Sunday, October 25, 2009

In defense of The Record's local news reporters

A number of people have come to the defense of local reporters Monsy Alvarado and Giovanna Fabiano, criticized in previous posts for not covering their towns, saying blame rests fully on the incompetent editors they work for. (See posts, "Message to the Englewood reporter" and "Oh, say, can you see Hackensack?"

I can dig that. The Record's newsroom today is nothing like the newsrooms I came up in as a reporter in Hartford, Elizabeth, N.J., and even Hackensack, where I reported for the newspaper from 1979-89, covering a wide variety of beats.

I was encouraged to be independent and to challenge authority. I was discouraged from sitting around the newsroom and reading the paper. Legwork was a reporter's most important tool. Go and see for yourself. Talk to people, lots of people, especially residents, if you are a municipal reporter. And all of that helped calibrate my B.S. meter, so I didn't merely record and pass on to readers some of the nonsense that comes out of official and other mouths, including defense lawyers.

At the Hartford Courant in the early 1970s, then-City Editor Irving Kravsow would yell at me if I screwed up, but he let me pursue leads and write controversial stories that attacked the status quo.

The Record today works mightily to defend the status quo, inclduding a home-rule system of incredibly expensive duplication that keeps property taxes high. Editors are control freaks.

You'd think the newspaper would work to dismantle segregated schools in Englewood, launch a project
Teterboro AirportImage via Wikipedia
on the obesity epidemic and take on other stories of concern to readers, such as the huge impact Teterboro Airport has on residents' quality of life. But you'd be wrong.

One reader wrote about The Record's local news reporters: "To single them out is unfair. You don't know what they're being assigned to do (or not do). You don't know what they're forced into ....You cannot attack someone for taking orders."
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