Letters to the Editor

From the issue of January 18, 2001

It Wasn't Such a Bad Article About My Newspaper
It just wasn't a verysmart article: Regarding Jacob Bernstein's entertaining and (mostly) balanced article about El Nuevo Herald, where I work ("Sex! Sin! Sensation!"January 11), you don't have to reach back into the dim recesses of pre-Carlos Castañeda history to find "quality investigative work." My colleague Gerardo Reyes published a half-dozen pieces last year illuminating the fascinating tale of a U.S. government informant who got caught up in a rivalry between the DEA and the FBI. In December the Wall Street Journal followed up those stories with a lengthy investigation of its own, even taking the highly unusual step of quoting Gerardo. It wouldn't have been hard to work in a reference to his stories, even if it would have complicated your thesis about the dumbing-down of the paper. The informant series sheds as much light on the paper today as the paving contract story of a few years ago did about the old days, and Bernstein did find a way to mention the paving scandal.

El Nuevo Heraldmay have no more assiduous a reader than Francisco Aruca, but Bernstein could have helped a reader draw his or her own conclusions about where he's coming from. To that end he might have pursued the question of whether Aruca has ever, in the past ten years, uttered a word of criticism about the Cuban government. The fact is that the chances of Aruca complimenting ENH for anything are exactly equal to those of a Pinochetista praising the work in Chile of my colleague Alejandra Matus. For my money the presentation of Aruca reflects a primitive view of the Cuba question -- far-right exiles versus embattled revolution -- that was never more than semiaccurate and is now growing moldy with age. To be sure it does crop up in ENH's editorial pages, but it's offset by a diverse set of other views about Cuba, including those of independent journalists on the island. A nonreader of El Nuevo Herald would have no idea of this from Bernstein's piece.

Which leads me to wonder if New Times is losing its feel for Miami. The dated Cuba perspective aside, there's an odd observation toward the end of the article. Bernstein remarks on South American "elites who are coming to Miami," and who don't need ENH for its reporting on their home countries. Get real. The "elites" are a tiny fraction of the new migrants, largely Colombian and Venezuelan, most of them from the middle class or below, who are pouring into Miami and doing every and any kind of work they can. What they are not doing is relaxing on their patios, clicking through their hometown dailies. What they do seem to be doing -- a lot of them, anyway -- is reading El Nuevo Herald.

Peter Katel, staff writer
El Nuevo Herald
Miami

It Wasn't an Article That Delivered What It Promised
Of course the promise itself was pretty trashy: You can't tell a book by its cover, of course, but gee! I sure was expecting something more exciting in an article on El Nuevo in New Times. Or is it Old Times?

I can't blame you for taking shots at the Herald & Co. whenever possible (they're easy targets -- maybe too easy), but your story promises more than it delivers. Their Spanish-language paper might be a trashy rag, but showing a busty babe on your cover makes you guys as guilty as they are. Maybe more so, since you used sex for a bait-and-switch. That, and the story, was weak.

Better luck next time.

Mark Sigfried
via the Internet

It Wasn't Much of an Article at All
But thanks for the mammaries: Wow! There was more sex and titillation on the cover of your rag than in the El Nuevo Heraldstory itself.

And what a story! A Spanish-language newspaper in Miami is successful because its managers tailor their product to Cuban Americans. Cutting-edge stuff! Way to go! A Pulitzer Prize, for sure.

The story really, uh, sucked. Nice tits, though.

Timothy Burrwell
via the Internet

It Isn't the Article Itself I Wish to Address
It is the larger issue of Latin-American journalism: El Nuevo Herald is an insult to Spanish-speaking Latin Americans. I am a European who has studied many publications in Latin America, and I myself have had some of my writings published in Latin-American publications, even once by Gabriel Garcia Marquez himself, back when he was an editor in his Mexican exile. I defy anybody to discover, anywhere in Latin America, a periodical that disguises itself as a major daily and which presents such putrescene as that sad coven on Biscayne Bay.

No, amigos. The world still bows before Latin-American writers, even those whose poetic genius touches the common person who reads the local newspaper. Garcia Marquez began as a newspaper reporter. When you read his news stories, it's poetry. For example his report during a water shortage in Caracas. You could have declaimed this Caracas-water-shortage report onstage at Carnegie Hall. And the fabulously talented Latin-American poets who write to the public as journalists are still at work. In my opinion some are in the Garcia Marquez class: Miguel Cabral of El Pais in Montevideo, Uruguay. José Flavio Cardoso, writing in Portuguese for Diario Catarinense. Yes, even in English: William Santiago for the San Juan Star. They are all Nobel Prize talent. I have collected some of their world-class journalism. Miguel Cabral reporting about the Dominicans: "In Santo Domingo he who does not dance is paralytic!" José Flavio Cardoso about the life of a door-to-door salesman. William Santiago's obituary for the departed "Owl Man" of Old San Juan. This is "insight" news because it allows us to understand why Latin America still produces fine popular music with poetic lyrics: "The universe of your eyes...."

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