A New Year’s message to our Miami Herald readers

During this time of year, we reflect on what is most important to us. At the Miami Herald, that’s you, our readers. Because providing you with the highest quality journalism – honest, balanced and reliable – is at the core of our mission. You place your trust in us, and we work hard to earn that trust.

What’s more, your readership is invaluable. As this historic election year has shown, it has never been more important to support a free and unbiased press. The spread of “fake news” on social media blurs the lines between fact and fiction, influences public opinion and erodes our democracy.

Real news – the kind you support as a reader of the Miami Herald – is reporting that effects positive change. Helping us understand those with different perspectives. Bringing injustices to light. Giving a voice to those who need it most. And making our community a better place to live.

Here are some of the ways your support helped make a difference this year:

Young and Under the Gun – Reporting on the death of King Carter, a 6-year-old boy killed by a stray bullet whose death rocked a Northwest Miami-Dade community, led to an unflinching look at how avoiding inner-city violence has become a daily challenge for parents and kids, and how youths caught in the crossfire are dying at the rate of one a week.

The Panama Papers – We picked through the massive pile of records and, in partnership with McClatchy and the International Consortium for Investigative Journalists, found information on how the influx of secret foreign money had distorted Miami's real estate market, pushing prices out of reach for locals. We also discovered a link between a top aide of former Argentine President Néstor Kirchner and $65 million in luxury condo and commercial property purchases, broadening an investigation by an Argentine federal prosecutor.

Carnival’s inaugural Cuba cruises – We reported that, at the outset, Carnival was not allowing Cuban Americans born in Cuba to travel by cruise ship to the island due to Cuban regulations. Outraged readers protested and filed lawsuits, and our columns led to changes in two nations. Carnival stated it would stop sailing until Cuba changed its stance. And a few days later, Cuba did just that.

City of Opa-locka corruption scandal – Our year-long investigation into the corrupt practices in Opa-locka has been detailed, authoritative and devastating. It showed how city leaders squeezed businesses for bribes and dispensed favors to friends. Several have been arrested and pleaded guilty, including the mayor's son.

Pulse Massacre – Our breaking-news coverage on the mass shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando was fast and thorough. We dispatched a veteran team of reporters to both Orlando and Fort Pierce, where the shooter lived. Within three days, the Herald published a minute-by-minute timeline of the terror at Pulse, with eyewitness accounts, diagrams, text messages and more, giving readers a gripping insight into the events of the tragedy.

Zika – Our coverage has been comprehensive and informative while not overly alarmist. We were the first to report on detection of a Zika cluster in Miami Beach. When the state and county refused to disclose precisely where mosquitos with Zika had been trapped, we sued and the information was made public.

Hurricane Matthew in Haiti – We reported on the massive devastation caused by the Category 4 storm in the impoverished nation. For weeks, under extreme conditions, our reporter was the information pipeline out of Haiti. To accomplish that, she cajoled her way through barricades, overcame physical and technological obstacles and tweeted, videoed, What's App-ed; translated everything from Creole; and filed daily stories so readers would understand the depth of the crisis.

Fidel Castro – When news broke during the Thanksgiving holiday of Fidel Castro’s death, years of planning by Herald journalists resulted in the most comprehensive coverage anywhere – from his obituary to in-depth analysis of the future of Cuba. Our wide-ranging coverage provided perspective on what Castro’s death will mean for Miami, home to the largest population of Cubans outside the island.

As 2016 draws to a close, your faith in our reporting is more meaningful than ever. Thanks for reading the Miami Herald, and best wishes for a healthy and joyful New Year.

Alexandra Villoch, President and Publisher

Aminda Marqués Gonzalez, Executive Editor