Tom Fiedler may not be Ben Bradlee, but he remains a newspaper warrior, nonetheless. Earlier today, the Miami Herald's soon-to-be-former executive editor received two standing ovations from the crowd attending the Miami Herald Media Co.'s annual meeting at the Radisson Hotel in the old Omni International Mall. "No doubt the road has been bumpy," Fiedler told the assembly. "But I have no doubt it will smooth in the future as long as we hold fast to the ideals of great journalism and community service."
After 33 years as a reporter, editor and leader of Miami's only daily newspaper, Fiedler bid farewell today. He assumed the top post in 2001 and has withstood a fair share of criticism, from his decision to fire Jim Defede and for describing a select group of Cuban American radio commentators "little Chihuahuas nipping at our heels."
It was also a rough year for the folks working at One Herald Plaza. Oscar Corral's reporting on Radio and TV Marti payments to South Florida journalists, including El Nuevo Herald reporters and freelancers, reignited Miami's Cuban exile community hatred toward the Miami Herald, culminating in Jose Varela's deranged publicity stunt. But this gathering wasn't about rehashing bad news.
Instead, Fiedler and his El Nuevo counterpart Humberto Castello raved about their most relevant news stories in the past year, as well as the Herald's technological advances at a time when the Jurassic newspaper industry is still struggling to conquer the Information Age.
Castello singled out reporters Joaquim Ustet and Helena Poleo for their municipal and county government coverage, as well as Gerardo Reye's exclusive interview with the man who assassinated Salvadorian Roman Catholic bishop Oscar Romero. "2006 was a year of continued excellence," Castello boasted.
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Fiedler praised Ronnie Greene's air cargo series, Carol Marbin Miller's relentless reporting on Martin Lee Anderson's death, and, of course, Debbie Cenziper's jaw shattering House of Lies , "Debbie riveted and outraged readers," Fiedler extolled.
Nearing the end of his PowerPoint presentation, he selected a slide featuring a newspaper headline. It read: "It's Now Official: Fiedler is Gone."
The audience erupted with laughter.