Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Reporters display abysmal ignorance of their N.J. beats

The window of a Syrian wedding store in South Paterson, a bustling district of Christian- and Muslim-owned businesses along Main Street in Paterson that draws shoppers from hundreds of miles around, below.


Nine long days after Governor Christie blasted President Obama's plan to accept Syrian refugees -- even orphans -- The Record's newsroom finally moved into action.

An assignment editor in Woodland Park shook the sleep out of her eyes on Tuesday, and told a reporter to interview merchants who have been prospering for decades in the next town -- Syrians who condemn ISIS (A-1).

"Syrians are business people. They have nothing to do with bombs," Paterson bakery owner Mohamed Souda, a Syrian immigrant, told Staff Writer Hannan Adely.

"Whoever goes against refugees, those people are absolutely wrong."

Why did it take so long after Christie's hate mongering for an editor to assign Adely to this important story?

South Paterson

Gathering reaction in South Paterson, an economic bedrock of Silk City for many decades, should have been the first story the editors assigned after the Paris attacks and the backlash from Christie and other mean-spirited Republicans.

Of course, local assignment editors like Deirdre Sykes, Dan Sforza and Tim Nostrand have been at their jobs for decades, and their ignorance, laziness and general incompetence define news gathering at The Record.

And what can you say for reporters like Adely who know their beat, yet wait for a moron like Sforza to tell them what story to report and write.

All of them work under the direction of Editor Martin Gottlieb, an arrogant Manhattanite whose international credentials should have disqualified him from the job of running the newsroom of a local daily paper.

Syrian Jews

Even today's story on South Paterson and Syrians in New Jersey is deeply flawed, because their is no mention of the thousands of Syrian Jews who live in the state and who are united with Christians and Muslim by their love of Syrian food.

This Syrian Jew has shopped for decades at Fattal's, Nouri's and other stores in South Paterson, and I have met many of the law-abiding Syrian Christians and Muslims who run bakeries, restaurants and other businesses there.

Another building was under construction on Main Street in Paterson's South Paterson Commercial District in September.

Traffic bottlenecks

Staff Writer John Cichowski has been boring readers to tears with the Road Warrior column he's been writing for more than 12 years, not to mention the hundreds, if not thousands, of errors he has made.

Could today's so-called commuting column be the first to actually acknowledge that North Jersey has some of the worst traffic bottlenecks in America, including the Lincoln Tunnel (L-1)?

Cichowski's head must have been stuck up his enormous asshole for all the years North Jersey drivers have been mired in daily traffic nightmares, whether at the Hudson River crossings or on narrow, antiquated local streets.

A transportation reporter like Cichowski shouldn't need a survey on traffic bottlenecks to tell him there is not enough mass transit in Christie's New Jersey to take drivers off of the road.

And the hundreds of millions of dollars in lost productivity, waste of gasoline and aggravated air pollution isn't news to his readers.

The only "debate" over raising the gasoline tax to finance road and bridge repairs, and improve mass transit -- the way it has been done for decades -- is the one Cichowski and other burned-out reporters and editors  manufacturer to get people to read their trashy, irresponsible journalism.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Editors give us a rare front page with plenty of local news

At Drago Shoe Repair on the upper level of the Port Authority Bus Terminal in midtown Manhattan, a shoe shine costs $5, and a tip of less than $5 will get you a lot of attitude from the man who does your shoes.


The Record's belated recognition of decades-old property tax inequity in Hackensack, Englewood and other North Jersey communities with non-profit hospitals is front and center today.

Two other local stories appear on Page 1, including one on a family of seven Syrian refugees moving into a Paterson apartment next week with the help of an interfaith group, this despite hate mongers like Governor Christie (A-1).

For Editor Martin Gottlieb, a onetime globetrotter at The New York Times, today's front page is rare acknowledgement that he is now running a local daily paper based in Woodland Park.

Ailing city

Hackensack University Medical Center's $128.7 million in untaxed property has been an issue for city homeowners who have been paying a disproportionate share for years.

Yet, as the hospital continued to expand in Hackensack, The Record ignored the controversy until "a precedent-setting Tax Court decision and recent settlement ... between Morristown and non-profit Morristown Medical Center."

Morristown settled its case for $15.5 million, but HUMC got off easy -- a settlement of tax appeals that will bring Hackensack only $5.1 million over the next three years (A-1 and A-6).

And pleas from residents for the hospital to make in-kind contributions to the city have been largely ignored by Mayor John Labrosse, a hospital employee, and other members of the City Council.

Trump and 9/11

An editorial criticizing GOP presidential hopeful Donald Trump shows how little the editors know about the Syrian community in Paterson, which boasts a bustling Middle Eastern district with restaurants, bakeries and other businesses (A-10).

"There have been various reports, over the years and even now, that people were dancing in South Paterson, home to one of the largest Arab and Muslim populations in the region, during and after the attacks of 9/11," the editorial reports.

But the Syrians who first settled in Paterson in the late 19th century to work in the city's silk mills were Christian, not Muslim, and the community, which has spread to other towns in Passaic County, remains predominantly Christian, with no love for their Muslim persecutors.

A news story on Trump's claims also says Paterson had "a large Muslim population" on 9/11 (L-1).

Second look

A Nov. 14 editorial, the day after the Paris attacks, 
contained an embarrassing error on the date of 9/11 that wasn't corrected on A-2 until four days later.

"In this country, we recall all too well that day in September 2011, and the enormity of an incident in which 3,000 lives were lost in a matter of minutes ...," the editorial said.

Of course, 9/11 took place in 2001, not 2011, but the error was never fixed in the North version of the editorial I looked at today.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Editors ignore wreck left by Christie, our homegrown terror

Radio City Music Hall on Sixth Avenue in Manhattan. Since the Paris attacks, The Record and other news media haven't explored why New York City and North Jersey have been safe from terrorism since 9/11 or whether Syrian refugees already living here have been anything but law abiding.


The front page of The Record's Sunday edition is filled with news of global terrorism, Syrian refugees and New Jersey's own terror, Governor Christie.

But Editor Martin Gottlieb and Columnist Charles Stile still are trying mightily not to alarm readers with daily reports of the nightmare the GOP bully has left behind as he pursues his White House dreams.

Stile's boring political column today focuses on the distant future, the 2017 gubernatorial election (A-1).

Readers might be confused by another Paris-related story, today's column by Travel Editor Jill Schensul on her indecision over flying there for her annual vacation (T-1).

After all, she arrived there on Wednesday, and has already described the changes in the city she calls a second home in a Page 1 column on Friday and again in today's paper (A-6).

The attack on a hotel in Mali still has not prompted the news media to explore France's colonial rule in West Africa, Algeria, Syria and other countries as the possible root of today's terrorism (A-1).

Local schools

Englewood's new superintendent is telling parents whose children attend minority schools to eat cake (L-1).

That's the only conclusion readers can draw from an interview with schools chief Robert Kravitz, a former cake and dessert executive, who doesn't mention the challenge of elementary and middle schools filled almost completely with minority students.

Staff Writer Kim Lueddeke mentions poor test scores, limited English proficiency and other problems, but says nothing about whether Kravitz is hoping to desegregate those schools, as his predecessors did at Dwight Morrow High School.  

Other stories on schools in Edgewater and Wayne have Hackensack readers wondering when Assignment Editors Deirdre Sykes and Dan Sforza are going to get off their asses, and assign a reporter to look at all of the problems in Bergen County's biggest school district.

They include high salaries for administrators and thefts of computers, two of which were allegedly traced to the home of teacher, who has never been charged.

Seats for homeless

Road Warrior John Cichowski, the so-called commuting columnist, continues to ignore the lack of rush-hour seats on NJ Transit buses and trains.

Today, he goes on and on about the cat-and-mouse game between NJ Transit cops and the homeless using seats at Newark Penn Station and other rail hubs.

At a total loss on how to lure readers who long ago became bored with Cichowski, the veteran reporter compares a homeless man nervous about a cop kicking him out of a train station to "a driver parked overtime at a meter" (L-1).

Crazy Kelly

Columnist Mike Kelly already showed readers what a wimp he is on Saturday, when his Page 1 column was completely devoid of criticism or condemnation of anti-Muslim rhetoric in the wake of the Paris attacks.

Today, the best he can manage is to label Christie a "crazy uncle" for saying he would not even allow Syrian orphans under the age of 5 to enter the United States (O-1).

Who is crazy? I'm betting it's Kelly, a burned-out columnist who has been pushing around words and desperately filling space for more than 20 years.

He has bad company in Cichowski and Stile. 

What can be said for a daily newspaper that gives precious space to so many stale journalists, and doesn't foster younger, more courageous voices?

See the Christie cartoon by Margulies on O-2.

Tipping guide?

Restaurant Reviewer Elisa Ung's Better Living column on tipping today ignores a question on every restaurant customer's mind (BL-1).

Is 15% still considered the standard tip or should we be adding 18% or 20% to the pre-tax total as a matter of routine?

And when will Ung or any other reporter explain how wealthy restaurant owners managed to get regulators to go along with a system of extremely low hourly pay for their staffs and tips from customers to make up the difference?

If something goes wrong in the kitchen or the owner misrepresents the food he serves, the only recourse customers have is to stiff the server.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Cowardly columnist doesn't criticize anti-Muslim rhetoric

First Reformed Church on Court Street in Hackensack is said to be the second oldest church building in New Jersey. Gen. George Washington attended the funeral of Gen. Enoch Poor, who is buried in the church cemetery.


What's the point of giving an opinion column to a veteran reporter who doesn't seem to have an opinion about anything?

That's the question on readers' minds today after plowing through thousands of words from Columnist Mike Kelly of The Record on anti-Muslim rhetoric in the wake of the terrorism in Paris (A-1). 

Ground Zero

For some reason, Kelly doesn't mention a similar column he wrote in June 2010, when he covered a protest against a plan to build a mosque and Islamic cultural center two blocks from Ground Zero in lower Manhattan.

Then, he witnessed and reported "a portion of the crowd menacingly surrounded two Egyptian men who were speaking Arabic and were thought to be Muslims."

"'Go home,' several shouted. 'Get out,' others shouted," Kelly reported before telling readers the men were not Muslims, but Coptic Christians working for a Christian satellite TV station.

They had "come to protest the mosque," he added, noting two police officers had to pull the men to safety.


Other media were quick to pick up Kelly's account, complete with quotes, but unlike the Record columnist, they also condemned the protesters in no uncertain terms. noted the demonstration was "attended by various wingnuts, racists, riled-up nativists and terrified fools."

Conor Friedersdorf of The said:

"Of course, this would be reprehensible even if the men turned out to be Muslims.... 

"The larger objection to building a mosque a few blocks from Ground Zero is irrational and incompatible with core American values: freedom of religion, freedom of assembly and the right to pursue happiness."

Strong headline

Today, the Page 1 headline over Kelly's column contains the strongest language on anti-Muslim and anti-refugee comments from Governor Christie and other contenders for the GOP presidential nomination:

"Tone on Muslims takes a dark turn"

In the text, "harsh rhetoric" and "harsh tone" are the best the weak columnist himself can manage.

Anything stronger is put in the mouths of Democratic presidential candidates and others (A-6) -- a sleight of hand the cowardly Kelly employs frequently.