sure that is has happened so much with the Post, so I'll call it the Big Two for now). Look at the Daily Business Review, which routinely busts out news that the Big Two habitually rip off. Reporter Julie Kay is one of the cogs of that machine. Check out the Sentry in Pompano, where Ross Shulmister (pictured left) and JP Bender (forebears to the legendary Ed Foley and his Ledger) are continually calling out the powers-that-be on their ridiculous shenanigans. Even the Plantation Forum, one of those Sentinel-owned community rags known more as a Chamber-of-Commerce vehicles, has been doing a good job covering the city's union-busting tactics against paramedics. (Please send in other examples of good "small journalism" in town if you have them).

But today the Pulp especially honors the Broward Times, which is the best black newspaper in Broward County (see this about its ridiculous rival, the Westside Gazette). The BT's star reporter, Elgin Jones, runs circles around your average daily newspaper reporter. The man is relentless and resourceful as all get-out, a walking primer on the power of will. He's sparked a handful of State Attorney's Office investigations and turned upside-down the City of Fort Lauderdale. He's always controversial, from his mostly right-wing political views to his eternal muckraking. I could write for a week about Jones, so I'll leave it for the curious to look him up on the Internets, as our commander-in-thief calls it.

As it happens, our Story of the Day comes from Jones, who filed an excellent report about Davie this morning. The article is so hot, it's not even on the Internets yet, so I'll link it as soon as possible. It's another Chris Kovanes-related ditty, but it focuses on Town Attorney Monroe Kiar, who did legal work for one of the accused embezzler's shell companies. Jones dug deep and found out that Kiar has also done legal work for a company owned by city councilwoman Lisa Hubert. Here's what Hubert told Jones: "I paid him [Kiar] that work and I only wanted an attorney I could trust."

Yes, and, good for her, it was also an attorney with whom she holds sway over hundreds of thousands of dollars in pay. I wonder if that has anything to do with why Kiar has been so zealously supporting Hubert in her reelection campaign and got into a news-making fracas with her opponent, Bryan Caletka.

A note to the Sentinel and Herald: Please try to cite the Broward Times when you follow the story. It's the right thing to do.

This Just In: Jim Mullin, former editor of Miami New Times, can't catch a break. After the Teele controversy in Miami, he heads to San Luis Obispo New Times (which, oddly, isn't owned by NT/Village Voice) and immediately stirs up a hornet's nest by publishing a "how-to" story about crystal meth. Here's his apology, which was just posted on Romenesko.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

The Stepford Sentinel

In a prickly little screed, the Sun Sentinel editorialists write today of the St. Thomas Aquinas/Myspace.com suspensions thusly: "... someone has to protect kids, and St. Thomas Aquinas High School deserves credit for stepping up."

It'd be nice if the Sentinel would explain what precisely they were protecting the kids from. All the newspaper has printed is a half-baked story that a dozen students were suspended for putting "mean" stuff on Myspace. And from this, the newspaper is calling for public schools to start punishing kids over Internet postings. How can the editorialists make such a judgement if they haven't seen the offending material? And if they have seen it, why the hell hasn't the Sentinel published it to let its readers form their own opinion? The Sentinel is not only disgracing itself, but it is insulting its readers.

Thank goodness that a teenager, on the same page as the awful editorial, brings some intelligence to the witch hunt. David Hall, who is described as a 2005 graduate of St. Thomas Aquinas, writes in a letter to the editor that the "mean" stuff was actually about teachers. "The actions taken by [Principal Tina] Jones and the rest of the administration show a massive abuse and an intrusion into the privacy and freedom of speech of individual students. How can a school continue to teach American government and preach the merits of constitutional rights if it violates them itself."

Better than anything the editorialists have done all year.

Free Ana!

In yesterday’s Miami Herald, columnist Ana Menendez called out an editor. Or at least that’s the way I read it. Y’all know Ana. An author of a couple of well-received books that harken back to her parents’ Cuba, she weaves poetry in fish wrapper. Ana brings some much-needed intellectualism in South Florida and has some fun at it, too. How can you not like the opening line in yesterday’s offering:

“Remember Piss Christ?”

Later in the same column she writes, “Ever since Thomas Paine published The Age of Reason, the modern era has been marked by tension between those who defend the idea of the sacred and those who would transgress the boundaries of the acceptable.”

That’s the kind of sentence you would have written in college if you were worth a good damn.

Here’s the part of the column that really got my attention, though: “I have been harshly criticized for poking fun at George W. Bush's intelligence. How far are my rights infringed upon when a reader asks that I be fired for this transgression? What if an editor asked me to cool it?”

Oh, so a Herald editor told Ana to lay off that war-starting, filthy rich-boosting, health-care-stealing Bush? That’s just the kind of thing the Pulp can’t abide. I wanted to know what no-good scalawaging washed-up corporate gasbag tried to put the clamps on true talent. So I asked Ana about it in an e-mail. Here’s her reply:

“As I recall I mentioned the editor as a theoretical, no? Hmm. That's as far as I'll go until my book The Inside Story comes out...I'm kidding, a little. I wish I could help you out more, but I have a policy of not expanding or explaining the columns. There's a reason they only give me 600 words and I think it best all around if I let each column speak for itself.”

So close. For a second there I thought I was going to score a Pulp exclusive. But I’m still taking that thoroughly endearing rejection as a concession that some brow-beaten mid-management mugwump gave her the ol’ slow-down on the president.

It’s all quite obvious. So, “editor,” don’t you make me come down there. Leave Ana be.

Little Bastards

Looks like it happened again. Dedicated crime reporter Andrew Marra writes in the Palm Beach Post that a 36-year-old homeless man was pummeled at a phone booth by three assailants described as "young men or teenagers." That's one reason they need to lock up the three baseball batterers in Broward for the rest of their lives. Simply as a deterrent for other punks.

Release the Tape

Speaking of vicious beatings, Carol Marbin Miller, the "Miami Herald Watchdog," does a bang-up job -- in our Story of the Day -- covering the release of a videotape showing 14-year-old Martin Lee Anderson in Bay County juvenile facility. It's a powerful story that's going to explode nationally when the tape is released to the public.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

The Pulp Fends Off Sidewindermans

It's not everyday the Pulp is going to consume itself with the previous day's post. In fact, this will almost surely be the last. But the Ira Winderman post drew a lot of comment on a variety of issues. I responded to a lot of it yesterday, but that was pretty much futile. And after today, I'm not going to spend much time at all commenting on what people say. So have at it.

That said, most of the pro-Winderman comments were racked with the "deeply flawed logic" referenced by the first commentator. Now I'm going to tear apart the criticisms of the Pulp's Winderman post:

1. I only picked a couple of critical posts from Winderman's blog to use in my case, but ignored a post that called Winderman a "Riley hater." First off, this isn't Fox News -- I don't need to be balanced and don't aim to be. God help me if I ever aspire to "objectivity." I'll leave that for tables, chairs, and "pro" beat writers. Whoever called Winderman a Riley hater (I'm assuming it's true since I haven't actually seen it) is obviously an idiot. You see, on the Pulp we don't parrot people who are both stupid and blind. Winderman routinely treats Riley -- who could have him fired from his job at Sun Sports in a heartbeat -- with kids' gloves. Anybody who says otherwise has issues that can't be dealt with on the Pulp.

2. One angry poster mentions that other sportswriters have similar deals. I was glad to see some examples. I could be wrong, but I think everybody mentioned -- Vescey, Stephen A. Smith, Wilbon, etc. -- works for ESPN. That's apples and oranges. ESPN is, of course, a huge national company that contracts with the NBA, not a specific team. Winderman is a beat writer who works for Sun Sports which has a contract with the very team he covers. ESPN has commentators who trash teams and players all the time. Sun Sports, because it is so beholden to the teams it contracts with, is purely a booster operation. To compare the two is assinine.

3. The idea that I'm somehow jealous of Winderman or going after him because I compete against him is silly. Number one, I don't compete against him. Number two, I don't know Winderman and wish him all the best personally and in his career. But his work for Sun Sports is ethically indefensible and a conflict of interest. It's that simple.

Look, the be-all end-all is that the guy shouldn't be working for Sun Sports. Anybody who gives a damn about ethics in journalism feels the same way. There's a reason every single post for Winderman was anonymous: Nobody wants to put their name to a corrupt idea.

And so I've used up most of my Pulp time this morning. A couple things that stand out in today's papers: Chan Lowe's editorial cartoon is a gas (you can check it out from a link on the home page of the Sentinel) and the Story of the Day is this terrible tale about the apparent murder of a Curious George writer. Just more proof that the enchantment of youth, as the Pulp always says, leads inescapably to violence and despair. But it reminded me warmly of the good old days, when our cartoon characters crashed after smoking reefer in the evening time.