Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Hackensack news drought ends

Evening on the Hackensack River

Lo and behold. After a 35-day drought, a story about Hackensack appears today in the Local section of The Record, which was founded there in 1895 and prospered for more than 110 years before abandoning the city for bucolic Woodland Park.

As stories go, this one isn't much -- only a sidebar to a larger piece about greater demand at food pantries, a phenomenon the paper has reported on a few times a year for more than a decade. Hackensack reporter Monsy Alvarado emerges out of her cocoon briefly to tell us about a food drive by police, just about the only city agency she wrote about before the latest dry spell (occasional police and fire news doesn't count).

Another thing I noticed about today's paper is a missing Marketplace column in Better Living, and that could mean the paper is reducing its already unfocused and inadequate food coverage.

The lack of Hackensack municipal coverage is startling for a newspaper that made its reputation on covering local news. Is Monsy even working in Hackensack? I drove through the parking lot of 150 River St., The Record's landmark building, about two weeks ago and counted maybe a dozen cars belonging to staffers, plus a bunch of unsold Toyotas from the dealer down the street.

I looked up the story that ran in The Record on Feb. 21, 2008, quoting North Jersey Media Group President Stephen A. Borg and Vice President and General Counsel Jennifer A. Borg, his sister, on the future of the 300,000-square-foot building.

Stephen Borg acknowledged printing of The Record and Herald News was moved to Rockaway Township in October 2006, about four months after he took over. He said the expected time frame to vacate the "home of The Record" was "two to three years," so the earliest date would have been this coming February. Borg added he preferred to stay in Bergen County. In fact, most of the staff vamoosed earlier this year, the bulk of them to Passaic and Morris counties.

Jennifer Borg was quoted in early 2008 as saying the company "wishes" to stay in Hackensack, "if possible." Really?

"We really want to do what's right for the city and what's right for the county," she added. "We're very mindful of having the city's interests at heart."

Really? Well, what really happened? NJMG moved the Borg siblings and its headquarters to Woodland Park and The Record moved its newsroom to the same Garret Mountain building, joining the Herald News. Malcolm A. "Mac" Borg was left behind to preside over a largely empty building. Really? Really.

Doesn't what was said and what was done widen the NJMG credibility gap even further?

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