Many of Florida’s most significant news stories in 2016 happened in the dark.
We learned that Cuban strongman Fidel Castro had died in the middle of the night. We awoke to the terrible news that the Miami Marlins’ ace pitcher Jose Fernandez had perished in a boating accident. We were stunned at the scope of the carnage at Orlando’s Pulse nightclub in the wee hours of June 2.
At the Miami Herald, we consider it our job — our duty — to shed light on events such as these. We think we did our job the best when the stakes were highest.
You may have missed some of the Herald’s most significant stories for 2016, or you may want to read them again, to remember some of the most important events that shaped Miami, South Florida and the state. So we offer a recap of some of the Herald’s best journalism for 2016.
When the pestilence that is Zika arrived in Florida, we gave you a detailed history of the cursed disease’s carrier, the Aedes aegypti mosquito, which had been associated with yellow fever and dengue in earlier generations. We told you the story of Micaela Milagros Mendoza, born at 8 pounds and 1 ounce and with no apparent signs of the disease’s horrible toll; Still, her birth was shrouded in uncertainty. We analyzed the virus’ impact on Miami-Dade’s economy, concluding it was “no mosquito-sized nibble.” We revealed that Florida health regulators appeared to be understating the significance of the threat, perhaps in an effort to mitigate its impact on tourism.
In April, we disclosed that grand jurors were investigating allegations that corrupt politicians had turned “the levers of city government into a cash generator for themselves and others.” In August, we detailed how city leaders had turned its water and sewer system into an “extortion racket.” The next month, we detailed how the city squandered hundreds of thousands of dollars in taxpayer money, even as Opa-locka was on the verge of insolvency.
Our coverage of the shooting rampage included a detailed timeline of the events inside the club, where a gunman turned 49 “customers to corpses.” We told you the harrowing story of how “the crew of Station 5,” a team of firefighters and paramedics, located close enough to “hear the horror,” tried to cope with the rampage’s aftermath. We gave you a deep profile of the nightclub’s shooter, Omar Mateen.
On Sept. 25, we delivered the awful news that the Marlins’ All Star, whose “joy lit up the stadium,” had been killed in a boating accident. Columnist Dan Le Batard told you what made Fernandez special — most notably his grandmother. We brought you to the young man’s funeral, along with 3,000 Marlins fans who lined the motorcade route, many wearing Fernandez’s No. 16 jersey. We showed how “everything seemed right in Jose Fernandez’s life” — right until it didn’t.
Our obituary of the Cuban dictator was equal parts detailed history and riveting narrative. Our staff brought you to the streets of Calle Ocho and Hialeah for the Cuban exile celebration that was decades in the making. Our columnist Fabiola Santiago explained why she had been waiting all her life “for this moment.” Food editor Carlos Frias described the pure joy of his father.
We disclosed that a strategist for Florida’s solar power initiative had privately acknowledged the amendment was a Trojan horse that would “completely negate” the interests of solar advocates. Amendment 1’s political committee later “scrubbed” its website of any mention of the strategist after we broke that story. The Herald’s Fred Grimm called out Florida’s electric utility monopolies for “mendacious doublespeak.”
We reported that Florida had more private property at risk due to climate change than any other state. We detailed the effects of the change on Florida’s “rugged tip,” Cape Sable. Though Florida may be the state most imperiled by climate change, the administration of Gov. Rick Scott had banned the use of the term, we reported. And, for Florida, the canary in the coal mine might well be the octopus in the parking garage.
We told you how the caregiver for a 23-year-old man with autism was shot by police while holding his arms in the air, inflaming the tension between police and black men. We gave you a detailed timeline, showing less than six minutes elapsed between when police were called to the North Miami intersection, and a behavior aide was left bloodied. We showed how the fallout from the shooting fell unevenly on the two men whose lives collided that afternoon.