On a mostly sun drenched South Florida day, about 900 former Miami Herald employees—myself included-- joined the current staff on Wednesday to reminisce, cry, and mourn the loss of the once proud building by the bay that will soon become a hotel/condo and possible mega casino now planned for the old property.
The Miami Herald isn’t going away. The newspaper operations, along with news partner WLRN, will move out to Doral in April.
Newspaper people are an interesting lot. We’re driven by forces that even we don’t fully comprehend--photographers trying to get that best shot that explains more than words ever could, or scooping the competition with a news item they didn’t see coming, or creating an investigative piece that can evoke strong enough emotions to change laws, and more.
Sometimes that passion led to shouting matches and thrown typewriters, and other times it led to 20 Pulitzer Prizes and other awards that signified excellence. On this day, though, everyone hugged each other and seemed to only remember the best times, the friendships, the camaraderie, and the very best news product that such a diverse group could produce.
We wandered around the halls, admiring the great views over the bay and city. The location, though, at the time of construction, was purely for efficiency sake and not aesthetics. Rolls of newsprint came via barges on the bay. You could always tell when a shipment came in as each roll would shake the building.
I took a walk by my old office on the fifth floor and looked out the window where I had seen the sun set over the Orange Bowl for 17 years. Where once was a clean shot, the massive Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts now sits, and the Marlins Park now occupies the OB spot, though it’s quite difficult to see with all the towering condos that have sprung up over the last decade.
The end of the old Herald building is, to me, symbolic of the state of our business. The building was called outdated with no historical significance. Judging by what I’ve seen on social sites, so has the print media. Times have changed. Far too many don’t trust what the media reports. They call them “stories,” as if everything reported was just made up gibberish, instead of the factual account by highly trained professionals.
People seem too rushed to acknowledge the news, let alone understand the world around them. It’s far easier to hear it from a friend, who heard it from a friend, who heard it from a friend on Facebook, rather than from a reputable source like the Herald.
Sadly, we’ve seen readership decline across America to a point that none of us in the business would have imagined. And so it seems fitting that the poor old Herald building should be torn to dust to make way for bigger, brighter, and splashier entertainment for some people with limited attention spans.
As all the photographers from the past and present gathered for one last group shot in front of the building, it began to rain on us, as if tears coming from above saying thank you for your unselfish service, your unflagging devotion, you’ve done what you could – farewell.
Bill Andrews, a former Miami Herald photographer, and his wife, Star, both work at Nova Southeastern University in the Health Professions Division Library. He calls Hollywood home and has been a resident of South Florida for most of his life.