Oops, Herald does it again.

A couple of days ago our very own Humberto Fontova ran across an article at Herald.com that piqued his curiosity. It was an article that was sourced to something called ACN. ACN is an official (that is to say castro regime operated) information service.

The regime in Havana has been manipulating press around the world since the very beginning with things like “Prensa Latina” which is supposed to be a Spanish language equivalent of AP. Of course its just a distribution point for castroite propaganda. Many media outlets, particularly in the third world where the regime is popular, publish these items as if they were legitimate. For the most part the legitimate international media does not publish these items though everyone who reports on Cuba reads them and many are perhaps influenced by them.

But Humberto’s discovery was different. It was as if the Herald had suddenly become an American version of Xinhua (Chinese) News. Additionally the ACN items in question were being hosted in a herald.com directory labeled “AP” (Associated Press). If someone managed to find the story they would find a piece of castroite propaganda under the Herald’s masthead in a directory related to the Associated Press and sourced to a service that 99.99% of Americans are surely unaware of (ACN). The result is that the regime scores a big victory. It has a direct channel into the mainstream American media with no filters or editors.

I sent several inquiries to the Herald and finally received a response late last night. I was told that:

The story had AP in the coding for technical reasons, namely it was located in an area of the site that previously was occupied by an automatic AP feed. In the future, we’ll make any reports we pick up from the Cuban government media clear about the source.

In my reply to the Herald staffer I explained that this wasn’t just an issue of sourcing information since most people have no idea what ACN is. That if the Herald wants to publish these reports it should publish them with a very visible disclaimer that explains that they come from official castro regime sources and thus anything contained within them do not represent actual news but instead the castro regime’s point of view on the news. Google distributes these types of items from Cuba but Google is not a news organization. It has no editors, no fact checkers, no correspondents. It’s a glorified aggregator. The Herald, despite the fact that is circling the drain, still has some credibility as the only major daily newspaper in an important American city.

The Herald staffer also added this:

As you probably know, we also publish dissident reports on miamiherald.com/cuba.

In my response, I explained that regardless of what else the paper does the publishing of items from ACN in the manner they were publishing them seems unethical and adds to the mountains of castroite disinformation that’s out there.

Besides I would say that publishing dissident reports in the same way (without any context about the source) is also wrong. The point is that people should know what they are reading so they can judge for themselves whether the content is valid. Would the Herald post similar items from HNS (initials I just made up for Hamas News Service)? I don’t think so.

Well, I have news to report. As of today, the Herald has removed almost all ACN material from Herald.com. I assume the one straggler item was overlooked.

Somehow they must have come to their senses at 1 Herald Plaza. I understand the desire to be online hub for information about Cuba (believe me I understand it) and as I have mentioned I am not, in theory, opposed to the Herald reporting on what the official castro regime line is. It’s just the way these articles were published, in their totality and without context about the source, as if they were coming from legitimate (to many) news services like EFE, AFP, or Reuters. I have my beef with all of these news services but that’s not the point here. They are not controlled by the castro regime. They are often duped by it, but that’s a different story.

In any case, I want to thank Humberto Fontova for uncovering this and Kevin Gregory and PJ Gladnick for blogging about it, you guys are the best.