Standout journalist loses her job while Herald hacks err

The Miami Herald reported last Friday that Ileana Varela and Jade Alexander has been “let go”. But of course they got the details wrong:

The financial crisis is hitting the media industry harder, and faster, than expected. On Friday WBFS-My33, the sister station to WFOR-CBS4, let go several popular on-air personalities and cut its original programming.
Jim & Jade in the Morning, which aired weekdays from 7 to 9 a.m. and was hosted by Jim Berry and Jade Alexander, had its last broadcast on Friday. The My33 Weekend Newscast, anchored by Ileana Varela, has been canceled and will not run this weekend.
Alexander and Varela have been let go. Berry, who also anchors CBS 4 This Morning, will stay on in that position. Several production and technical jobs associated with the two programs were also cut.
”In today’s economic climate you have to be competitive,” said Lee Zimmerman, spokesman for WFOR. “Unfortunately those shows were not performing as well as we hoped.”

WFOR is making it sound like Varela is losing her job because her gig on their sister station My33 wasn’t getting good ratings. But I’ve learned that Varela was not even paid for that broadcast, it was an additional responsibility given to her when her colleague Jawan Strader moved to weekdays. Ileana has been the weekend anchor for the mothership WFOR for the past 10 years. She has been at WFOR for almost 20 years.
Now this upsets me greatly. Not because both Jade Alexander and Ileana Varela are Cuban-Americans (though I have to admit that that stings) but because in the case of Varela she was one of the few local journalists with a clue about Cuba, a story that has been in local headlines for 50 years. And of those few she was the best.
WFOR had been my favorite source for local news and Varela was no small part of that, I even hosted a banner ad for them at Herald Watch. Now I’m going to have find another source, not that there are any better alternatives. It’s a small futile gesture but I’ll be removing that banner ad.