It wouldn’t have been a Carl Hiaasen column if it didn’t go on the attack. In his Miami Herald farewell on Friday, Mr. Hiaasen took aim at the sorry state of local news coverage.
“Retail corruption is now a breeze,” he wrote, “since newspapers and other media can no longer afford enough reporters to cover all the key government meetings.”
Mr. Hiaasen, 68, joined The Miami Herald as a reporter in 1976 and started his column in 1985. Along the way he became a best-selling author, writing about Florida’s underbelly and environmental devastation in comic novels like “Tourist Season,” “Sick Puppy” and “Strip Tease.” Now he will no longer have a weekly venue for skewering government officials, business leaders and the various absurdities of life in the Sunshine State.
“Nobody becomes a journalist because they yearn for mass adoration,” he wrote in his final column. “Donald Trump didn’t turn the public against the mainstream media; the news business has never been popular.”
Mr. Hiaasen also used his goodbye to pay tribute to his brother, Rob, a journalist who was killed in a gunman’s rampage at The Capital Gazette in Maryland in 2018. He also thanked The Herald’s “talented, tenacious” editors and reporters.
The paper was owned by the newspaper publisher Knight Ridder when he started working there. In 2006, the McClatchy Company, a family-run newspaper chain, bought Knight Ridder for $4.5 billion. Last year Chatham Asset Management, a New Jersey hedge fund, bought McClatchy, and The Herald along with it, in a bankruptcy auction.
In an interview Monday, Mr. Hiaasen said he had lasted 45 years at The Herald because it was “a good fit.”
“I always felt privileged to be able to write for a paper that I read as a kid growing up here in Florida and to be writing in a place that I care about,” he said. “I was lucky to be at this paper as a reporter in the ’70s and ’80s, when Miami was catching fire. It was a hell of a newspaper, hell of a news town and I was lucky to be there.”
He said he planned to do more fishing but will continue writing books. “Nobody really retires as a writer,” Mr. Hiaasen said. “You keel face forward into the keyboard one day and that’s it.”
He added that the hardest thing to watch during his career was the shrinking of the local news industry, saying, “There are fewer and fewer boots on the ground to do the grunt work required to keep democracy informed.”