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The Sun-Sentinel's Sobering Centennial

​Slow news day, more reporting to do, but I want to update you on the School Board member who allegedly used a racial slur in front of several witnesses (and no, it's not JenJen).

I'm getting the records on it, and lo and behold, I'm stymied by the Broward County School Board, which, in line with its being a disgustlingly corrupt place, is expert at (A) withholding or delaying the release of public records and (B) charging exorbitant costs to citizens trying to obtain public records.  

Here's the latest thing they threw at me as I was getting the records on the board member who has been accused of using the n-word in a very derogatory way. It came right before they were going to

 give them to me: 


From: Requel L. Bell
To: [email protected] 


Hello Mr. Norman,

After reviewing the complaint file, pursuant to Florida Statute section 1012.31 (3) (a) No material derogatory to an employee shall be open to inspection until 10 days after the employee has been notified pursuant to (2) (c).

I had no idea that law exists -- and think it's a travesty that it does exist. It applies only to school personnel. And no I don't blame Bell, a spokeswoman who is just doing her job. In this case, it's a bad legislation.  

I've called this school board member, by the way, and have yet to hear from him or her.

Does that make that person both bigot and a coward? 

-- The Sun-Sentinel is celebrating its birthday in very public fashion, with articles and hoopla and the like. It's all fine and dandy, but John De Groot, the Sentinel's former writing coach and a 30-year staffer who is now an outspoken critic of the newspaper, is dedicated to the pointing out the dark side of the occasion. On his blog, De Groot writes:

Your South Florida Sun-Sentinel is celebrating its 100th birthday this month with an orgy of corporate narcissism and self-serving bullshit.

In tracing its print lineage back 100 years, the newspaper marks its beginning with the brief publication of The Daily Herald in 1911 - which consisted of four pages devoted to real estate prices for land speculators. 

"That early publication," the Sun-Sentinel Sunday self-hyped, "was the seed  that blossomed into a company whose reach ultimately spanned the full communications multi-verse of print, Internet, television and cell phone."

Which is about as close as you can get to Circle Jerk Journalism without getting busted for public indecency. Although, after a century, today's Sun-Sentinel remains steadfastly dedicated to hustling real estate. 

For the record, I spent some three decades as an employee of the now-defunct Fort Lauderdale News and its corporate survivor the Sun-Sentinel.

Thus, in a quixotic bid to counter the Sun-Sentinel's blizzard of birthday bullshit this month, I hope to dish out an occasional dollop of the truth regarding one of the nation's fastest-shrinking (but still highly profitable) newspapers.

His first fact: That the Sun-Sentinel's circulation has gone from 260,000 in 2005 to 150,000 in 2010.

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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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