Today is goodbye for numerous Miami Herald journalists who are part of the recent job cuts at the newspaper. What follows is an email announcing the departures sent to staff today from Senior Editor Mindy Marques. There's too much here to summarize, but I want to point out that among those going is Director of Photography Luis Rios, who helped make Patrick Farrell's recently announced Pulitzer Prize possible by fighting for the inclusion of some of the more harrowing shots. The e-mail is long and it jumps.
From: Marques, Aminda "Mindy" - Miami
Sent: Friday, April 24, 2009 1:38 PM
To: .MIA Newsroom; .MIA El Nuevo Newsroom
Subject: Farewell and Thank You . . .
Today is a difficult day as we bid farewell to many friends and colleagues who are leaving The Miami Herald. We are losing years of talent and expertise, familiar faces that have had an indelible impact on this newspaper and community. The list is long and includes veterans and newcomers, from interns who got their start here to veterans who have become household names, from the meticulous editor who curates community news to the designer who is the go-to person when thing go awry at night. We don't want to let anyone walk out of the building this week without acknowledging their contributions over the decades.
Numerous colleagues said they did not want a public goodbye, so each department has plans for small gatherings. But we thank one and all for everything they've done. You have made this newspaper -- and this community -- a better place.
Some familiar bylines will continue to appear frequently in the paper. Their voices will continue to play a role in our coverage of South Florida. Kathryn Wexler will give us her fashion guidance in Tropical Life, and Cindy Goodman's Balancing Act will continue in Business. Dan LeBatard will come back into the paper in May and write about once a week as a freelance columnist and Elaine de Valle will continue to watch over Coral Gables. Others are moving on to new phases in their lives (Evan Benn is getting married and moving to St. Louis and T'shai Bey says she will refuse to answer the phone during her retirement). And now a little more ...
Evan Benn, an eloquent writer who can report and writer fast than you can say "put it on the web," had two stints as an intern before joining us full-time in Broward in 2004. But his career path was clearly blessed from the beginning when in 2004 he wrote the words "Virgin Mary" and "grilled
cheese sandwich." ... Candace Barbot, a native Atlantan who came to the Herald 19 years ago, was an award-winning still photographer for 17 years before embracing video and multimedia journalism with equally stunning results. ... T'shai Bey has been the backbone of the Features Department since the days of Miami Vice. She's answered at least a million phone calls from readers: "Ma'am, you'll have to call Comcast. We do not control the cable system. ... Sir, Charles Schultz has been dead TEN YEARS! He's not making new cartoons!" But most of all, she's always upbeat and well, a little bit crazy -- which is what has made her the perfect den mother for the little-bit-crazy Features section.
Dan Christensen, who joined the Herald four years ago, made his mark by exposing secret court dockets and troublesome conflicts of interest. He won the Joseph L. Brechner FOIA award, as well as prizes for his investigative work from the Florida Bar Association ... Humberto D'Costa is a versatile designer who started in 2002 as an imager, then learned the system to work page design. ... Elaine de Valle joined The Herald in 1991, as a City Desk clerk, and her energy, passion and strong reporting skills quickly became apparent. A year into the job, she distinguished herself reporting from South Dade after Hurricane Andrew. A dynamo, she always had a key piece of the biggest stories, from the Miami voter fraud scandal to the Elian Gonzalez saga.
Lazaro Fraga, who is graduating from FIU with a Master's in business journalism, started as a Neighbors intern in 2008, has worked on the City Desk and most recently in North-Central Neighbors. ... Working mom and avid Gator Cindy Goodman is going to keep her popular > "Balancing Act" column, as well as her blog. ... Michael Hamersly, who started as a copy editor in 1996, brought his breezy, conversational tone to celebrity gossip when he took over the People Page. In 2006, he began full-time work on his passion, music (he plays guitar and skipped out on college more than once to sing with an indie rock band). Mike plans to freelance for the paper and for Miami.com. ... Assistant Business Editor Daisey Harris has had a symmetrical sort of two-term Herald career. She arrived in early 1989 as an editor on the national desk, and then moved over to Business. After a Harvard fellowship in '93-94, Daisey decided to stick around Boston and joined the staff of the Globe. The Herald lured Daisey back in 2002, again as an editor on the desk we had taken to call World. Daisey showed her deft touch with copy and her keen news judgment through some hectic news cycles. Then it was time to go back to business as Assistant Business Editor and join the fun of two consecutive years being judged one of the country's top sections by SABEW.
Carol Jertson, who started as a copy editor in 1994, became the heart and soul of Broward's Neighbors operation five years later. Carol helped create many Neighbors features, keeping a keen eye out for neighborhood stories. Something you might not know: Carol has an intricate knowledge of antiques, and knows something about every antique store within 50 miles radius of the office. ... Tonii Kelly has been a designer in the newsroom since 1999, but she joined The Herald in 1973. She worked in ad paste-up, and then moved over to editorial cold-type paste-up. Tonii is a rock of dependability; she has a knack for knowing whom to call when something goes wrong. When something goes awry, one of the first people called is Tonii Kelly. ... Penny McCrea joined the staff in 1995 as a part-time clerk, then spent several years as an administrative assistant before finding her real calling as a major contributor to Action Line, advocating on behalf of Herald readers who needed help. ... Brenda Muncy is a designer who joined us in 1981, transitioning from cold-type paste-up in 1999. Brenda is a frenetic worker, juggling pages in different sections simultaneously and on different computers. She is tireless, efficient and patient. Yes, she always has sweets at her desk, but the real treat has always been Brenda.
Having first joined The Herald in 2003, Susannah Nesmith has covered it all -- from Haiti to Hurricane Katrina (in New Orleans), from Miami cops to the Miami-Dade courthouse. She has been assigned to the biggest stories and the most demanding beats. Through it all, she has demonstrated her talent as a tenacious reporter and writer. It was just last spring that she and Lisa Arthur teamed up to write a wrenching narrative on the families of Michael Hernandez and Jamie Gough. It's the kind of work that will be sorely missed with Susannah's departure. ... Chuck McCartney has been a mainstay of the Broward bureau since 1990, as a rim editor, line editor and slot for our local and community sections. His deep knowledge of Florida's environment and history has been a great resource. Chuck has always sweated the details in copy, and his exacting approach (and those late-night calls to reporters and photographers) has made our stories better each day. "Run this by Chuck" is the familiar call when we have a story about the ecosystem (especially orchids, his other passion besides editing). ... Mark Mattern came from the MCT bureau in Washington and is a pioneer in developing 3D graphic animations at The Herald. Among his best was the preview > of the 2009 Presidential Inauguration. Mark is planning to move to Colorado and starting his own multimedia company.
David Nickell has been an advocate for clear, effective writing and complete reporting in our Neighbors and daily pages since the mid-'90s. A former reporter for New Times, David has approached his editing at The Herald with a critical eye and deep knowledge of local politics, government and characters. ... Michael Ottey arrived from Portland to write feature stories about Broward but landed a few years later on the World desk as Caribbean correspondent. From Guantanamo to Central America to Haiti (and later as Assistant World Editor), Mike was the consummate professional during his eight years at The Herald. ... Jose Pagliery started in 2007 as a one-year intern, has freelanced, worked part time on the Metro desk and distinguished himself on early morning cops and GA for the CND since October. He'll receive his bachelor's in journalism from FIU next week and will continue to work freelance for us.
In his 20-plus years, Mike Phillips has covered just about everything in sports and gotten to know just about everyone. He has produced countless touching feature stories -- his specialty, along with his excellent deadline writing -- over a broad spectrum that includes Marlins, high schools and horse racing. Mike's enthusiasm for writing about the Marlins and his many years as the voice of Miami-Dade preps stand out, as does his poignant writing style. Whether in print or in person, Mike always loves to tell a good story. ... Luis Rios was hired away from the Washington Post six years ago to become our director of photography. His passion for photography shows in the letter he left for his staff. Here are excerpts: Original storytelling and great documentary photography. Those were the two ideals I carried with me when I came to the Photo department ... The testament to this vision manifested itself in Patrick's stunning photography from Haiti that earned him the Pulitzer Prize this week. It is a great victory for all of you. ... Monica Roos is a multilingual Herald legacy (her late father Jim was the longtime classical music critic). She got her start as a part-time copy editor in 2003, then joined the Action Line team in 2006, bringing enthusiasm, energy and advocacy to the job every day. Monica's career is going to take a new path after a summer off with her baby: She's going to teach journalism at a charter school. So wish her well in whichever language you prefer: English, Spanish, Greek, French or Italian.
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In her three-plus years since being hired out of Northwestern, Sarah Rothschild has excelled at everything she has covered: auto racing, general assignments and most recently the Heat. She is an organized, diligent, reporter and talented writer. When Indy-car driver Paul Dana crashed and died during practice at Homestead in 2006, Sarah was on top of the story throughout. Her well-written news story, Sunday profile and first-person Issues & Ideas piece all received great praise ... Cindy Seip is a Features designer who excels in creative work. Cindy joined the Herald in 1996 and bought her own sense of artistry and flair to all of the pages she touched. Cindy always has a smile, always brings the energy, and that shows in her Features pages, TV book covers and most recently her excellent Neighbors work. Cindy also is the caretaker of The Herald's MySpace page, an endeavor she launched and has constantly fed. ...In his 10 years here, Jeff Shain has earned the respect of his peers by being one of the most knowledgeable and helpful members of our Sports staff. He has written with authority on golf, Florida State (and UF and UM) and college football. He is an outstanding planner and a clever, prolific writer who files well-crafted, error-free stories no matter the deadline. His expertise across a wide range was always appreciated.
Merwin Sigale has been the quiet force behind the editing of our biggest, deepest Sunday projects for more than a decade. Time and again, reporters have come back after publication to thank him for his pointed questions, thorough editing and heroic saves. Merwin has approached every story the same way: as a regular reader who might not know the first thing about a complex topic. Merwin began his career as a UPI reporter in Latin America and was among the founding editors and anchors for the Nightly Business Report on PBS. Before coming to the Herald in 1994, he was the business editor at The Miami News, and he continues as a journalism professor at Miami Dade College. ... Nicholas Spangler came to us in June 2002 as an intern, and earned a place on the staff with his profile of a pumpkin-carving former Moulin Rouge dancer married to a midget. He has slogged through the swamps in search of rare orchids and alligator wrestlers. He has put his reporter's notebook in his teeth, jumped in the bay, and swum to his story. Nothing ever fazed Nick -- except, maybe the Sex and the City party he was ordered to cover as a Last Night assignment. But he'd take on any story, at any hour -- and deliver something that was 10 times better than his editors had ever fathomed. ... Surely no layperson knows more about South Florida's landscapes than Georgia Tasker. Georgia, who would have marked her 40th anniversary at The Miami Herald in October, has been garden writer since 1979, but her vision always went beyond the back yard to encompass the vast ecological complexity of our area and, with time, the world. She was a Pulitzer finalist in 1987 for her series on this hemisphere> '> s endangered rain forests, then spent the following year at Stanford on a Knight fellowship. She is the author of "Wild Things: The Return of Native Plants" and two books that have become bibles for any aspiring South Florida gardener: "Enchanted Ground: Gardening with Nature in the Subtropics" and (with Tom MacCubbin) "Florida Gardener's Guide." A few years ago she was the recipient of the Barbour Medal, Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden's highest environmental award. And Tropical Audubon Society gave its first lifetime-achievement award to her.
John VanBeekum has spent 17 years bringing his passion for photojournalism to the pages of the Herald. He is an absolute wizard with computers, and his technical expertise and keen eye for beautiful photos will certainly be missed. John plans to freelance and fill-in with occasional editing shifts. ... Candace West was born and raised in the Detroit area, coming to The Herald two decades ago as a lab technician in the Broward office. She worked her way to a staff photography position, and her photos have appeared all over the paper with coverage from both Miami-Dade and Broward counties. ... Kathryn Wexler became The Herald's fashion writer in 2004, near the time that Tropical Life launched the weekly Style section. She's interviewed Cavalli, Valentino and Lagerfeld, and has become an expert on heel heights, hemlines and whether jewel tones are in or out. (They're in. At least through the weekend. Check back Monday.) She's brought style-challenged readers news from the front lines of New York Fashion Week, dug up local trends such as designer-dud swap meets, deconstructed dozens of looks, tested hundreds of products and checked out a million spas (without getting free treatments!). ... Heidi Wilson, a cornerstone of the desk in Broward for 18 years, has lent her elegant editing touch on a vast array of stories -- from those at the tail end of Neighbors sections to the ones splashed on the front page. In addition to her copy-editing, she was the bureau editor for a former incarnation of Broward Neighbors that focused on community events and features. Heidi has approached everything with the same speed, skill, flair and teamwork. Reporters and fellow editors love working with her, and as she winds up this phase of her career, Heidi is pursuing a freelance opportunity at The Herald to continue editing some community copy and features.
We also will say farewell to several others in coming weeks. Emiene Wright, Chaka Ferguson and Carol Reynolds-Srot will be with us through May. Bob Levitz, who is taking early retirement, will be with us through June, as will Shelley Acoca.