Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Defending the Indefensible

JG: Poor things! The Miami zealots are upset because three "journalists" at The Miami Herald, who took payments from the U.S. goverment in exchange for slandering Cuba, were fired.

What those three "journalists" should do is start another free periodiquito to keep the community supplied with inked toilet paper.


The Tribune, San Luis Obispo, California

Posted on Tue, Sep. 19, 2006
Cuban Americans protest firing of journalists

By Christina Hoag and Kathleen McGrory

McClatchy Newspapers


MIAMI - The Cuban-American community on Tuesday launched an Internet campaign and held a press conference to protest the Sept. 7 firing of three El Nuevo Herald reporters who worked as paid freelancers for TV Marti.

"We reject the efforts of The Miami Herald to silence our voice in Cuba," said Remedios Diaz-Oliver of the Cuban Liberty Council, at the press conference. "These journalists were professional and ethical. They brought their voices to TV and radio in an objective manner."

Also Tuesday, website urged visitors to sign an online petition and download a letter addressed to Gary B. Pruitt, president and chief executive of McClatchy Co., parent company of the Miami Herald and El Nuevo Herald. The letter requests that a panel be established to determine whether the Miami Herald should have fired the three journalists.

"Without resorting to a bunker mentality, we, nevertheless, feel that this action is one of the most blatant and direct rejections by The Miami Herald/El Nuevo Herald of our community and of our right to be represented by our own voices in the pages of the newspaper," the petition reads in part.

About 160 people had signed the petition as of late Tuesday. It was not immediately clear who established the website.

Howard Weaver, McClatchy vice president of news, said he could not comment as the company has not received any petition or letters. "If we're contacted, we'll try to be responsive," he said.

The Miami Herald and El Nuevo Herald reported Sept. 8 that 10 local journalists, including three from El Nuevo, regularly appear as paid program hosts or commentators on U.S.-government-owned Radio and TV Marti. Radio and TV Marti broadcast programs to Cuba in an attempt to undermine the island's Communist regime and promote U.S.-style democracy.

Miami Herald Publisher Jesus Diaz Jr. met Monday with Cuban-American leaders. And in a front-page letter to readers on Sunday, he said he approved the dismissals of the writers because "as the publisher of these newspapers, I am deeply committed to the separation between government and a free press."

He added that the employees violated the company's conflict-of-interest rules.

But many readers, particularly Cuban-Americans, feel the reporters were fired unjustly and too abruptly. As of Tuesday, 876 subscriptions were canceled at El Nuevo Herald and 449 at The Miami Herald. El Nuevo Herald's circulation totals 88,000 weekdays; The Miami Herald sells 296,000 copies daily.

Horacio Garcia, who directs the executive committee of the Cuban Liberty Council, said the exile community would not be demoralized. "They have power and money, but we have patriotism and dignity," he said.

In a related development, the Hartford Courant has said it will no longer allow Washington Bureau Chief David Lightman to appear on U.S.-government radio network Voice of America.

The decision was made after El Nuevo Herald reported last week that VOA paid Lightman and several other prominent journalists to appear on its shows. Courant Editor Clifford Teutsch said the arrangement had been approved by Lightman's editors several years ago.

"However, we've decided it's best to end his participation rather than allow any question of a conflict to linger," Teutsch said in a statement, according to the report.

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