With umpteen publications commemorating the 50th anniversary of Castro’s Cuban Revolution, several newspapers are simultaneously waiting for the dictator to pass on. Editor & Publisher senior editor Joe Strupp gives a breakdown of the extensive plan the Miami Herald has in place for when Castro finally shuffles off this mortal coil.
According to Manny Garcia, the senior news editor for the Herald, Castro is “the journalistic equivalent of a kidney stone — a constant pain who never seems to go away, and you pray that he passes, soon.” Morbid and a tad insensitive, maybe, but the fact remains that Fidel has stubbornly stayed alive and in power despite failing health and near-constant rumors that he’s suffered a heart attack or slipped into a coma or died in his sleep.
The preparation for the actual event of his death is of epic proportions. “The Cuba plan,” as Garcia calls it, is a three-ring binder filled with information and contact numbers necessary to the story. “The Cuba plan went on a Mediterranean cruise with my family. It’s been to Barcelona, Rome, Vancouver, Disney World — even down North Carolina’s Nanthahala River — safely tucked in a waterproof bag while my son and I rafted.” The Herald already has several different versions of Castro’s obit tailored to time of day or night, plus a range of photos from young to old and an in memoriam webpage ready to go online at a moment’s notice. And when Fidel dies, no matter what the staff members are doing, no matter where they are, everyone is under strict orders to report for duty.