Letters from the Issue of July 6, 2006

I'll get the girls together for the weekend, leave early ... party, and snooze on the way back"

Minority Uproar-ity

Parity works: I'd like to clarify some issues Chuck Strouse raised in his column "Wrong Way Out" (June 29), about the National Association of Hispanic Journalists' Parity Project.

Parity's goal is to go after the nation's "worst offenders" — the newspapers throughout the country that have the fewest Latino staffers even though the Latino communities around them are rapidly growing.

In the three years that the program has been working, we've increased the number of Latino journalists working at eighteen media companies by 40 to 100 percent.

But Parity is a holistic program that trains Latino staffers and offers town hall meetings. It also brings in community leaders to critique the paper and helps strengthen its goal of more inclusive coverage.

Parity never sought directly to increase the number of Latino staffers at large metro dailies such as the New York Times because those papers are not among the "worst offenders." The strategy was decidedly suburban. Strouse goes into detail about a he-said/she-said disagreement over a quote that ran in the convention newspaper. Truth was not served by that quote. It warranted a clarification that it never received.

The news industry is failing the parity goal. The Parity Project is one program fighting against the tide. To say it is not successful is to miss the point entirely.

Rafael Olmeda, president
National Association of Hispanic Journalists

The newspaper works: I was editor of the Latino Reporter, a newspaper published during the convention, and am also a long-standing member of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists (NAHJ). Chuck Strouse's column was right in driving home the point that we need to focus our energy and attention on efforts to increase Latino representation on newspaper staffs and to improve coverage of Latino communities. However, I would like to clarify some facts in the column and also to reiterate the reasons behind the stand I took as editor of the Latino Reporter, which is an NAHJ project designed to train college students. It saddens me that the accomplishments of such a talented group are being overshadowed by a debate I consider unwarranted.

The bottom line is NAHJ's financial director, Sam Diaz, was not misquoted. We did not publish a correction or clarification because he was quoted accurately. The story presented a balanced look at the Parity Project.

When I told Diaz of my decision, he insisted on a correction and asked me if he could write a letter to the editor about the matter. I did not suggest that to him, as the column indicated. Owing to time and space constraints, the Latino Reporter does not regularly run letters to the editor. In the end, I decided it would not be ethical if we made an exception to run a letter simply because of pressure from an NAHJ board member. I did not want to send the students the wrong message.

I still believe strongly in NAHJ. But it is our job as Latino professionals to serve as role models for our students. We face too many battles in real-life newsrooms. We should not be fighting the same battles with our own people.

Monica Rhor, staff writer
Orange County Register

Diaz works: Regarding Chuck Strouse's "Wrong Way Out" (June 29): Sam Diaz was misquoted, and that Rhor gal should have been willing to run, at the least, a letter from Diaz. It's important to consider that even the best, most veteran reporters sometimes get quotes and notes wrong.

To cast doubt on the meaningfulness of the NAHJ's Parity Project from this particular palaver is simply wrong. I agree in general there is a whole lot wrong with news organizations' "diversity initiatives," but this is not one of them. Indeed a better story is examining how large outfits like KR/McClatchy/Tribune/NYT, et cetera, have let genuine, substantive efforts fall by the wayside in recent years. Are these large outfits now relieved to no longer have to focus (or pretend to focus) on this "diversity" stuff? If so, what is the impact?

Sam Diaz is a real straight shooter, an honest to goodness good egg. I've known him since he was a cub reporter at the Fresno Bee, and it doesn't get any better than him.

Amy Alexander
Silver Spring, Maryland


Great Scot

Or maybe not: I enjoyed your piece about the World Cup, "The Drink-'Em-Up World Cup" (June 29). However, I'm pretty certain the limo-driving Yorkshireman in your second paragraph did notsay "he would like to see Great Britain versus Deutschland in the finals." There is no such thing as a Great Britain football (soccer) team. Each of the four home nations — England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland — has its own national football team. Just as North America has two national football teams, Canada and the U.S.A.

Alexander Sharkey
Miami Beach


Drunk Riding

Cheap fun for her: What a great story! Thanks for the info in "Fun Bus to the Keys" by Josh Schonwald (June 22). I'll probably end up going down to Key West a little more often. This is a great cheap and safe alternative to driving down oneself. Heck, I'll get a couple of the girls together for the weekend, leave early ... party, and snooze on the way back. Great way to avoid a DUI.

Alina Navarro
The Redland


It Is Too Tranquil

She's thinkin' twice: I was horrified by the stories that writer Joanne Green depicted in "Rough Love" (June 22). These personal stories are obviously closer to home than we think — and a story like this creates awareness for parents who are obviously badly informed and at their wit's end. Surely a story like this would provoke officials to take action against such an organization instead of being complacent. I would love to hear some of the parents who have sent their kids to this camp respond.

Claire Breukel
Miami

Here you go, Claire: As the mother of a teen who spent six months at TB, I would like to respond to "Rough Love." I owe my son's life to this program; without it, he realizes he would most probably be dead by now, or close to it.

The program is based on the principle of accountabilityand teaches the teens they are in control of their choices in life, and that each choice brings with it consequences and/or rewards.

My son's early years were filled with doubts about his self-worth, running to and from therapists, all types of medications, endless hours spent coercing and trying to reason him out of these behaviors, all to no avail. I can honestly say that since he returned from TB, he has had no symptoms of depression or anxiety, and he has remained drug-free. He attributes this to the tools learned at TB.

I personally visited Tranquility Bay and neverfound any mistreatment, starvation, or abuse of any kind. I honestly fear your one-sided article will discourage many parents who may be in a critical stage with their children, and who could truly benefit from this program. It could change their lives.

Alina J. Orriols
Miami


He Knows Cuba

She doesn't know Cuba: Regarding Emily Witt's "Pearl of the Antilles" (June 8): I wonder if this crusader for liberty ever considered looking toward the rest of Cuba to find a prison of the worst kind being run for a whole population. Does Ms. Witt think Dr. Elias Bizet, a Havana pediatrician, should be in a one-cubic-meter concrete vault buried out in the open without even a latrine? He has no daytime or nighttime, no visitors or books, no lights or writing utensils. What was his unforgivable, reactionary, imperialistic crime? He was giving passers-by a copy of the International Declaration of Human Rights.

And what about Dr. Marta Beatriz Roque Cabello, an economist, a lady whose only crime is to have founded a national forum to discuss civil society in Cuba? She was released from prison, but instead of being left alone, she has been attacked several times at the door of her apartment by government mobs.

These are only two instances of the hundreds of cases of people naked in jail, sick in jail, dying in the dungeons of the government. Isn't Ms. Witt lucky she lives in a country that allows her the freedom to say the things she says about its institutions? Isn't she the lucky one?

Elio del Cañal
Miami


Bad Days

Suckiness? Regarding Bill Citara's "Not So Good Old Days" (June 8): It was a not so good old review. Where did you find this author? A remedial English class? I know the establishment is lowbrow, but that doesn't mean the review should be. Suckiness? Come on.

Jason Schleich
Miami


Winners All

Miami New Timesdominated the recent Florida Press Association Better Weekly Newspaper contest, winning six first places, five seconds, and a third, as well as the general excellence category. Among those who placed: Lee Klein, Michael Shavalier, Chuck Strouse, and Francisco Alvarado. Alvarado and former staffer Rebecca Wakefield also took first in the South Florida Black Journalists Association contest.

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