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Miami Herald reporters rose to the challenge of telling the "why" of the Surfside condo collapse

Within hours of the Surfside tragedy, a Miami Herald reporter was on the hunt
Within hours of the Surfside tragedy, a Miami Herald reporter was on the hunt 02:23

MIAMI – It was a major journalism challenge – telling the "why" of the Champlain Towers South collapse. Within hours of the tragedy, a Miami Herald reporter was on the hunt.

"I was at Surfside town hall trying to get records, history of Champlain Towers South."

Aaron Leibowitz is a member the Miami Herald's seven-person forensic team assigned to tackle the complex story.

Early on, the team got some major help.

"What the Herald did was actually hire an engineer from the University of Washington to assist our team," Leibowitz told CBS4 Reporter Hank Tester.

The result of the reporters' and engineer's work was the "House of Cards," a multiple newspaper and interactive video project that produced a detailed and easily understood written and video explanation of what happened the early morning of June 24, 2021.

"Everything we had gathered over six months went into trying to build this model," Leibowitz.

Old-fashioned journalism married to hi-tech data gathering plus an engineer's expertise went into the "House of Cards" package. It was an expense Herald management felt was critical.

Leibowitz praised the Herald management decision, saying, "The Herald does not have the resources it once did, that's the reality, but in this story, we saw how important it was to make that investment."

This collapse raised a ton of question about the safety of building on the coast. The hope is our reporting provides some of the answers.

The Miami Herald won a Pulitzer Prize for Breaking News Coverage of the condo collapse. The Herald's investigative team won numerous awards for "House of Cards."


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