The Blue Paper was the only news source in the Keys that did any sort of investigative reporting. Its future is uncertain at this point, but hopefully it will live on in some form. The Citizens of the Keys need a publication like the Blue Paper badly. That was the one Keys news source which dug for the facts, found the documents and published well-researched stories you’ll find nowhere else.
Researching, verifying, fact checking, asking hard questions and publishing hard truths is a difficult but very necessary job. And the Blue Paper is the only publication in the Keys willing to do it. Their exit leaves a real void.
The other two newspapers in the Keys aren’t newspapers in any real sense. The Key West Citizen/Free Press runs a marketing operation whose primary client is Monroe County government. It’s a Hannity-esque conflict of interest, and it affects the level of information available to the community. You will never see an unflattering story about any county official unless that official has somehow gotten crosswise with the iPhone Bandit, Shady Bob or the county commissioners. The Citizen downplays, distorts and/or buries stories in order to mislead the public about the activities of county officials and their cronies.
The Keynoter/Reporter, owned by the Miami Herald, exists to do occasional hatchet jobs on whoever is bold enough to challenge the status quo. They spend most of their time regurgitating the crime blotter. Occasionally they’ll write a self-congratulatory piece about how awesome they are, but they make no attempt to live up to journalistic ideals. Around the world, journalists risk imprisonment and death to get at the truth, but these ninnies act as Sylvia Murphy’s lackeys. It is truly pathetic. I wouldn’t be surprised to see David Goodhue holding Murphy’s purse at the mall, with a giant smile on his face. (Yay! I get to hold the purse! Lucky me!)
Richard Tamborrino, formerly the Publisher of the Keynoter/Reporter, will take over for Paul Clarin, the recently ousted Publisher of the Citizen. Tamborrino danced around my question about any business relationship the Keynoter/Reporter might have with Monroe County. Tamborrino has probably been finagling around for career advancement opportunities for a while. From the hiring announcement:
Tamborrino will be responsible for overseeing the entire newspaper operation for Cooke in the Florida Keys. He will oversee the news department, handle overall operations duties and pay particular emphasis to the advertising sales and development growth in Monroe County for The Citizen and Free Press newspapers as well as keysnews.com.
Here’s the thing though – if your newspaper sucks nobody will read it. Even if they read it, they won’t take it seriously. The Keynoter/Reporter, under Tamborrino’s “leadership” sucks at least as bad as the Citizen. Maybe more. At least the Citizen’s suckiness is kind of understandable. They have a marketing business to run and they can’t allow accurate, in-depth reporting to get in the way of that. Gotta pay the mortgage.
Maybe its time to start licensing journalists. You have to be licensed to cut hair for krikey’s sake! Why shouldn’t you have to be licensed to report the news? At least there’s some form of accountability then. You blatantly lie to the public, you lose your license. Go find another career.
Ah well…I’m still here – one opinionated blogger. I’ll keep doing what I can when I can. Hopefully reinforcements are on the way.