"Examiners" Give "Insider Source'' on Local News

While doing web research, I've been running across Examiner.Com more and more. Never heard of it? Well, you should, since it's the self-proclaimed "Insider Source for Everything Local." Examiner.com is a "citizen journalism" site wherein self-appointed "examiners" write their own articles. And it's true that they have discovered the "insider source" for local news: other newspapers. Most of the material on the website, unfortunately, is just bastardized items from other newspapers. Personally I don't like the thing because it's just a traffic leech that separates readers from the original source of whatever material they're looking for.  

Not that all the information on Examiner.Com is useless. There are some interesting local examiners, including former Sun-Sentinel reporter and editor Alan Cherry, who took a buyout from the newspaper last year. Cherry is surely one of the better ones, a guy who brings knowledge and experience to what he writes. There's also former City Linker Bob Weinberg. Those two are a couple of genuine journalists on the site.

 But real journalists aren't easy to find there. You see, anybody can be an examiner. The most rancid thing about Examiner.com is that there is no quality control whatsoever. And there are plenty of dubious sources, like Marty Rubenstein, a former Broward School Board member and dedicated political hack. Rubenstein is the official "Broward County Public Schools Examiner." His stuff is generally poorly written stump speeches in which he sometimes promotes himself. Take this piece (of what, you decide) in which he just sort of rambles about issues while making himself seem important ("it was my vote that put a stop to it"). He's got an ongoing series titled "Twisting the Debate," which seems quite apt, really. The man writes a lot, and most of it is rambling and ill-conceived.

While we don't know exactly what Rubenstein is, we do know what he isn't: a journalist. The good thing about all this is that Rubenstein isn't doing much harm because I'm quite sure very few people are reading him.

-- The Miami Herald's Amy Sherman and Breanne Gilpatrick followed my "spate of jail suicides" story and did a nice job fleshing out some of the cases, most notably the very sad story of Steven Florio, who was busted for Xanax one day and dead in a jail cell a few days later. Here's a link to the story. Just for fun, I'm linking the Sentinel web version. If the dailies want to share stories so they can lay off reporters then, let them lose hits on their scoops, right? 

-- Speaking of laid-off reporters, our local chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists is conducting a workshop on freelancing this Thursday evening (6:30 to 9) at the main branch of the Miami-Dade Public Library. A panel discussion will be moderated by SPJ President Julie Kay, herself a freelancer, and include journalists Oline Cogdill, Brett Graff, and Tristram Korten. This one has all the markings for a truly useful and practical event. For more information click here.  

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