Herald Breaks Traffic Story; World Misses Significance

-- The Miami Herald's Web team pulled off another gem this morning. Headline: "Early morning driving is difficult because of traffic woes - 7/18/2006 08:27 AM EDT"

Read this thing. Is the Herald serious about posting traffic reports in the morning at 8:30 a.m., when most people are already on the road, experiencing those woes firsthand? I'm sure the morning radio people -- who can actually do drivers some good -- are quaking in their boots.

-- It's true, Casmo (not Cosmo, as the Herald initially reported) Hill was killed by friendly fire during a robbery attempt in Broadview Park. But the Herald just can't his name straight. In the middle of what is a very strong and interesting story by Wanda DeMarzo and Darran Simon, the Herald reverts to the misspelling of his name. ''If I knew, believe me, Cosmo would be alive today and Troy wouldn't be where he is,'' Baker said Monday. ''Cosmo is like a son to me. I lost two sons.''

You'd think she'd get the first name of her "son" right. That's one of those errors that, as a reporter, crawls into your skin. All reporters have them on occasion, those mistakes that are fairly insignificant in the scope of things, but never should happen and sully otherwise solid reports. And in this case, the blame should fall squarely on the Herald's formidable copy editing desk, especially after the newspaper learned that they had gotten the name wrong in the first place.

-- Apparently the News-Press, my ol' journalistic alma mater, didn't get the memo about "Regina Milbourne" aka the "Miami Psychic." They printed the lies on Sunday as if they were set in stone in the book of truth. Research, friends, research.

-- Fred Grimm enters the Muslim store owners fray and I think he lays an egg this time out. It's an arm-chair column based on little to no reporting. Get out in the community, Fred, check out the prices in the stores, talk to the people. It is of course true that waging broad attacks on a people that rely on a few anecdotes is wrong, but there's real resentment here. This is no place for high-on-the-mountain columnizing, but for shoe-leather reporting. People want to know what it's like to live from paycheck-to-paycheck and rely on these little overpriced stores for sustenance. They want to know if the stores do indeed exploit the people and give little back to the community or if it's a myth borne of irrational fear and distrust of another religion. One thing that is clear: Nobody needs a lecture from a well-paid suburban-living Publix-shopping white fellow who has no idea of the reality on the ground.

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