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The Miami Herald ignores smart black voices

C. Stiles

Luther Campbell, the man whose booty-shaking madness made the U.S. Supreme Court stand up for free speech, gets as nasty as he wants to be for Miami New Times. This week, Luke wonders why there aren't more African-American voices in Miami journalism.

When I scan the pages of the Miami Herald or watch WPLG 10, I can't help but notice the lack of outspoken, opinionated African-American columnists and commentators.

Miami's biggest media have a shameful record of not affording journalists of color an opportunity to blossom into columnists and opinion show hosts. The Herald has 26 columnists on its roster, yet only three of them are African-American. Blogger Joy-Ann Reid gets a guest column to write mostly about national politics. David J. Neal strictly covers sports. Then you have Leonard Pitts, the only African-American at the Herald to blossom into a national star. But Pitts isn't from Miami, lives in Maryland, and rarely touches on local issues.

In the television news business, the two Sunday shows have long been anchored by a Cuban-American (Elliott Rodriguez, host of News & Views on CBS4) and a rich white guy (Michael Putney, host of Local10's This Week in South Florida).

You get only their perspective, which is often negative toward the African-American community. For example, last month Putney blasted Miami City Commissioner Michelle Spence-Jones for supporting $430,000 in federal grants to four businesses in Liberty City, a routine boost Uncle Sam gives every year to dozens of small businesses in depressed neighborhoods.

Putney claimed if he was in charge, he'd use the money to provide training for jobs at the casino resort proposed by Genting, the Malaysian gambling giant that bought the Miami Herald property. In his mind, giving tax money to African-American small-business owners was wrong, but awarding those same funds to a multibillion-dollar foreign conglomerate would be A-OK. Sadly, most Hispanic and Anglo readers and viewers probably agree with Putney.

Miami's lack of African-American columnists is a big reason some Anglo and Hispanic folks don't understand where I am coming from. I'm writing from the perspective of the average African-American in Miami. When I walk into Mama Lucy's on NW 119th Street for lunch, I get nothing but praise for telling it like it is. But that doesn't mean I am playing the race card. It just means there are not enough African-Americans in Miami who get the opportunity to speak their minds like I do.

Follow Luke on Twitter: @unclelukereal1


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