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Sentinel Blows It On Michael Chizner

Buddy Nevins illustrates his aversion to solid reporting today in the Sentinel with this pathetic newslet on North Broward Hospital District heart surgeon Michael Chizner. He calls Chizner a "star heart doctor" and lets Wayne "I Want To Suck Your Blood" Huizenga and other hacks spew forth on the Sentinel page without checking a single fact. "They said Chizner was a superstar who drew patients and donations to the district and he deserved special treatment," Nevins writes.

They're wrong, Buddy. The grossly overpaid (at more than $1 million a year) Chizner has been a disaster, not a "superstar." This is not a matter of opinion, but of fact. All you have to do is get the records to see that Chizner has overseen a dramatic decline in patients and has fallen far short of his fundraising promises. And it's not a small matter -- we are talking about tens of millions of dollars in public (taxpayers') funds and the future of the Broward General Medical Center. That's the truth, not a bunch of puffery from super-wealthy special interests and governor appointees.

And Nevins plays up the "Chizner might go elsewhere" angle? We should be so lucky. There's NO WAY IN HELL that Chizner is leaving NBHD on his own volition. He couldn't make half the money he's making at the bloated district anywhere else.

The Sentinel editorial board has parroted the Chizner is Great angle too. It's a perfect example of why the Sentinel, though it contains great work by great reporters at times, is essentially still an amateur operation. No wonder Pulitzer frowns on it. Must be karma.

Look, I don't want to seem to be singling out Nevins for bad reporting, which is not in short supply in South Florida, but this is right up in my wheelhouse and it's disgraceful. It's like he's reviving his spiked column and calling it reportage. Huizenga, Chizner, George Gill, Steve Berrard ... these guys have enough pull without Buddy carrying their water for them.

I've been hearing a lot of rumors that Buddy is going to be leaving the newspaper soon to work for a politician (two names bantered about have been Jim Waldman, the ex-husband of Nevins' favorite Ali, and Charlie Crist, who, well we all know about that). If this is the kind of junk he's going to produce after his ouster from the political beat, the sooner the better.

Yoink! Onto another subject that I wish I didn't have to tackle today: Credit for stories. I want to get away from the issue, but the Sentinel keeps dragging me back in. For the second time today, the Fort Lauderdale newspaper has been found guilty of journalistic larceny. This time it blatantly ripped off the Daily Business Review, which had a scoop by Jordana Mishory yesterday about poor treatment of minorities at the Broward courthouse. Today, the Sentinel redid the story under the byline of Tonya Alanez. Look, I don't blame Alanez, she's just doing her job and it's the editors who should make sure the paper gives proper credit. The Herald has been showing some class in this regard, but the Sentinel (and at times Post) is still in the dark ages, showing itself to be miserly little operation. And I'm coming to the conclusion that its the reporters who have to demand that, when they redo a story that ran in another publication, the original publication be cited. It may be the only way for the Sentinel to become a bigger newspaper, integrity-wise.

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Journalist Bob Norman has been raking the muck of South Florida for the past 25 years. His work has led to criminal cases against corrupt politicians, the ouster of bad judges from the bench, and has garnered dozens of state, regional, and national awards.
Contact: Bob Norman

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