More than two decades ago, I sat down to work in a sterile office in Doral, and a young woman next to me began swearing like a sailor. "Coño
," she said louder than any office voice I had ever heard. "This salad sucks."
Mindy Marques Gonzalez was the little sister to a bunch of determined newspaper guys -- Puerto Rican, Cuban, African-American, and me, Minnesotan. She had grown up in Hialeah and knew the town better than any of us. She had no fear, covering the outlaw town of Opa-locka and even writing about the Triangle, that city's most dangerous area.
Now she has a much harder task: saving the Miami Herald.
Mindy will take over for Anders Gyllenhaal, who had a reputation as a cold manager lacking in emotion or empathy. His replacement is the polar opposite. Or at least she was as a 20-something -- warm to a fault but quick to anger or become outraged. Just the kind of woman you'd want on your side in any mission -- particularly a combat mission. And that's just the kind of task she has taken on.
Mindy stuck with the Herald when everyone else left. She departed for a time to manage a bureau for People magazine before that office folded. She has worked mostly in news but has had a hand in features and diversity and pretty much every other part of the Herald.
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But the newsroom is half the size it was when Mindy and I started there. All the foreign and domestic bureaus are gone. The Miami Herald is no longer among the top 25 United States newspapers. The real estate bust and Spanish-language explosion in this town dealt it a more serious blow than almost any newspaper in the nation.
Last April, the Associated Press reported the paper's circulation had dropped 15 percent a year on weekdays and almost 13 percent on Sundays. That was faster than most papers. Circulation drops across the country have slowed in the past few few months, but the Herald's figures weren't immediately available.
I wish Mindy well. She joins Manny Garcia, another local product and Cuban-American who last year took the helm at El Nuevo Herald. Together, maybe they can turn the old ship around.