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Greater Miami History: The Shamefulness of the Print and Broadcast Media’s Almost Total Ineptness at Properly and Truthfully Reporting It


By Seth H. Bramson

The last several weeks have been spent reading through recent articles in the Miami New Times and Miami Herald, as well as watching several so-called but anything actually but “local history programs” on Miami’s channel 17. (I will have more to report after the next book, LOST RESTAURANTS of GREATER MIAMI is published).

However, “shameful” in terms of the complete fallaciousness and utter historical slop being presented by those outlets are the only terms which are worthy of being used in describing the total nonsense being foisted on the public. The worst of that, of course, is several fold: first, those desirous of writing history in the future will look back on the erroneous garbage being written and broadcast today and quote from it; second, the utter nonsense being published or broadcast is not only beyond belief but is all the more shameful coming from media outlets which, with all their complaining, kvetching, bitching, moaning and whining about how readership or viewership are falling, are doing nothing to see to it that—unlike with stories such as the Epstein debacle—what they are presenting in terms of what is supposed to be history is accurate when, for the most part and in most cases, is simply riddled with errors.

Recently, a local public facility had an exhibit on and about the history of blacks/African-Americans in the community in which said facility is located in, and while I was pleased to have the opportunity to be there for the opening, I was absolutely dismayed in terms of how inaccurate and incorrect a good bit of the copy in the displays was.

One of the saddest—and that is the term I feel is best to use here—elements in local journalism is that a monthly newspaper, which actually does a good job of covering its distribution area, has a monthly so-called history column. The problem is that the writer not only puts in material that is completely incorrect, but, and in addition, never, ever, gives source references. (Heaven forbid anybody but he should garner any credit for doing anything to benefit the public in terms of our local and South Florida history)

A few tidbits regarding the nonsense that has appeared recently in our local media: “When Mr. Flagler extended his railroad to Miami, the Royal Palm Hotel was a station stop.” Nonsense. The railroad did build a spur from the mainline east to the hotel to accommodate wealthy individuals who had their own private railroad cars but unlike the extensions to the Ormond Hotel and to the Breakers and Royal Poinciana Hotels on Palm Beach, which were regular station stops for selected trains during the winter season, the siding to the Royal Palm was just that: a siding for occasional use, never to be used as a regular station stop.

In an article in the Herald about the Tequesta Indians’ “Miami Circle,” the author wrote that “….by 1838 American soldiers…were encamped at Fort Dallas….” and indeed, American soldiers were encamped at Fort Dallas, but by 1836, not 1838. In fact, a letter from a soldier, postmarked Fort Dallas in 1836, is in existence today.

Have you read the Herald lately? Talk about shameful. And what else can be expected from a newspaper that no longer employs one or more copy editors, assuming that the reporters will see and make their own corrections? I wish that, just as Bennett and I have threatened for years to write a book filled with the errors in our student’s writing, I had kept the examples of the innumerable and unending errors in both the Biscayne Times and the Herald over the last “x” number of years.

For the moment, I won’t go into either the times I have contacted not only both papers but the broadcast media outlets offering to be their historical fact checker or what I have proposed to do for them, but will simply state that I could get better results by talking to my closet door. As the late, great Neil Rogers (NEIL, GOD!) used to say, regarding the Herald, “they hate me like poison!”

Because I am working on something regarding a local outlet I can’t, at the moment, divulge what that is, but, as our good and dear friends, Janet Grade and Dr. Harvey Glasser have (strongly) suggested it is finally time for me to address the issue of the flawed reporting of local history on and by the local media via and using the outlets today known as “social media,” and though I am not overly well—versed in that form of communication, it appears that the time has come for me to learn how to do just that.

Now, for those who are not familiar with my qualifications to take on the task of being not only the reviewer of history articles and columns in the local media, but, indeed, to have a column in a public outlet, I would respectfully state that only three of those many qualifications need be noted here: I am America’s single most-published Florida history book author (feel free to “check me out” on amazon.com); I am the senior collector of Florida East Coast Railway, Florida transportation memorabilia, Miami memorabilia and Floridiana in the country, having begun collecting all this junque 62 years ago come May; our collection of FEC Railway and Florida transportation memorabilia is the largest in the world: it is larger than the state museum’s collection (of like items, of course, not their entire collection) and larger than the Flagler Museum’s collection, with the same qualifier in place. In addition, The Bramson Archive maintains the largest collection of Miami memorabilia and Floridiana in private hands in the country.

There is a great deal more, but that should help to explain a bit about what we have been doing (other than trying to make a living) in order to preserve our history, for the past 62 years. Frankly and honestly, I am truly tired of all that effort (and all the years of collecting) being almost—not totally but almost—either under- or un-appreciated and a good few people think, feel and believe that it is time for me to do something about it.

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