Monday, November 2, 2009

The photogenic front page

Map of West Milford Township in Passaic County.Image via Wikipedia

The Record today is an example of how feature news with a good photo trumps news of vital importance to readers in North Jersey.

On Page 1, the main element is a story and photo about a West Milford woman who will donate her home, a business and land to the township to end a decades-long search for a site to expand or replace the community library. Isn't that nice? How sweet. OK. The township is really far away from Bergen County, and hasn't it fought for decades against Newark's attempts to build affordable housing on city-owned watershed land? Isn't that racism?

So where is the real news? On the front of the Local section, Staff Writer Ashley Kindergan reports weak ethical rules in many towns allow pay-to-play and nepotism to flourish. This story has a nice graphic, but not nice enough, I guess, for Page 1. The Record has long defended home rule, which, many observers believe, fosters corruption and keeps property taxes high. Did that have something to do with placement of the Kindergan story?

Want more New Jersey news? Unfortunately, the A-section has lots of stories, but they are from Texas, Maine, California, Cleveland, Arizona, Seattle, Baghdad, Jerusalem and so forth.

Better Living has the usual food coverage in a Monday paper -- a single vegetarian recipe -- but under Health on F-8, there is more: a Washington Post story about fish that are not only caught sustainably but are also rich "in long-chain omega-3 fatty acids," a key in reducing the risk of heart disease.Pole-caught albacore tuna is listed, but the rankings by the "influential" Monterey Bay Aquarium don't take this tuna's high mercury content into account. So the headline isn't really accurate: "Good for the oceans and good for you." The story probably could have used a subhead: "Oh, but not the albacore tuna."

This is one of the dangers of running a lot of stories supplied by outside sources, including the Washington Post, especially when, like The Record, your food and copy editors know little about what is healthy and what is not.
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