Nielsen on the Herald

Veteran local journalist (and former MNT writer) Kirk Nielsen has a rollicking good story about the McClatchy purchase of The Miami Herald in the latest edition of LRM Magazine and the Pulp just got a copy. Nothing earth-shattering, but it's tied together by excellent reporting culled from good sources at the newspaper, both named and unnamed. Some highlights:

-- On the notion that Executive Editor Tom Fiedler had two sets of rules for Jim DeFede, whom he fired for a supposed ethical violation, and Ana Veciana-Suarez, whom the boss kept on after she lied about her dad's cocaine conviction in court, Nielsen quotes DeFede:

"I kind of feel sorry for Tom. First, in order to justify

the ridiculous decision to fire me, he declares to be an absolutist when it comes to ethics and integrity. But when the situation with Ana arose a short time later, Tom had to surrender the moral high ground and start making excuses for why his black-and-white view of the world wouldn't apply to her. It makes you wonder who was really making all these decisions which Tom was forced to justify publicly. What has happened to Tom through all of this is really sad, and it's one fo teh reasons why he has lost the respect of so many in the newsroom."

In my memory, that's the closest DeFede has come to pointing the finger at Knight Ridder (aka Tony Ridder) for his canning.

-- On the departure of Judy Miller, Fiedler compares the former managing editor to General Patton, a reporter calls her a bully, and the general sense that comes through Nielsen's portrayal is that all the flying monkeys at One Herald Plaza were dancing happily once she was gone.

-- There is a great analysis of what drove Bruce Sherman-led Knight Ridder shareholders to toss the company overboard. He mentions a Morgan Stanley study that found that the profit margin had sunk from 20.7 percent to (gasp!) 17.1 percent. And the sickening fact that the analysts who did the study compared Knight Ridder to Gannett and found that, surprise, Gannett had a cheaper product, or, I mean workforce. Fucking greedheads.

-- After Nielsen delves into ad revenues, Fiedler talks about how he thinks McClatchy's newsrooms are more "muscular" than Knight Ridder's. He's all enthusiastic about the company's stated goal of getting more "feet on the street" -- including reporters and ad reps. Then Publisher Jesus Diaz plays the heavy, saying he doesn't favor putting more feet on the street at all. Nielsen then has a little fun. He writes:

"A more radical approach to afford more 'feet on the street' would be to take out some executives in the Herald's upper-level management structure, some informed insiders and ex-insiders assert. 'It's bloated,' assured the former Herald executive. Diaz responded, 'I disagree.'"

Downright knee-slapping that. Unfortunately, the piece isn't available online, just in Miami bookstores.

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