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From AJR,   December 1998  issue

Heralded Departures   

Two of Miami Herald's top talents leave for elsewhere in Florida.

By Lori Robertson
Lori Robertson (robertson.lori@gmail.com), a former AJR managing editor, is a senior contributing writer for the magazine.      

The Miami Herald experiences painful defections as ace feature writer Michael Browning and two-time Pulitzer co-winner Sydney P. Freedberg take their talents elsewhere in Florida. Browning, a Tallahassee-based regional correspondent and a 20-year Herald veteran, becomes a Palm Beach Post feature writer. And Freedberg, an investigative reporter, goes to the St. Petersburg Times. While both say other causes had much to do with their exits from the Herald--Browning says he has family reasons and Freedberg's antsy nature is a factor--both brought up profit pressures from parent Knight Ridder as among their reasons for leaving. "I very much wanted to give a try to an independent paper that's satisfied with a 12 percent profit margin," says Freedberg, who has worked at the Herald since 1983, aside from a year she spent with the Wall Street Journal's Miami bureau. The Herald's profit goal for 2000 is 22 percent, though that number is subject to change. Publisher Alberto IbargŁen doesn't sound overly panicked about the departures. With 440-plus newsroom employees, he says, "if four or five or 10 leave in the course of a year, that's absolutely normal." He stresses that other newspaper companies produce quality papers and earn even higher profits. Browning, 50, and Freedberg, 44, both have good things to say about their stints at the Herald. "It was a great, great paper," Browning says. "They've been very kind to me."