I just got off the Jim DeFede Show on AM-940, re: the Hoyt Report. DeFede disagreed with my bashing of said report and had some good points that I had to agree with. For instance, the paper was definitely wrong to paint all the Marti moonlighters with the same broad brush, especially those that covered sports and arts (I had forgotten that Olga Connor was a theater critic). And Herald management dropped the ball on a number of counts on the story, some of which I've chronicled on the Pulp. As I wrote in the previous post, many of Clark Hoyt's findings were dead-on.
But that doesn't change the fact that Hoyt, since he was hired by the Herald last month specifically to find "common ground" between the Herald and El Nuevo Herald newsrooms, was the wrong man
for the job. Hoyt was compromised from the get-go. Rather than an independent report, there were elements of both damage control and public relations in it. Sort of a mea culpa -- a mea culpa buried in the newspaper, but a mea culpa nonetheless -- that I'm not sure was necessary at all. Hoyt predictably says the Herald was initially "too tough" on its own colleagues. That may be true in the case of the aforementioned Connor (though that's debatable), but the firings of Pablo Alfonso and Wilfredo Cancio Isla -- who took substantial sums of propaganda money from Marti while writing news and commentary -- were not only warranted but necessary. The only thing that hurt the paper's credibility in that regard was their subsequent rehiring.
And Hoyt's contention that the story was too harsh and accusatory I think is dangerously close to the creation of a double standard. Newspapers write reports every day that are harsh and accusatory, only it's usually not about them. Look, Oscar Corral's initial story was an expose, plain and simple. Corral had the goods -- a list of reporters who took money from a government-run propaganda outlet. As I argued on the DeFede show, it's tantamount to finding out that a group of state regulators accepted money from the industries they are supposed to police. Imagine the headline on the front page: "Regulators take industry cash." That report would cause all kinds of consternation and distress inside the agency. But every little nuance of the regulators' excuses and justifications wouldn't make it to the light of day. Why should it be any different with an expose about the newspaper itself?
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Look, journalism is an often imprecise and imperfect craft. In the case of Marti, the Herald uncovered wrongdoing and published a solid story about it. Yes, the story was rushed to its own detriment (a common occurrence in out trade). Yes, key information was trimmed out by editors (ditto). Yes the Herald made some big mistakes. Unfortunately, the way it went about producing the Hoyt Report -- and a good portion of the findings therein -- constitutes another one.