iami is in the national spotlight again. As usual, the news is lousy.
Our magic metropolis hosts millions of tourists every year, but all anyone ever hears about are the Germans who are dragged out of their cars, beaten, robbed, and run over by hoodlums. On occasion Miami's ethnically divided communities get along just fine. Yet whenever a bloody race riot ensues, especially during Super Bowl week, out come the cameras and the note pads. Hurricane Andrew -- a natural disaster that was completely out of our hands -- didn't help our image one bit.
So now, when city officials are nailed taking kickbacks on computer contracts, when the governor declares a fiscal emergency and angry middle-class property owners vow to dissolve the city, here again comes the press. Regional, national, and international reporters hastily filed "post cards from Miami" in which they dished the usual dope on this "glitzy" and "over-caffeinated" city. A clever few even managed to bring up a certain Eighties television show.
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"Budgetary Vices in Miami Run Counter to City Trends," shouted the Christian Science Monitor in the first of several headline puns. "As Debt Mounts, Some See Doom over Miami," chuckled the Los Angeles Times; Time magazine echoed with "Gloom over Miami." The Independent in London didn't quite pull off a pun, but it did hit the right theme with "Miami's Image Blown Away by Cash Scandals."
Most reporters failed to tap the city's potentially ironic nickname. Only the Orlando Sentinel was up to the challenge in a story about the dissolution movement. "Poof! The Magic City -- the one that more than any other has defined Florida -- would be gone." Time chose instead to play off one of Miami's popular marketing campaigns: "'The rules are different here' is a slogan Miami has used to lure tourists. Unfortunately, city officials seem to think it applies to them as well."
As usual, several papers reflected the national misconception that Miami and Dade County are one and the same. Most reporters, though, carefully defined Miami as a sliver of the more powerful county, none more eloquently than Newsweek's: "Always a town whose glitzy image belied a far tattier reality, Miami in fact is a relatively small city with outsize civic and social problems hidden by a shimmering skyline and perpetual summer weather -- a Potemkin metropolis with palm trees."
The press focused mainly on the campaign to dissolve the city. While dissolution would rock South Florida, several reporters seemed most concerned about the potential loss to America's popular culture. "Moon over Miami?" queries the L.A. Times. "Make that 'Moon over Dade County.'" Or, as Newsweek asks, "Who'd watch a TV show called Dade County Vice?