Maria Murriel

Digital editor

I manage WLRN's multimedia and engagement projects, including work on, all our social media platforms, and community events.

I help reporters produce videos, build infographics, reformat stories for maximum web-friendliness and bug them about tweeting more pretty much every day. I also coordinate our internship program. (Apply!)

The best part of my job is working with the public. I love reaching out to and hearing from people for projects like our Aftermath series, about shootings in Liberty City, and our literary contests like this year's #PostLits in partnership with the Miami Book Fair International.

I'm a cat lover with an eye for Instagoodness. I like stories about ethnicity, migration issues and the arts.

And my quest in journalism is to #engagesuburbia, because I grew up in Kendall and know there is good across 836.

Ways To Connect

Hector Gabino / El Nuevo Herald

It happened again.

Spanish-language, Miami-area-based Univision -- the nation's fifth-largest television network -- has another racial insensitivity mess to clean up.

On Wednesday, Univision talk show host and fashion commentator Rodner Figueroa said first lady Michelle Obama -- America's first African-American first lady -- looks like an apocalyptic ape.

MIFF / Courtesy

  One hundred and twenty-five films from 40 countries.

That's what the 32nd Edition of the Miami International Film Festival is all about. And festival organizers made a significant change this year. Previously, short films under thirty minutes made in Florida that had already premiered in the state weren't eligible to exhibit during the festival. This year, they are.

During a recent Florida Roundup, host Christine DiMattei spoke with South Florida film critic Hans Morgenstern about some homegrown filmmakers already causing a stir in the festival circuit:

Michael Rivera (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (] / Wikimedia Commons

The gavel falls Tuesday in Tallahassee, when Florida lawmakers officially begin the 2015 legislative session. The one item they have to do is pass a state budget -- and this year they have a $1 billion surplus, a growing state economy and a governor fresh off a re-election win.

Each spring for 60 days the Florida Legislature tackles a year's worth of state business. On the agenda this law-writing session are reforms to public-education testing, hundreds of millions of dollars of mandated spending on the environment and billions of dollars in federal money for health care.

About a year ago, the Miami Herald named business reporter Evan Benn its new food editor. He was appointed because Miami's paper of record noticed the importance of South Florida's booming culinary industry. 

That's an industry Benn is well connected with, and during this year's South Beach Wine and Food Festival, he's putting in the spotlight the people who make South Florida matter to the larger world of good cuisine.

Maria Murriel / WLRN

Polls have shown most Cuban exiles who fled the island in the '60s and '70s oppose lifting the embargo and don't believe rekindling diplomatic relationships is a smart, or permissible, political move.

But professor Jorge Duany, head of the Cuban Research Institute at Florida International University, says it's different for younger Cuban-Americans.

"In many cases," he says, "they're willing to try a different way to relate to Cuba."

Chris Alvarez, 31, and Arianna Mendez, 22, are dating. They each relate differently to the island of their ancestors.

Peetje2 / Creative Commons/Flickr

2015 began with a clarification over same-sex marriages in Florida. All county clerks can issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples beginning Tuesday, Jan. 6.

Before that happens, take a moment to hear this interview with the Miami Herald's Steve Rothaus. You'll learn all the background info you need to understand what's going on in the courts locally and in Tallahassee.

Key points:

Andy Newman / Florida Keys News Bureau

UPDATE Jan. 2, 4:23 p.m.: A spokesperson from the Palm Beach County Clerk of Court's office said clerk Sharon Bock will perform a group wedding for gay couples at 12:01 a.m. Tuesday.

The office will begin processing same-sex marriage licenses at 10:30 p.m. Monday.

A statement from Monroe County's Clerk of Courts says that office will process up to 100 marriage-license applications during regular office hours Monday, issuing the first licenses at 12:01 a.m. Tuesday.


B Breland Photograhy/flickr

The first bill expected to pass quickly when the Legislature opens in March would force dog tracks to report greyhound injuries within seven days.

Jeff Flake

U.S. government contract worker Alan Gross was released Wednesday morning after a five-year imprisonment in Cuba.

The 65-year-old, now in poor health, was sentenced to 15 years in prison by a Cuban court in 2011 for bringing telecommunications devices onto the island.

WLRN has reported on Gross' trajectory with the Cuban government and you can read those stories here.

At noon Wednesday, President Barack Obama also announced his new approach in U.S.-Cuba relations.

Filmmakers Bleeding Palm and Borscht Corp.

Organizers of the Borscht Film Festival say it's about telling the stories of the region by people who are from the area.

"We tell unique Florida stories, unique Miami stories," says Borscht veteran Jillian Mayer. "Miami and Florida is often portrayed a certain way in the media, and that's most likely a result of previous cinematic work that's come out of here."

Mayer says it's those Miami stereotypes that they want to avoid.