Friday, December 11, 2009

'What's all this crap?'

Seal of Passaic County, New JerseyImage via Wikipedia

After nearly 18 months of just subscribing to and reading The Record and noting its sudden decline in quality, I've given up expecting anything special. So when my wife went out to the driveway and returned with a heavy plastic bag today, I muttered, "What's all this shit?"

At least the front page carried three hard-news stories, but there were lots of advertising inserts, a special advertising section and other junk to recycle. Page A-2 carried three corrections of  staff-written stories. Thursday's correction of a Wal-Mart story placed North Bergen in its correct county, Hudson.

Were all the news copy editors out to lunch? How about the slots, who supervise and check the work of the copy editors?

Is it enough to run wire service stories without editing them intelligently? The Page A-18 story today on invasive Asian carp ignores the logical question: Why aren't they caught and eaten, especially in view of all the demand on food pantries these days? Or are the Great Lakes so polluted that they render this tasty fish inedible?

On the front of the Local section, Road Warrior John Cichowski squanders yet another column, this one about Route 80 construction delays for eastbound motorists who e-mailed him.

But he is probably also responding to the bitching and moaning from colleagues in the Woodland Park newsroom who now face delays of up to an hour to reach their Bergen County homes, in keeping with the upsurge in coverage of Passaic County traffic woes after the paper abandoned  Hackensack this year. Indeed, reporter Monsy Alvarado, who is supposed to cover Hackensack,  has completely ignored the many recent street closings that have played havoc with Main Street traffic, especially when schools let out.

Also in the Local section for a change are two stories each about Hackensack and Englewood, but strangely, all four stories involve current or former municipal employees -- a favorite subject of  the local reporters, who do their best to avoid talking to residents and reporting on quality of life issues.

In Better Living, it's puzzling to see a review of Hacienda in Paterson, a restaurant  I wrote about several years ago, because four people could eat there for $50, including tax and tip. This Mexican restaurant gets only two stars and isn't the kind of place you'd expect to see so-called fine-dining reviewer Elisa Ung.

The restaurant health inspections column again is incomplete. The paper seems unconcerned that some towns, including Wyckoff, are apparently withholding fines and ratings.

The Record of Woodland Park, 12/10/09

Does anyone know why the paper insists on running a column by Christie Whitman after it has been shown time and again how dishonestly the former governor deals with her own serious missteps in office. A letter to the editor today notes: "It was her own administration that played shell games and helped put us and our grandchildren into the deep debt we're in now."

Except for police news and a sentencing, you'll find no coverage of development, education or quality of life in Hackensack, Englewood or Teaneck, the three most diverse communities in Bergen County.

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