Best of Miami 2014: Here Are the Media Winners in This Year's Issue
The latest edition of Best of Miami is on stands around town, packed with hundreds of our choices for everything from the finest smoky dive bars to the greatest elegant craft cocktails, from the number one spot to kayak to the coolest thrift stores -- and, of course, all of your choices for the tops in town.
If you haven't grabbed an issue yet, here are just a few of the local writers, broadcasters, and bloggers we've honored in this year's issue. For a full list, check out Best of Miami 2014 online or on stands today.
Best Miami Herald Reporter: Jim Wyss
The trouble began in San Cristobal, a hilly town hugging the winding border between Venezuela and Colombia. Jim Wyss was there to talk about contraband, the black-market goods that flood across the border in a country where Hugo Chávez's Bolivarian Revolution continues to wreak havoc on the economy long after his death. A promised interview with a border general turned into hours of waiting, though, and when Wyss tried to bail, he was suddenly thrown into a car and whisked away to a military intelligence compound. This was no interview, he learned; he was under arrest. Such are the occupational hazards of life as the Miami Herald's Andean bureau chief. As one of the last full-time American daily staffers on the foreign-reporting beat, Wyss carries a heavy load from his home base in Bogotá. Yet it's to his credit that writing about an entire continent hasn't led to an influx of dry reports about economic trends or political horseraces.
Instead, between his hard-hitting updates on regional conflicts, Wyss has turned in wild narratives about a War of the Worlds-like radio show terrifying Ecuador, graffiti art taking over Bogotá, and Colombian Christmas ads aimed at shaming guerrillas straight. And as that day in San Cristobal shows, he has put his neck on the line to find the stories. For almost 48 hours after his sudden arrest in November 2013, Wyss sat in jail cells wondering whether Maduro's government planned to make an example of the Yankee reporter who had poked too deeply into the troubled regime's issues.
With the help of American diplomats, though, saner heads prevailed and Wyss was released. And then? He wrote a killer story about the whole ordeal, of course.
Best Blog: Political Cortadito
After four years of barking at dishonest politicians and lobbyists, former Miami Herald reporter Elaine de Valle has pulled off a rare feat in this town: She's treated with the same respect afforded to credentialed journalists employed by the dead-lumber media companies. And it's no surprise why. The hard-nosed, old-school reporter tallied 18 years at the Herald before founding Political Cortadito, where she's become a go-to online watchdog sniffing out the latest shenanigans of South Florida's elected officials. From Homestead to Hialeah, de Valle has blown up corruption and unethical behavior and scored a parade of scoops.
In the first half of 2014 alone, she broke news about Coral Gables City Manager Pat Salerno giving benefits and raises to his favored employees before abruptly resigning, the Doral City Council's surprise move to axe ex-Miami city manager Joe Carollo, and former state representative Ana Rivas Logan's shocking move to bail on the GOP and become a Democrat.
Even when sources slam doors in her face or get her thrown out of rooms, de Valle -- often writing as her alter ego "Ladra" -- keeps nipping at their heels. Her relentless nature and work ethic have made her blog a must-read for thousands of followers who still care about changing Miami's banana republic political culture by using a healthy dose of transparency.