Fiedler: Marti Coverage Flaws "Rest On My Shoulders"

The next chapter in the Miami Herald's Marti saga has already been written, but we'll have to wait until Sunday to read it. Herald Editor Tom fiedler announced to his staff via e-mail this morning that Clark Hoyt has done an "important report" on the "decisions leading up to publication of [Oscar Corral's] story about journalists on the payroll of TV and Radio Marti." It will run in Sunday's Issues & Ideas section.

Hoyt was hired last month to help bring the Herald newsroom together with its Spanish-language sister publication, El Nuevo Herald, after the firings -- and subsequent rehirings -- of three El Nuevo Herald writers for taking money from the anti-Castro propaganda station Marti. The firings were the result of a front-page story done by Miami Herald reporter Corral. Ultimately, several more staffers were found to have taken Marti money, all were allowed to remain at the newspaper, and publisher Jesus Diaz resigned. His quitting was linked to a power struggle with star columnist and novelist Carl Hiaasen.

We'll have to wait to read Hoyt's opus, but Fiedler's e-mail has its own significance: The editor concedes that "flaws and misjudgments" found by Clark "almost always come to rest on my shoulders." That's a significant mea culpa and one that I think has been long time in the coming. After all, Corral's story was rushed into print with information in it that editors have admitted they knew to be false prior to publication.

It's a welcome development to see Fiedler back up his reporter while at the same time definitively stating that the buck stops at his desk and should help the two Herald newsrooms continue to heal from the Marti debacle.

Here's the full text of Fiedler's e-mail:

From: Fiedler, Tom Sent: Friday, November 17, 2006 10:13 AM To: MIA Newsroom Subject: Hoyt report Importance: High

All, I want to alert you to an important report in this Sunday's Issues &Ideas, which will come off the presses later today. Clark Hoyt, whom most of you know, has submitted a report to David Landsberg about events and decisions leading up to publication of Oscar's story about journalists on the payroll of TV and Radio Marti. This is part of the assignment that Clark took on a few weeks ago.

The report is written in the fashion of an ombudsman's column, which strikes me as both appropriate for our edification and engaging to readers. I won't offer my own opinion on Clark's findings beyond pointing out that he solidly supports the premise on which the story was based, as well as Oscar's reporting and Myriam's content editing. That is foremost; Oscar and Myriam earn our praise for that story and those that followed this week. Where Clark exposes flaws and misjudgments, they almost always come to rest on my shoulders.

Once you've read and thought about it, let me know what you think. But please approach this with the attitude that Clark's effort was that of an honest broker operating in the spirit of constructive criticism.


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