The Miami Herald appears to be encouraging people to steal, says the paper’s ombudsman, Edward Schumacher-Matos. Last week, Herald reporter Elaine Pasekoff detailed how she traveled to New York City’s Chinatown and was taken by surreptitious guides into three secret showrooms where she bought counterfeit handbags. “With barely a haggle at Stop No. 3, my purchases are tucked inside yet another green-black garbage bag,” she wrote. Pasekoff said “‘the adventure cost me $215: $195 on six purses, which, if authentic, would have been $3,040 retail, plus $20 for a cab.”
Schumacher-Matos said the counterfeit handbags are illegal and possibly immoral. The counterfeit trade feeds Asian mafias, steals the business of legitimate manufacturers, avoids millions of dollars in taxes, and is conducted without any controls over child labor or use of banned chemical products. “While law-enforcement targets manufacturers and sellers of counterfeits, casual buyers are unlikely to be busted,” said Pasekoff. Said one reader: “Why in the world would a newspaper want an article written that CONDONES buying illegal merchandise and supporting ILLEGAL business practices. Such horrible journalism, you should be ashamed for publishing this.” The editor now wishes “the story would have had a different tone, perhaps having the reporter discuss her own misgivings,” and that the Herald should not have provided buying tips.