Thursday, November 12, 2009

Taking Bergen out of The Bergen Record

Seal of Passaic County, New JerseyImage via Wikipedia

The Record today is another edition with too much Passaic County news for this Hackensack resident, especially from a paper that is still known in many circles as The Bergen Record.

The biggest element on Page 1 reports that on Dec. 1, Passaic County officials will become the first in New Jersey to use a $3 surcharge on mortgage, deed and foreclosure actions to provide housing for the homeless. I still have not seen a story in the former Hackensack daily about the completion of a new homeless shelter only a few blocks from the paper's old headquarters.

In the Local section, there is more Passaic County news: five stories on Pages L-1, L-2 and L-3. A story about a jewelry heist in Englewood leads the section, but never explains why the store was closed around 12:30 in the afternoon on Wednesday. Did the owner go to lunch? That would be an expensive lunch. For Hackensack news, we have the opening of a health center for the indigent by the medical writer, Lindy Washburn.

Better Living continues the boycott of food news on Thursdays, despite the paper's pledge to provide such coverage "every day."

My critics say I complain too much and do not give The Record "props when deserved." The problem is that even when the paper does something right, it could have been done so much better. It seems that the incompetent editors are totally submissive to Publisher Stephen A. Borg, whose "good-enough" philosophy has dumbed down the paper and destroyed its reputation as an aggressive local news and advertising presence.

It is poorly researched, poorly written and poorly edited, and many reporters can't even seem to spell people's names correctly or get the correct name, as can be seen by the correction on A-2 today.

And how can anyone minimize the virtual abandonment of Hackensack -- where The Record was founded in 1895 and where it prospered for more than 110 years -- by moving printing of the paper and most of the editorial staff to other counties? Hackensack is now out of sight and out of mind.

The wealthy Borgs apparently have never informed readers or advertisers about the moves and continue to perpetuate a myth by stating on Page A-2 every day that The Record is "published daily by [the Borg family's] North Jersey Media Group at 150 River St., Hackensack, N.J." By the way, NJMG is listed as the 8th-largest family business in the state -- with 1,231 employees -- by

We can only  imagine the economic impact on struggling Main Street merchants after hundreds of press people, reporters, editors and so forth decamped, so the Borgs can try to make a killing on selling the landmark River Street building and its many surrounding acres.

In place of local news coverage, we're given Stephen Borg's marketing slogans, such as the one under the masthead every day: "The trusted local source."  Indeed, The Record in so many ways has repudiated its former slogan: "Friend of the people it serves."

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