Sunday, November 29, 2009

Another nothing-special Sunday

Fort Lee Museum, Fort Lee, NJ

The Sunday edition of The Record once was so special, it was actually called The Sunday Record, and it was filled with longer stories about municipal government in Bergen County and the rest of North Jersey. Now, it's just The Record, indistinguishable in so many ways from the daily paper, which is doing its best to ignore local news.

When I saw Mike Kelly's byline on the front page today, I thought, at least we'll be spared another one of his boring columns on the Opinion front, but I was wrong. When I was a news copy editor at The Record, we fought over the stories of some reporters, but as deadline loomed, we had to be ordered to edit Kelly's stuff.

Kelly is the lead reporter on a Page 1 "investigation" into an ultra-right-wing radio talk show host from North Bergen who fancies himself a patriot for working with the FBI, but who is facing charges of threatening to kill federal judges. Did anyone actually read that to the end? Next to that story is another in a series that portrays Paterson as the murder capital of North Jersey.

The former Hackensack daily has also spent thousands of hours on stories about Paterson's drug and prostitution problems. I remember walking by a Record newspaper box in Hackensack during the prostitution series and seeing this sensational poster on it, worthy of a trashy tabloid.
 You'll notice there was no mention of Paterson, lest Bergen readers yawn.

Officials are getting increasingly shrill about the state's financial problems, but the paper continues to downplay them by shoving the stories inside. Today, there is a Star-Ledger story on A-5 talking about possible, severe cuts in Paterson, New Brunswick and Hope Township, strangling all hope of readers in Hackensack, Teaneck, Englewood and other Bergen towns that they'll ever learn what's in store for them and their taxes.

If you turn to the Local section, most of it seems devoted to more lavish development proposals for that parcel of land  near the GWB in Fort Lee that has been vacant for nearly four decades. Maybe the town's stupid officials and the paper's lazy, incompetent editors will finally just back turning this eyesore into a great park, and allow Merry Firschein, the Fort Lee reporter, to explore the simmering conflicts between the longtime Japanese residents and more recent Korean arrivals.

The paper wastes so much newsprint on this vacant land because the other local reporters wrote no stories for the Sunday paper. Hackensack? The Record of Woodland Park says to the city where it was founded in 1895 -- for yet another day -- Screw you!

In Better Living, a lavish advertisement for mogul Richard Branson's resort and restaurant in Somerset County is disguised as the Sunday column of Restaurant Reviewer Elisa Ung, who continues to ignore important dining issues closer to home.
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