Ghislaine Maxwell verdict shows importance of local journalism

On Wednesday, a federal jury in New York convicted sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein’s partner and confidante, Ghislaine Maxwell, of recruiting and preparing young girls for his perversions and pleasure.

It’s an important verdict and a story of impact and international attention, which gives voice and perhaps some validation to its victims and their families.

It also powerfully demonstrates the importance of local news outlets like the Miami Herald.

I’m writing this as I approach my retirement as editor-in-chief of the Miami Herald, and I would like to take this moment to highlight the role that journalism – local journalism – has played in this saga.

Without the Miami Herald – and if you’re a subscriber, I would say, without YOUR Miami Herald – the stories of these abused women would not have been told.

Without the Herald, the privileged deal negotiated by US Attorney Alexander Acosta with Epstein would still be in effect. Acosta, who quit his post as a US lawyer to become dean of law at Florida International University and later US secretary of labor, is said to be fighting for new positions of power.

Without the Herald, Jeffrey Epstein would continue to rehabilitate his reputation, dazzling wealthy friends in Palm Beach and on his private island. And Maxwell would be by his side, flying in his private jet, helping to coordinate his social schedule and god knows what else.

Instead, Acosta resigned his cabinet post in disgrace. Epstein was indicted in federal court for his crimes and died in prison by hanging.

Instead, its enablers and supporters – there are many – have a stain on their reputation that they will not want and be able to shake. And Ghislaine Maxwell, chief facilitator, has been convicted of her crimes and awaits a conviction that could mean she will spend the rest of her life in prison.

The love agreement in the Epstein affair has not been disclosed by any of the global or national news organizations.

The hard work that sparked this chain of events came from your local news agency, the Miami Herald, and most notably from reporter Julie Brown, visual reporter Emily Michot, and investigative editor Casey Frank.

I don’t have the words to describe their extraordinary work and dedication.

But these are just three of the more than 100 committed journalists who break their mouths every day to tackle difficult stories in our community, be it why and how the Champlain Towers Condominium collapsed, a program in the l statewide failing in its mission to help families with brain-injured children, or which was behind a scheme to run bogus candidates in a local election.

In my 42 years at the Herald, I have seen a lot of changes in the news industry and many challenges in the way we do our jobs – financial constraints caused by the internet and changing consumer habits. information to what I will call the increase in spin and the war on truth.

Our newsroom is smaller than it used to be. The same goes for the newspaper itself, although our work online reaches a wider audience than ever before.

But the dedication of the Miami Herald team has never been stronger. The commitment and courage of our journalists are unwavering.

We couldn’t do it – we can’t do it – without your continued support. This week – as you hear the Herald and reporter Julie Brown mentioning around the world about the Epstein and Maxwell story, keep that in mind.

Miami Herald Editor-in-Chief Rick Hirsch

This story was originally published December 30, 2021 4:34 pm.

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