It took Rick of the South Florida Daily Blog five minutes to find the dispositions of my previous arrests on the Miami-Dade County Clerk of Court website.
Yet the Miami Herald blamed “newsroom economics” for failing to do the same in the eight days Paradise Afshar worked on the story, calling me three times, including once where I gave her the detailed description of my two previous cases for photograping police against their wishes.
And newsroom economics did not stop her from unveiling my 1989 arrest for disturbing the peace at the age of 20, an incident that I’ve long ago written off as youthful indiscretions.
But newsroom economics is the excuse they gave to Andrew Beaujon, who covers media issues for The Poynter Institute.
Afshar declined to speak about the article and directed me to her editor on the story, Pat Andrews. “We should have said The Miami Herald doesn’t know the outcome of those” arrests, Andrews says. “We had not checked the records to know the outcome of those cases.”
Andrews says the mistake is a consequence of newsroom economics. “This, unfortunately, is happening to our industry, especially with a newsathering organization like us.” When it comes to story like Miller’s, Andrews says, “We gotta hit it and move on.” And indeed, the fact that the Herald published a piece about Miller’s arrest three weeks after it happened suggests editors there didn’t think Miller’s arrest was the burning issue he did.
If it is true that Herald editors did not think a story of a police officer deleting footage from the camera of a journalist was a burning issue, then it’s obvious they are in the wrong business.
Also, I completely understand the “hit it and move on” mentality. I do it myself when I’m up late and tired but wanting to post a story before I go to sleep. Or when I have other assignments or appointments I need to address during the day.
But Afshar worked on the story for more than a week in which she called me three different times for quotes and information, which makes it seem more like a “hit piece and move on.”
Especially considering the cop who had me arrested, Miami-Dade Police Major Nancy Perez, is a public information officer whose job it is to feed information to the media.
And especially when the Herald has refused to publish the letter I sent to the editor last Friday clarifying the inaccuracies, which I posted below:
As the subject in Paradise Afshar’s article titled “Photography group complains about arrest during Occupy Miami,” I was certain that she had all the facts because we spoke several times on the phone over a course of a week.
And she specifically asked me the outcome of each of my arrests for photographing police against their wishes.
So I was a little surprised when she wrote that “the outcome of all these cases are unknown.”
So for the sake of accuracy, I would like to clarify for the Miami Herald readers the outcome of those cases.
In 2007, I was arrested on several charges after photographing Miami police against their wishes.
In 2008, I was acquitted of disorderly conduct and disobeying a lawful order in that case, but I was convicted of resisting arrest without violence.
I appealed that conviction pro se, meaning without a lawyer, and had it reversed. The Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office then dropped the charge.
In 2009, I was arrested for disorderly intoxication after I photographed a Miami Beach police officer against his wishes. The Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office switched the charge to resisting arrest because they had no evidence that I was drunk.
The case was dismissed when the arresting officer failed to attend trial on two occasions.
So the outcome of my two previous arrests for photographing police against their wishes was that I was acquitted on all charges.
I told Ms. Afshar that on the phone. This information is available via public records. And this information is also available on my blog and several other sites who managed to get the story right.
And hopefully this information will now be available to Miami Herald readers who were left wondering why the outcome of those cases is unknown.
Today, the Herald updated its piece to include the disposition of my arrests. It also ran a “corrections and clarifications” for its inaccuracies.
As for me, I have no beef with Afshar or the Herald. My beef is not even with the Miami-Dade Police Department.
My beef is with Major Nancy Perez who not only singled me out for arrest among various reporters, but who most likely was the one who ordered the deletion of my footage.
But I’ll handle that beef civilly on my blog and in the courtroom.
Meanwhile, we will continue to depend on bloggers to fill in the gaps left in the mainstream media by newsroom economics.
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Also, if you would like to contribute to my Legal Defense Fund stemming from my latest arrest, please buy a photographers’ rights lens cloth and/or laminated card to wear around your neck like a press badge through Zap Rag. Please write “carlos3” in the comments section of the Paypal transaction to ensure I receive a portion of the sale.
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