Photographer complains Miami Herald misrepresented his criminal record

Miami photographer Carlos Miller has a remarkable knack for getting arrested while aiming his camera at police officers. He also is proud that none of those arrests in Miami have resulted in convictions, although he admits, "My cases are a little complicated." So when Miami Herald reporter Paradise Afshar contacted him for a story on his Jan. 31 arrest at Occupy Miami, Miller says, he told her the disposition of his two previous photography-related arrests in the city.

Yet when Afshar's piece ran on Feb. 24, a sidebar listed his three prior brushes with the law and stated, "The outcome of all of these cases are unknown."

This stung Miller, who's not the type to suffer in silence. The same day Afshar's article appeared, he wrote a blog post called "Was the Miami Herald Biased In Their Article About Me?" In it, Miller writes that he wasn't thrown by Afshar's mention of a 1989 arrest for disturbing the peace, "even though it is ancient history. It is public record, after all. But so are the outcomes of all those arrests." (He posts court records whenever possible on his blog.)

Afshar declined to speak about the article and directed me to her editor on the story, Pat Andrews. "We should have said The Miami Herald doesn’t know the outcome of those" arrests, Andrews says. "We had not checked the records to know the outcome of those cases."

Andrews says the mistake is a consequence of newsroom economics. "This, unfortunately, is happening to our industry, especially with a newsathering organization like us." When it comes to story like Miller's, Andrews says, "We gotta hit it and move on." And indeed, the fact that the Herald published a piece about Miller's arrest three weeks after it happened suggests editors there didn't think Miller's arrest was the burning issue he did.

After the story ran, two people contacted Afshar to tell her that the sidebar was inaccurate. One was Miller's attorney, Arnold Trevilla, who Miller says "really tore into her" in his email. Another was a local blogger, South Florida Daily Blog's Rick (just "Rick"). Like Trevilla, he got no response, but he wrote Thursday that he was able to access Miller's court history on the Miami-Dade County clerk's website.

Miller said he's now planning a letter to the editor.

Shortly after this was published, the Herald updated its story to reflect the outcome of the three arrests, although no correction has been posted yet. A correction is scheduled to run in Friday's paper.

Correction: This post originally said Miller discussed the disposition of "his three previous arrests in the city" with Afshar; Miller says he discussed only his three photography-related arrests with the reporter, one of which is still under adjudication, not his 1989 arrest.

Related: What to Do When Police Tell You to Stop Taking Photos, VideoHow journalists can protect themselves & the news they’ve gathered if arrested on the job || Earlier: Baltimore police use loophole to threaten man with arrest for videotaping them

  • Andrew Beaujon

    Andrew Beaujon reported on the media for Poynter from 2012 to 2015. He was previously arts editor at and managing editor of Washington City Paper. He's the author of the 2006 book "Body Piercing Saved My Life," about Christian rock and evangelical Christian culture.


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