🚗 🚙 Turn your trusty old car into trustworthy journalism Learn more

Should have reviewed the employee handbook . . .

Dan Grech Oct 3, 2006

KAI RYSSDAL: Last month a paper down in Miami fired two of its reporters. Not just any paper. The Spanish-language publication of The Miami Herald. And not just any reporters, either. Two Cuban-American reporters. They lost their jobs after the paper found out they’d been taking money from federally-funded Radio Marti to say mean things about Fidel Castro. File that one under things reporters aren’t supposed to do. But today they were offered their jobs back. And the Herald’s publisher quit instead. From the Marketplace Americas Desk at WLRN, Dan Grech sorts it all out.

DAN GRECH: Publisher Jesus Diaz said in a letter to readers that he resigned today because the paper mismanaged the firing of the reporters. He said to accept government payments is a clear breach of journalistic ethics. But the company’s policy on the matter was quote “ambiguously communicated, inconsistently applied and widely misunderstood.”

So, is this just a classic case of corporate miscommunication, or were other pressures at work?

Some wonder whether Jesus Diaz resigned under pressure from Miami Cubans, the city’s most wealthy and powerful community. Over the past three weeks, Cuban Americans canceled subscriptions and urged an advertiser boycott.

Tom Fiedler is the executive editor of the Miami Herald.

He says Diaz wasn’t swayed by the political and economic might of the Cuban community.

TOM FIEDLER:“I can say with certainty that there was no feeling in the publisher’s office that we had to in any way alter either our journalism or alter our personnel policies because of a boycott.”

Al Tompkins is with the Poynter Institute for Journalism in St. Petersburg, Florida. He agrees that the newspaper wasn’t overly swayed by economic concerns.

AL TOMPKINS:“Any boss is foolish not to listen to the customer, but in the end your decisions are driven by your own internal ethics and policies. If they had a clearly thought out and a clearly expressed code of ethics, then that’s what they live by. In this case I don’t think they had that.”

While the Miami Herald’s circulation has been flat for a decade, the Spanish language El Nuevo Herald has been growing. That’s largely due to its openly antagonistic position to Cuba’s Fidel Castro — a position popular with Cuban American readers.

In Miami, I’m Dan Grech for Marketplace.

There’s a lot happening in the world.  Through it all, Marketplace is here for you. 

You rely on Marketplace to break down the world’s events and tell you how it affects you in a fact-based, approachable way. We rely on your financial support to keep making that possible. 

Your donation today powers the independent journalism that you rely on. For just $5/month, you can help sustain Marketplace so we can keep reporting on the things that matter to you.