Farewell At The Miami Herald

Today is the last day for a lot of long-time folks at the Miami Herald who have taken the buyouts that were announced on June 16. I was cobbling together a list from sources, when one was kind of enough to forward this email sent out today by Miami Herald Metro Editor Manny Garcia. He names 42 people in the newsroom who have taken the buyout -- and he makes the loss palpable with what he writes.

-----Original Message-----
From: Garcia, Manny - Miami
Sent: Thursday, July 03, 2008 2:49 PM
To: .MIA Newsroom; .MIA El Nuevo Newsroom
Subject: re: a heartfelt thanks to all

We want to take a moment to recognize and thank the talented journalists who have given their years, in time, talent and sacrifice to The Miami Herald and our community.

More than 200 years of experience will leave us, and you can't sugarcoat it.

The list is too long and the situation doesn't fit our traditional newsroom standup. Numerous colleagues also said they did not want a public goodbye outside the Gene Miller Conference Room. So we'll take a moment here to recognize each of you:

-- Marji Hendel, Ray Bubel, Sandy Matza, Phil Long, Enrique Fernandez, Larry Johnson, Donna Natale Planas, J. Albert Diaz, Mauricio Ortega, Sean Rockhead, Amy Blake, Gary Fineout, Jasmine Kripalani, Pati Mazzei, Lisa Cawley, Brayden Simms, Eric St. John, Michael Allen, Angel Doval, Marissa Clark, Jillian McKoy, Paul Hodges, Scott Hutchinson, Rafael Fernandez, Kathy Foster, Teresa Mears, Mohamed Hamaludin, Alejandra La Banca, Bill Van Smith, John Voskuhl, Gail Meadows, Nancy Dahlberg, Robert Steinback, David Blasco, Winston Townsend, Lashawn Johnson, Judy Erwin, Jim Kukar, Mary Sutter, Pam Sansbury, Adam Gegg and Andres Cavalier.

The list, from veteran to newcomers, is shaped by individuals who have contributed mightily to our success, big and small: from noteworthy columns, to Pulitzer-quality photography, the development of our website, saving our hides on breaking news, saving lives, publishing the International Edition, keeping our budgets in check, maintaining our library and calendar, busting a Tallahassee lobbyist, finding an obit photo after everyone else had given up, criticism, sports scoops, neighborhood news, covering Old Sparky -- to the adrenaline high that only comes when

you find that a dead person voted during the 2000 presidential election. And you own the scoop.

You have all made The Miami Herald a better, richer, more exciting place.

We also must to take a moment to highlight some of our colleagues with a longer record of service.

-- Gail Meadows, 29 years, former Living Today Editor. Gail has been lifeline at Action Line - through her work and that of her team. She helped revive that section, and in the process, she has helped save people's homes, gotten them life-saving treatments, and recouped hundreds of thousands of dollars for readers - you cannot find a nobler cause.

-- Bill Van Smith, 42 years -- BVS to one and all - a journalist who set the pace for our core values: great journalism, comprehensive coverage, teamwork, tireless energy and excellence. How excellent? The Herald's high school coverage and its reputation in the high school community are impeccable thanks to BVS' three-plus decades of work. His stringers over the years included Dave Wilson, Eddie Alvarez, Edwin Martin, John Parkhurst and Alex Mena). Today, Sports loses arguably its best journalist and inarguably its hardest worker. How do you design his going-away page? Just draw a big teardrop.

-- Maggie Carroll, 43 years, Features, a newsroom fixture since the days of go-go boots. She is an editor of sharp wit, with a soft spot for dogs and her colleagues. Maggie recently worked through illness to keep this amazing ship known as Mother Herald moving forward.

-- Kathy Foster, 30 years, Features, newswoman, was a trailblazer for newsroom moms. She was the first woman in the newsroom to raise the issue of maternity leave, since there had never been a woman on the staff to demand it. Since her first job in 1985 in the Treasure Coast Bureau, Teresa Mears has come and gone before. "Every time I think I'm out, they pull me back in!'' to quote the Godfather. But this time it looks like it will stick. Teresa plans to trim down her real estate empire, launch into a road adventure with her four cats (yowl!), write a blog and work toward a book for baby boomers dealing with change called "Seeking Nirvana With Cats.''

-- Northwest Neighbors Editor Mohammed Hamaludin -- Hamal to everyone -- has spent decades shaping coverage of Miami's black community, the last 10 with the Herald and before that with The Miami Times. In his native Guyana, Hamal taught school and was a freelance journalist. He was one of the first reporters on the scene at Jonestown, site of the mass suicide in 1978, and shared his memories of the news story of his career with Herald readers on the 25th anniversary. Hamal is one of the most polite and distinguished people you will meet - and one with the vision to give a young college student a chance at journalism. Her name: Monica Hatcher, one of our best Business writers. "I would not be a journalist today if he hadn't," Monica notes. "I was greener than a leprechaun. He taught me everything ... how to write a lede, interpret a city budget, see through my biases. I am so indebted."

-- Phil Long, State Desk, 40 years this month - a mentor to two generations of Miami Herald reporters. Phil is a Herald ambassador who opens doors. Any Herald journalist traveling Florida would likely be greeted this way: "You work with Phil Long?"

When tragedy struck - hurricanes or floods - Phil was there. Grand Forks, North Dakota, Phil helped our sister paper publish. Biloxi Sun Herald, Phil tirelessly drove fuel, supplies and food to our weary friends there.

In 1992, after Hurricane Andrew devastated Homestead and Florida City, Phil became the house parent in a rented Winnebago to a crew of green Miami Herald reporters - among them Ana Menendez and Manny Garcia. He cooked them pasta, shared red wine, decorated the dinner table with flowers - and this was after he spent a 16 hour day reporting stories, taking pictures and delivering the newspaper. He even declogged the toilet in the "Bago" after some meathead from a wire service with a bad stomach clogged it with tissue and left.

So we end this note by raising a toast to all of you and offering a heartfelt thank you and God speed. As Phil put it this afternoon: "To be fearful of change is to be afraid of life."

... Compiled by Manny, Mindy and Dave with contributions from everyone.

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