Monday, June 01, 2009

Third World Response To Freedom Of The Press




A couple of days before these photographs (scroll down for more) were taken I met up with my old friend Jim Kukar for lunch. We do that every month or so, talk about the old days, the days when I was the photographer and sometimes reporter for a variety of papers and magazines where he'd been the editor. We're going back damned near forty years here, ever since he was the editor of The North Dade Journal, which is now incorporated into your Thursday and Sunday Miami Herald as Neighbors North. I did a lot of election coverage back then too.

Our main topic of discussion was the stated of the newspaper industry, how the financial squeeze is impacting the largest papers now. The old neighborhood weekly and bi-weekly papers are long gone. The metropolitan papers like the Herald barely cover local politics in the smaller cities and towns, there's no longer the oversight of the press to reign in the local political establishments or ferret out stories of corruption. And we'll never know what we're missing because nobody reports it.

The conversation drifted to BLOGS, like this one, that do cover some of the "missing local news" and how their following has grown as concerned citizens seek out what's happening. We talked about how they often slant the news largely because the writers have no training or experience in clasical journalism and the ethics that were a tradition in the industry, at least as taught in jounalism schools. I try to keep this blog within bounds. Truthful to the best of my ability.

Miami-Dade County has a large immigrant population. In North Miami they're largely from Haiti. We've made the effort to welcome them to our community. We now have a couple of them on the city council,we've had a Haitian mayor, they're active in the Chamber of Commerce, they live scattered throughout integrated neighborhoods around North Miami. They get along with their neighbors, their kids play with one another, bicycle together, ride skateboards together, all the things kids do. We help one another change a tire or jump a dead battery.

But I've never seen anything like this before. I have no idea why a group of people would come to the United States to get away from a dictatorship, lacking in freedom of the press, and then think that it's OK to use violence to get rid of their political opposition. I tried to document it. I got beat up.

The worst part about it is that the candidate these thugs support moved into the city just in time to qualify for the election. He move from another city in the next county where he'd lost an election. The thugs that are were to support him, it seems, aren't even North Miami residents for the most part. They drove down to North Miami in his support, waving signs in front of the polls and grabbing the other candidate's campaign literature out of there hands. Typical campaign tactics "back home" no doubt, but not the way we do it here.

North Miami elections have a low voter turnout. Just a few votes can make a difference. Get out to vote. Tuesday, the "traditional" Election Day, is the last day to show your support for clean government in North Miami. If you live in District 3 that means a vote for Michelle Garcia. Get over to the polls and cast your ballot.

While you're there vote for Frank Wolland for mayor. Thanks.

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