If you live in Hackensack or many other towns in Bergen County, you stopped long ago relying on The Record for municipal news. In the more than two years since I moved to River City, which was the onetime local newspaper's home for more than 110 years, I can't recall seeing a story about what the City Council did the night before.
You just have to drive by the paper's landmark building at 150 River St. and count the relatively few cars in the sprawling parking lot to realize The Record has virtually abandoned the city, moving printing and staff as far as 30 miles away. The consolation prize for local news hounds is the copy of a low-quality weekly called the Hackensack Chronicle that is delivered with the daily paper on Fridays. (The Chronicle is also owned by the powerful North Jersey Media Group.)
In The Record's Local news section today, I count four stories from Paterson, two from Wayne and one each from Kinnelon, Clifton, Morris County and Montclair (total of 10 stories). That's twice the number of Bergen stories in the paper that missed landing in my Hackensack driveway.
In Better Living, food coverage is a 15-minute recipe from the Miami Herald, a list of cooking classes and a highly promotional, staff-written story about a new cookbook by a chef from Cleveland.
Does anyone pay $109 to learn how to cook Thai food? For that money, a family of three (two adults and a child) could have two great meals at Wondee's, the best Thai place in Hackensack. The recipe, unlike many the paper runs, looks like you might just be able to prepare the meal in about 15 minutes.
But of what value to readers is the story about the chef's book? This story, written by restaurant reviewer Elisa Ung, is just another in a series of gushing pieces about so-called celebrity chefs. Recall the ringing endorsement Ung gave Bobby Flay (photo top) when he opened a hamburger restaurant in Paramus -- without mentioning that the nail-biting Flay put profits before his customers' well-being by settling for beef raised with antibiotics, growth hormones and animal by-products.
It's no wonder Eric Levin, senior editor of New Jersey Monthly magazine, has called The Record's food coverage "stupid."