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Thursday, April 2, 2009

A Great Columnist Loses His Job in Sentinel Cutbacks

I don't get too blog around the clock all day. I might enjoy it. I love writing. But I have to earn a living. Lots of my colleagues in the news media are finding it harder to survive as the cutback crunch steals away jobs of fine journalists, great writers, and individuals, who by shedding light on others, illuminate our community.
One of those standard bearers, pictured above, lost his job this past week at the Sun-Sentinel. In the tradition of Ray Reechi, Gary Stein, Mike Mayo, and others, Ralph De La Cruz was, and still is, a fine, fine columnist, lending credence and outreach to the newspaper. His thoughtful perspectives graced the pages of his paper for over eight years. That voice is now lost, yet another cost cutting measure to the local media, collapsing around us.
No one has done a better job covering the buyouts, the layoffs, and the demise of the daily media better than New Times columnist Bob Norman, whose daily blog pieces capture corruption in the courthouse and despotism in the Broward air. It is impossible to keep up with his pace. But he caught up with Ralph this week and published on New Times the words Ralph never got to air in the Sentinel.
I know people are going to say, hey isn't that the guy who has taken some shots at you? The answer is yes, so what? We are not all paid to agree with each other on every turn and at every step, and if you are in the public eye, you have to hold your own and take your hits. I have a blog of my own. If I felt a need to answer, I would.
Here is the final column of Ralph, thanks to Mr. Norman, at his blog site, The Daily Pulp:

I find it embarrassing that we do such a poor job of providing such information to our readers - who ultimately are newspapers' real stake-holders.

And thanks for providing a forum to have these honest, sometimes brutal, online conversations.

At the risk of sounding as if I'm channeling Lee Abrams, I have to point out how ironic, or perhaps how adaptive, it is that we are dealing with all this trauma and grief through the same medium that has hastened the ruin of our industry.

Don't know what that means, but just felt compelled to make the observation.

Second, want to thank everyone who has expressed support for me or outrage about my job loss. Herald and Fraud, I am speechless. Thank you. But you must not have spoken much to Maria or the kids.

In the past two-and-a-half days, I have certainly had moments of depression and mourning - for my paycheck, my column, and also for my industry. But for the most part, I am optimistic and enthusiastic about my chances....

The only regret I have, only bitterness I carry, is not having the chance to say goodbye to my readers. THAT hurts more than I can say.

For me, the Sun-Sentinel was a wonderful ride. And I'm not going to bury the joy of those seven-and-half years to wallow in the self-pity of the last day.

Now it's time to interact and affect the world in other ways, with other people. And I'm pumped about the possibilities.

It's been a distinct pleasure, y'all.

Classic Ralph there, right down to the mention of Maria. I could have gotten worked up about the Sentinel not giving De La Cruz a farewell column, but they shipped him to Palm Beach where the readers barely got to know him. Almost like it was planned. Nah, couldn't be. So his last words in the newspaper were "Knock me over and pull my finger." Something beautiful about that. The big secret about De La Cruz: He's got real journalistic chops.

-- I'm going to start really keeping track of the silly drivel that the Sentinel puts up as the lead story on its website. I'm not saying the Sentinel shouldn't link this stuff; I'm saying that leading the homepage with it is not only incredibly low-rent and insulting to readers, but irresponsible. Remember, the lead story is one the newspaper is saying is the most important thing they have to share with readers at that moment. And when it's
Miss Cleo or "Is She Brain Dead?" then everybody loses. On Saturday, the lead headline for much of the day was: "ShamWow guy accused of fight with prostitute." It led to a paragraph with a link to a story on The Smoking Gun. And you could feel your IQ and the IQ of entire Sentinel readership slip further down the slope as you looked at it.

-- Finally, as an aside, the next time you're doing illegal drugs at a party and anyone
pulls out a camera and starts taking pictures or video, tackle that person and break whatever photographic device they're using. Yeah, I'm going to go ahead and espouse violence and property destruction on this one. Michael Phelps would tell you the same thing (as long as their were no cameras around).
Thanks Ralph for being a beeper and beacon for the community's conscience.

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