BY BUDDY NEVINS
Within weeks Fort Lauderdale will have no daily newspaper for the first time in many generations.
The reporters, editors and others are moving out of the current Fort Lauderdale headquarters to a soulless office park in west Deerfield Beach.
Miles from the Broward School Board.
Miles from the Broward County Commission.
Miles from the Broward Sheriff’s Office HQ.
Miles from the news.
Howard Saltz, Sun-Sentinel publisher
The paper’s coverage already suffers from too many stories that are cobbled together by journalists who never leave their computers. How many more of these will there be when the journalists are so far from where the news is generated?
The move is designed to save money since paper will no longer need to pay East Broward Boulevard prices to rent an office. The staff will be housed in the paper’s printing plant.
One loser is downtown Fort Lauderdale’s fantasies of being an urban center.
The Sun-Sentinel’s move is another example of why Fort Lauderdale is not really the center of most Broward residents’ lives. It’s a city planner’s obsession, not a reflection of Broward’s reality.
More people live, work and recreate at the Davie education center, where at least ten school campuses are located. Yet there are skimpy plans for transportation relief to Davie compared to the $100s million envisioned for The Wave streetcar in downtown Fort Lauderdale.
The Sun-Sentinel has been moving out of downtown Fort Lauderdale for years. They built their printing plant in Deerfield Beach decades ago, a smart investment considering today’s traffic in Fort Lauderdale between downtown and the highways.
Many of the media company’s staffers hate the upcoming move. Others told me that they like the proximity to I-95 and their homes, plus talk that they won’t have to regularly show up in Deerfield Beach.
“We have been told we don’t have to come in the office very often,” one reporter said. That comment was echoed by other sources.
If those comments are true, something will be lost in the new arrangement.
I worked in the media, admittedly back in the Dark Ages. Newsrooms at the time were a bubbling brew of gossip, tips and mentoring generously dolloped among the staff. The interaction served to improve stories and get more news in the paper.
The collaboration was like an additional year of journalism school, especially for younger reporters.
I can’t begin to remember how many times I suggested a way to nail down a story to a reporter who was stuck. I can’t remember all the times another staffer or editor helped me.
My column survived on tips from others, who sidled up to my desk with something they heard from their own sources.
Stories in those days were collaborative efforts.
Under the arrangement being discussed, Sun-Sentinel staffers will be working alone. In isolation.
Yes, they will get feedback from the disembodied voice over cells of their editors cloistered in the Deerfield Beach printing plant. Or from editors’ emails.
Research has shown that humans – That category includes journalists, although some may doubt that! – use body language and interactions with others to understand the world around them. That is why working alone is not the best environment for many.
Sun-Sentinel journalists may have a tougher time growing and improving when working largely alone, in addition to being far from where news is taking place.
Speaking at a downtown Fort Lauderdale breakfast meeting in the summer, Sun-Sentinel Publisher Howard Saltz denounced much of the paper’s Internet competition. He branded it a bunch of out-of-touch bloggers secluded in their parents’ basement.
His reporters in the future may not be in their parent’s basement. But they run the risk of being just as removed from Broward County.
(Note: The Miami Herald moved from downtown Miami sometime ago to a faceless office park in West Dade, equally far from much of the news.)