Some interesting takes on cartoonist Jose Varela and his seige of the Miami Herald building you might not have seen:
NEW-After the jump: A letter posted at Romenesko from a former El Nuevo reporter
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From SOREN TRIFF, former El Nuevo Herald employee: Spanish editorial cartoonist Jose Varela is the latest victim of the Miami Herald's discriminatory policies. Varela's occupation of El Nuevo Herald editor office for three hours on November 24 was a desperate -- although misdirected -- call for redress of grievances shared by many within the Spanish newspaper and the Spanish community at large. The top management handling of a recent report on ethics is surely mounting not easing frustration amongst employees and community.
Varela's outstanding work has been the "face" of El Nuevo Herald editorial pages for many years; it has won him several journalistic prizes but not the same status his homologue enjoys at the Miami Herald.
The graphic journalist surely saw with hope Clark Hoyt's report in which the veteran journalist found errors in an article that prompted the firing, and rehiring, of three Spanish journalists recently. He also read with dismay the publisher David Landsberg failure to defend publicly the Spanish journalists' reputation and credibility in his introductory letter to the report, and the executive editor Tom Fiedler dismissal of the findings when they pointed to management wrongdoing, as reported by Joe Strupp in Editor and Publisher. Varela had reasons to believe that he would never have a chance to be treated fairly by the newspaper as many in the Spanish community believe right now.
Just four days before Varela's desperate action, Pablo Alfonso, a Nuevo Herald senior reporter, resigned after explaining in a public letter that Landsberg didn't addressed the consequences of the flawed reporting for the Spanish journalists' reputation. The publisher failed to recognize in "black and white" that Alfonso was rehired by the company not only because "administrative norms and procedures were violated and management errors were committed" but because he was a professional with intact reputation and credibility, according to a translation of the letter by Herald Watch. Neither the letter nor the news was reported by the Miami Herald or El Nuevo Herald.
Since Sept. 8, the Miami Herald Media Co. has been involved in actions that are consistently affecting negatively Spanish journalists like firing and re-hiring of Spanish professionals, the resignation of a Hispanic publisher, the executive editor "Chihuahuas" remark referring to Hispanic radio commentators, and the perception of Spanish journalism as "advocacy journalism" a euphemism for propaganda.
The editorial cartoonist actions -- although personal, misguided, and desperate -- have to be seen as an indirect consequence of the top management failure to address the lack of diversity in both newsrooms. With Hoyt's report, McClatchy Media Co. put in the top management hands a bright opportunity to take the newspapers back to the news business. They missed.