Knight Foundation – You’ve Got a Lot of Nerve

Grant Miller

The Miami Herald and El Nuevo Herald are on life support. Where is its leadership?

Let’s start with the facts: The reporters, editors, designers and photographers were underpaid before parent company, McClatchy, declared bankruptcy. The writers felt so jerked around by the constant cost cutting and layoffs that the majority of journalists formed One Herald Guild to create leverage as the company’s financial hill gets steeper and harder to climb.

Where is the leadership of both and the Knight Foundation, with the non-profit having an endowment of more than $2.4 billion. Remember after Hurricane Andrew, how The Herald’s leadership jumped to the front of the pack in the rebuilding of Miami-Dade County? Where is that leadership now when one of the country’s shining stars of journalism is on the ropes

That’s basically the same thing I said in my last column, where I called on the Foundation, created to fuel good journalism, to find a way to fund McClatchy. Not only did the non-profit not respond directly, but they had their minions call me to hide behind their charter on their behalf. So what if the charter prohibits direct investment in a newspaper. If The Herald’s only hope is to fly into the hands of prospective buyer Chatham Asset Management, and its principles are flushed into Biscayne Bay, then how can the Foundation justify its own existence?

The Herald Guild is campaigning to prevent Chatham Asset Management, owner of the National Enquirer’s media company, from buying McClatchy. If you don’t know, the National Enquirer has been a tool of Donald Trump, catching and killing stories that were problematic for his image and clubbing his political opponents including Hillary Clinton. What would happen to The Herald under its leadership?

As we struggle through the virus, my brother Michael and I have been calling for the next generation of leaders to step up. The Herald, El Nuevo and The Foundation should pull together and engage the community through virtual town halls and call for corporate players to match money from McClatchy or a journalism-friendly buyer to fully fund the paper, and deal with its unfunded retirement commitment for former and some current employees. They need to come together and apply a strategy that leads to a sustainable operation. How about Norman Braman, Jorge Mas and other local business leaders form a task force to build a group to fund Miami’s newspapers. It worked for the new soccer team, right? I’m here to submit my name as the first member of the task force.

I know it’s not easy, but we all have to work together and come up with a plan that works for the long haul. The Herald is an essential service not an appetizer for a profit ravenous hedge fund. The mission of the Foundation is the same mission of the newspapers. One depends on the other.

Humbly borrowing from Mark 3:25, if a house divided against itself cannot stand, then the Knight Foundation divided from the chain of papers that created it is like an Arbetter’s hot dog with no sauerkraut. It just won’t cut it.

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  1. Interesting argument, Grant. Even if funding The Herald through the Knight Foundation were under consideration, there are multiple restrictions on how a foundation may invest its funds. Funding a failing newspaper may be one of those. Second, why would the KF throw good money after bad? Nothing may save The Herald. Miami may have to let it go.


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