The newspaper employs over 800 people in Miami and across several bureaus, including Bogotá, Managua, Tallahassee, Vero Beach, Key West, another shared space in McClatchy's Washington bureau. Its newsroom staff of about 450 includes 144 reporters, 69 editors, 69 copy editors, 29 photographers, five graphic artists (not including page designers), 11 columnists, sixteen critics, 48 editorial specialists, and 18 news assistants.
The newspaper has been awarded 22 Pulitzer Prizes since beginning publication in 1903. Well-known columnists include Pulitzer-winning political commentator Leonard Pitts, Jr., Pulitzer-winning reporter Mirta Ojito, humorist Dave Barry and novelist Carl Hiaasen. Other columnists include Fred Grimm and sportswriters Edwin Pope, Dan Le Batard and Greg Cote. Alexandra Villoch is the publisher, and Aminda Marqués Gonzalez is the executive editor.
The newspaper averages 88 pages daily and 212 pages on Sundays.
The Miami Herald's coverage of Latin American and Hispanic affairs is widely considered among the best of U.S. newspapers.
The Miami Herald also participates in "Politifact Florida", a website that focuses on the truth about Florida issues, along with the Tampa Bay Times, which created the Politifact concept. The Herald and the Times share resources on news stories related to Florida.
The first edition was published September 15, 1903, as The Miami Evening Record. After the recession of 1907, the newspaper had severe financial difficulties. Its largest creditor was Henry Flagler. Through a loan from Henry Flagler, Frank B. Shutts, who was also the founder of the law firm Shutts & Bowen, acquired the paper and renamed it the Miami Herald on December 1, 1910. Although it is the longest continuously published newspaper in Miami, the earliest newspaper in the region was The Tropical Sun, established in 1891. The Miami Metropolis, which later became The Miami News, was founded in 1896, and was the Herald's oldest competitor until 1988, when it went out of business.
During the Florida land boom of the 1920s, the Miami Herald was the largest newspaper in the world, as measured by lines of advertising. During The Great Depression in the 1930s, the Herald came close to receivership, but recovered.
On October 25, 1939, John S. Knight, son of a noted Ohio newspaperman, bought the Herald from Frank B. Shutts. Knight became editor and publisher, and made his brother, James L. Knight, the business manager. The Herald had 383 employees. Lee Hills arrived as city editor in September 1942. He later became the Herald's publisher and eventually the chairman of Knight-Ridder Inc., a position he held until 1981.
The Miami Herald International Edition, printed by partner newspapers throughout the Caribbean and Latin America, began in 1946. It is commonly available at resorts in the Caribbean countries such as the Dominican Republic, and, though printed by the largest local newspaper Listín Diario, it is not available outside such tourist areas. It was extended to Mexico in 2002.
The Herald won its first Pulitzer Prize in 1950, for its reporting on Miami's organized crime. Its circulation was 176,000 daily and 204,000 on Sundays.
On August 19, 1960, construction began on the Herald building on Biscayne Bay. Also on that day, Alvah H. Chapman, started work as James Knight's assistant. Chapman was later promoted to Knight-Ridder chairman and chief executive officer. The Herald moved into its new building at One Herald Plaza without missing an edition on March 23–24, 1963.
The paper won a landmark press freedom decision in Miami Herald Publishing Co. v. Tornillo (1974). In the case, a political candidate, Pat Tornillo Jr., had requested that the Herald print his rebuttal to an editorial criticizing him, citing Florida's "right-to-reply" law, which mandated that newspapers print such responses. Represented by longtime counsel Dan Paul, the Herald challenged the law, and the case was appealed to the Supreme Court. The Court unanimously overturned the Florida statute under the Press Freedom Clause of the First Amendment, ruling that "Governmental compulsion on a newspaper to publish that which 'reason' tells it should not be published is unconstitutional." The decision showed the limitations of a 1969 decision, Red Lion Broadcasting Co. v. Federal Communications Commission, in which a similar "Fairness Doctrine" had been upheld for radio and television, and establishing that broadcast and print media had different Constitutional protections.
In 2003, the Miami Herald and El Universal of Mexico City created an international joint venture, and in 2004 they together launched The Herald Mexico, a short-lived English-language newspaper for readers in Mexico. Its final issue was published in May 2007.
On July 27, 2005, former Miami city commissioner Arthur Teele walked into the main lobby of the Herald's headquarters and phoned Herald columnist Jim DeFede (one of several telephone conversations that the two had had during the day) to say that he had a package for DeFede. He then asked a security officer to tell his (Teele's) wife Stephanie that he loved her, before pulling out a gun and committing suicide. This happened the day the Miami New Times, a weekly newspaper, published salacious details of Teele's alleged affairs, including allegations that he had had sex and used cocaine with a transsexual prostitute.
The day before committing suicide, Teele had had another telephone conversation with DeFede, who recorded this call without Teele's knowledge, which was illegal under Florida law. DeFede admitted to the Herald's management that he had taped the call. Although the paper used quotes from the tape in its coverage, DeFede was fired the next day for violating the paper's code of ethics, and he was likely guilty of a felony.
Many journalists and readers of the Herald disagreed with the decision to fire rather than suspend DeFede, arguing that it had been made in haste and that the punishment was disproportionate to the offense. 528 journalists, including about 200 current and former Herald staffers, called on the Herald to reinstate DeFede, but the paper's management refused to back down. The state attorney's office later declined to file charges against the columnist, holding that the potential violation was "without a (living) victim or a complainant".
On September 8, 2006, the Miami Herald's president Jesús Díaz, Jr. fired three journalists because they had allegedly been paid by the United States government to work for anti-Cuba propaganda TV and radio channels. The three were Pablo Alfonso, Wilfredo Cancio Isla and Olga Connor. Less than a month later, responding to pressure from the Cuban community in Miami, Díaz resigned after reinstating the fired journalists. Nevertheless, he continues to claim that such payments, especially if made from organs of the state, violate the principles of journalistic independence. At least seven other journalists who do not work at the Herald, namely Miguel Cossio, Carlos Alberto Montaner, Juan Manuel Cao, Ariel Remos, Omar Claro, Helen Aguirre Ferre, Paul Crespo, and Ninoska Perez-Castellón, were also paid for programs on Radio Martí or TV Martí, both financed by the government of the United States through the Broadcasting Board of Governors, receiving a total of between $15,000 and $175,000 USD since 2001.
In May 2011, the paper announced it had sold 14 acres (5.7 ha) of Biscayne Bayfront land surrounding its headquarters in the Omni district of Downtown Miami for $236 million, to a Malaysian resort developer, Genting Malaysia Berhad. McClatchy announced that the Herald and El Nuevo Herald would be moving to another location by 2013. In May 2013, the paper moved to a new building in suburban Doral. The old building was demolished in 2014.
The Miami Herald sponsors several community involvement projects, such as those detailed below.
The Wish Book program lets community members who are suffering from hardships ask for help from the paper's readers. Wishes have included asking for donations to buy medical equipment for a sick child, help with renovations to make a home wheelchair-accessible, monetary donations to an impoverished family dealing with cancer treatments, and help to an elderly resident wanting to learn how to use a computer. Readers may donate to specific causes or to the program at large.
The Herald also co-sponsors spelling bees and athletic awards in South Florida.
The Miami Herald Silver Knight Awards is a highly regarded student awards programs. The purpose of this Awards program is to recognize outstanding individuals & leaders who have maintained good grades and have applied their knowledge and talents to contribute service to their schools and communities. The Silver Knight Awards program was instituted at The Miami Herald in 1959 by John S. Knight, past publisher of The Miami Herald, founder and editor emeritus of Knight-Ridder Newspapers and 1968 Pulitzer Prize winner.
Schools nominate representatives for each category. A Miami Herald appointed judge paneled interview process in each category, only one Silver Knight Award is granted in each county Broward & Dade every year. These awards have been given in Miami-Dade County, Florida since 1959 and in Broward County, Florida since 1984. The televised award ceremonies are given in each county.
This nomination program is only open to seniors with a minimum 3.2 GPA (unweighted) in public, private, and parochial schools in 15 categories: Art, Athletics, Business, Digital & Interactive, Drama, English & Literature, General Scholarship, Journalism, Mathematics, Music & Dance, Science, Social Science, Speech, Vocational-Technical, and World Languages. Each school may only nominate one student per category.
Silver Knights receive $2,000, a Silver Knight statue and a medallion presented by American Airlines. The three Honorable Mentions are presented $500 and an engraved plaque. The cash awards are made possible in part by the support of the Blank Family Foundation.
Miami Herald Media Company, which owns the Miami Herald and El Nuevo Herald, is headquartered in Doral, Florida. It is located in a two‑story, 160,000-square-foot (15,000 m2) building that had been the U.S. Southern Command center. The newspaper uses 110,000 square feet (10,000 m2) of space for office purposes. In 2013 there were 650 people working there. The newspaper had purchased land adjacent to the headquarters to build the 119,000-square-foot (11,100 m2) printing plant.
The previous headquarters, One Herald Plaza, were located on a 14-acre (5.7 ha) plot in Biscayne Bay, Miami. This facility opened in March 1963. In 2011 the Genting Group, a Malaysian company, offered to pay the Miami Herald Media Company $236 million for the current headquarters property. The company began scouting for a new headquarters location after finalizing the sale. The then president and publisher of the media company, David Landsberg, stated that it was not necessary at that point to be located in the city center, and remaining there would be too expensive. The newspaper moved to its current Doral headquarters in May 2013. On April 28, 2014, demolition began on the building on Biscayne Bay between the MacArthur and Venetian causeways.