Sunday, January 31, 2010

Bringing hope to readers?

PORT-AU-PRINCE, HAITI - JANUARY 21:  In this h...Image by Getty Images via Daylife

Haven't we read all of this before or seen it on TV? By covering most of  today's front page with an account by Staff Writer Joseph Ax and Staff Photographer Tariq Zehawi from Haiti,  is The Record of Woodland Park trying to tell us this is ground-breaking journalism?

Is there anything new here or is the paper merely trying to justify the expense of sending staffers there -- more than two weeks after the quake hit? One reason the photographer was sent there is that he speaks French. What qualifies the reporter, who has done only a so-so job covering Teaneck?
Haiti - search and rescueImage by IFRC via Flickr

The real story on the front page is Governor Christie's transition team urging him to curb the power of the Department of Environmental Protection, just as the other Christie -- then-Governor Whitman -- did during the recession of the early 1990s.

Whitman's move against the DEP finally awoke editors at The Record, including Deirdre Sykes, who had engineered wildly favorable coverage of the Whitman administration.

City of Jersey CityImage via Wikipedia
In Local, story datelines include Wayne (2), Pequannock, Paterson (2), Clifton and Jersey City (photo), but none for Hackensack, Teaneck, Englewood or many other important Bergen towns. Is this what marketing wizard and Publisher Stephen A. Borg calls "The Trusted Local Source"?

I guess he expected readers to believe him when he put that  motto under the masthead on Page 1, just as he expected employees to believe him when he told them at their first meeting in 2006, "I'm not in this for the money." It seems he doesn't consider the $3.65 million mortgage he got from his family's North Jersey Media Group to buy a Tenafly estate to be "money."

Editorial Page Editor Alfred P. Doblin is sartorially correct, but he has been far from editorially correct, failing to take the U.S. and other countries to task for the frustrating lack of coordination during the humanitarian crisis in Haiti. Nor has he compared the responses in Haiti and in New Orleans after Huricane Katrina.

Today, on Page O-2, editorials on the Meadowlands and holding the 9/11 trial in Manhattan fail to see the perfect solution:  

Urge the U.S. to build a huge courtroom to try the terrorists at Xanadu, jump-starting the economy of the Meadowlands with hundreds of millions of dollars in security spending. After the trial, shoppers can sit in on live hearings five times a day in a People's Court at the shopping-recreation complex.
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Saturday, January 30, 2010

Have we had enough?

A "tap tap" bus, used for public tra...Image via Wikipedia

The Record of Woodland Park has decided the best way to tell the story of the humanitarian crisis in Haiti is to give readers a detailed story on the experiences of almost every North Jersey doctor, nurse, clergyman and volunteer who goes there.

All over the front page today is the first account by Staff Writer Joseph Ax and Staff Photographer Tariq Zehawi, who accompanied a Saddle River doctor to the Dominican Republic. They are the first Record staffers sent there since the earthquake hit Jan. 12.

There is not much drama in Ax's story and that's because he decides to tell what happened chronologically, starting with the volunteers eating breakfast in their hotel lobby. How mundane can you get?

PORT-AU-PRINCE, HAITI - JANUARY 21: A nurse ad...Image by Getty Images via Daylife

Apparently, this blunder didn't raise any alarms among the lazy, incompetent editors in the Woodland Park newsroom, including Frank Scandale, Frank Burgos, Deirdre Sykes, Ax's assignment editor and the news copy editor, who had to reach deep into the story for the headline:
"Tip of the iceberg." 

It is rare for an editor to tell a reporter his or her approach is all wrong -- as in this case -- and to rewrite the story. In fact, reporters at the former Hackensack daily aren't expected to do any rewriting. No. A reporter sits down next to the assignment editor, who goes through the story and makes changes, or the editor makes those changes after the reporter goes home -- often leading to inaccuracies. The news copy editors are forbidden to make any substantial changes without the permission of  the reporter or assignment editor, some of whom were once mediocre reporters themselves.

PORT AU PRINCE, HAITI - JANUARY 21:  US Army n...Image by Getty Images via Daylife

Now you know why there are so many poorly reported, poorly written stories in the paper every day.

All Hackensack reporter Monsy Alvarado can muster today is a story on a Paramus man's Superior Court lawsuit against two city taverns. That's local news?

What is going on near the Bergen County Jail, where heavy equipment has been working for more than a week? Why doesn't the City Council look into all the allegations in lawsuits filed against Police Chief Ken Zisa, and perhaps suspend him until they are resolved? What do residents think of all the lawsuits? Have they lost confidence in the chief? What about the officers who didn't file suits, what do they have to say? Many residents will be dead by the time Alvarado and her assignment editor get around to those stories and others the paper ignores.

About the only good thing I can say about today's paper is that R.L. Rebach, one of the graphic artists, put together a detailed story under the headline, "Hunger in our neighborhood," reminding readers that neighbors are hurting, too, and telling them how they can help food pantries in North Jersey. The placement, on the front of the Better Living features section, seems odd, though.
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Friday, January 29, 2010

Is Chief Zisa the new target?

The Bergen County courthouse in Bergen County,...Image via Wikipedia

The Record of Woodland Park today reports the increasing number of lawsuits filed against Hackensack Police Chief Ken Zisa, whose family has long controlled the city. The headline on Page L-2, in the Local section, says: 15 officers now suing Zisa.

What is surprising is that head Assignment Editor Deirdre "Laughs A Lot" Sykes, with the support of Editor Frank Scandale and the Borg family, squandered nearly three years and hundreds of thousands of dollars in staff salaries on an investigation -- not of Zisa and his family -- but of Michael Mordaga, former chief of detectives for the Bergen County Prosecutor's Office who worked for Zisa at one time.
But it was clear from the single, weak story on Mordaga that ran in the Local section Dec. 16 that this so-called investigation was actually a vendetta, because the paper had to employ guilt by association as justification for printing anything at all. Indeed, the conflict alleged in the story ended in February 2007 -- two years and 10 months before.

The Zisa family's control of Hackensack is a subject The Record and Hackensack reporter Monsy Alvarado have done everything to avoid. Although Alvarado has reported individual suits against the chief and covered disciplinary hearings for officers, she has failed to make any connections to the big picture -- how the Zisa family rules the city. Meanwhile, she has largely ignored municipal, education, development and most other city news.

You know there is no local news in the paper today by all the wasted space. And you know some of the columnists are just treading water.

Precious space on the front of the Local section is given over to a "Newstracker" item on two districts looking for new superintendents. Did the saga on a hawk that flew into a store really deserve both a big photo and a story? Is that really environmental news?

Road Warrior John Cichowski has a detailed column on the annoyance of high-intensity discharge headlights, but never tells drivers to turn their eyes to the edge of the road on their side until the other car passes -- what drivers have been advised to do for decades to avoid headlight glare at night.

Restaurant Reviewer Bill Pitcher gives three stars to an expensive Korean butcher shop-cum-steakhouse in Fort Lee, without telling readers of Better Living whether the beef served there is naturally raised or pumped full of harmful antibiotics and growth hormones.

In the restaurant inspection list on Page 18 of Better Living, you'll again search in vain for ratings from Wyckoff.

Seventeen days after the earthquake hit Haiti, the newspaper finally is sending a reporter and photographer there with a Saddle River doctor. Let's hope the lazy, incompetent editors assign someone to cover Teaneck while Staff Writer Joseph Ax is away.
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More chest thumping from JerryD

An example of a breaking news intro graphicImage via Wikipedia

Here is the comment Jerry DeMarco wrote after my last post. The former assistant assignment editor and breaking news editor for The Record has always been full of bluster, but just how much of what he says can we really believe? And isn't he trying to gloss over incidents of sexual harassment of several women he supervised?

DeMarco has boasted of sleeping with women high and low. His pursuit and harassment of women were well-known to his supervisor, head Assignment Editor Deirdre "Laughs A Lot" Sykes, who sat next to him and saw on his desk the photo of the news clerk who was about half  of DeMarco's age when he dated her.

His activities also were well-known to Dina Sforza, corporate attorney for North Jersey Media Group, and Jennifer A. Borg, NJMG vice president and general counsel. Yet as far as I know, De Marco was never disciplined, despite an explicit company policy against sexual harassment.

These three women didn't even stand up for the young women who were being exploited by him.

Here is what DeMarco said:

Horniness requires a pulse, Veektor. And what's wrong with having attractive QUALIFIED women on your staff? People always accused me of deliberately hiring hot babes -- oh, like one who came in with a Pulitzer and others who've gone on to much greater accomplishments, like NG and LK and the dazzlingly talented AK (even though I brought in KM, PL and PP, among other dudes). Admittedly, the honey wasn't as sweet once MT left, although AH took up the slack before bolting, as well (I can say that, cause I dated both). Then again, neither was a reporter. Nor are MH and KM -- both of them gorgeous inside and out, and more skilled than you and me put together, bud. So what if MK -- my all-time crush and the sexiest woman in journalism not named Rachel Sklar -- happens to work there? Or the blinding SA? (Sorry, SB. Just statin' fact.) The joint has some good-looking men, as well. I'm sure. I think. No? OK, since I left the male hottie level has dropped considerably, but what did you expect? Losing OC on the distaff side was a blow -- although those of us lucky to be her FB friends get to share each and every smooch and cuddle as she and new hubby J.P. Gotrocks III trot the globe (Were he and Peter Sellers separated at birth?). In fact, unless there've been defections from Hooters, I don't think the sexual tension is anywhere near what it used to be -- at least not since skunk hair and Pearl White were caught canoodling on the Great Lawn. My guess is there are more clock blockers than heart stoppers. Which reminds me: Is K Five Cents still there?

Victor E. Sasson said...
To readers: Your assignment, if you wish to accept it, is identifying all the people here now named only with initials. Victor Sasson

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Thursday, January 28, 2010

The Record and Toyota

Have you noticed all the unsold Toyotas piling up in the parking lot at 150 River St. in Hackensack, former headquarters of the once-great daily newspaper? The imposing, brick building now echoes with the ghosts of all the 20- and 30-year employees of The Record who left during a reorganization ordered by the greedy Borg family to pave the way for the move to Woodland Park last year.

Toyota Prius (ZVW30)Image via Wikipedia
More unsold Toyotas, especially the ones involved in a major recall reported in today's paper, are likely to join the more than 100 vehicles I saw when I drove by -- then through the lot -- on Monday. Good news for tree-huggers: the 2010 gas-electric Prius hybrid (photo) isn't on the list of vehicles with sticking accelerators.

The story in the Business pages (L-9) didn't give the Borgs credit for the clever idea of renting out empty parking spaces to Hackensack Toyota to make up revenue lost from all the readers and advertisers in Hackensack and other towns who have noticed the shameful job the paper is doing in covering local news. There are still hundreds of spaces left, so maybe the Borgs could erect a big screen and open a drive-in. 

Grilled hot dogs

Malcolm A. Borg, chairman of North Jersey Media Group, and head Assignment Editor Deirdre "Laughs A Lot" Sykes could run the popcorn and candy concession, and Food Editor Bill Pitcher could hawk all the preservative-filled hot dogs, drug-filled hamburgers and sugary cakes and cookies he loves to write about. Borg is the only one who still has his office in the River Street building.

I'm sure residents of Hackensack and all the other towns affected by the tremendous noise from roof-skimming private jets were overjoyed to see a huge L-1 photo of  the planes parked at Teterborto Airport. That signals the lazy, incompetent editors aren't aware of how aggravating the aircraft are and that there is little local news in the Local section. (When is a reporter going to remove his head from you-know-where and look into what a huge impact the airport has on the quality of life in Bergen County?)

Looking for Hackensack news? Well, homeless people got free haircuts. Looking for Englewood news? Well, a doctor from there talks about his experiences  in Haiti. Looking for Teaneck news? Well, another doctor talks about his experiences there.

A correction and a clarification appear on A-2 today. I don't know if either involves a horny editor being distracted by one of the attractive, young female reporters in the Woodland Park newsroom, and staring down her shirt when he should be vetting her copy.
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Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Don't write yourself into the story

Mozzarella cheeseImage via Wikipedia

Do you think several readers might have gotten lost in Englewood yesterday and today, looking for Jerry's Gourmet & More, which was featured in the Better Living section on Tuesday? The reporter was so intent on making himself part of the story, he forgot to include the address and telephone number.

This was one of the most amateurish stories ever written by Rob Bieselin, a young reporter still struggling to master his craft. There is way too much first-person in this poorly written tale about the man who makes fresh mozzarella at the store. But it's what readers have come to expect from Bieselin, who was a mall clothing salesman before he became a Record news clerk. (I knew Rob when I was at The Record and he is a nice guy. But that's not enough, if you want to be a journalist.)

Maybe The Record was trying to make up for virtually ignoring Jerry's since it opened 18 years ago. Last year, it completely omitted the wildly popular Italian specialty store from a story on free food samples at markets, and Jerry's is one of the most generous in that regard.

When a huge street project in front of the store dragged on for months and months, and business at Jerry's dropped dramatically, then-Englewood reporter Maya Kremen couldn't even muster the energy to visit the place and write a story.

Jerry's Gourmet & More, 410 S. Dean St., Englewood; 
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Soft news is no news

New MTA Trains at George Washington BridgeImage by p_x_g via Flickr

The Record of Woodland Park has cranked up its elaborate publicity machine for Governor Christie. Today, it presents a flattering Page 1 account of the governor's plans for the Meadowlands by reporter John Brennan, master of schlock.

The story begins by saying Christie faces a "constellation" of problems. Wouldn't that be thousands of problems? Then, the reporter says, Christie intends to use "the same pugnacious style that marked his campaign." How much did the Governor's Office pay for that line?

This is the same reporter who wrote a long profile of Jayson Williams and downplayed the former athlete's problems with alcohol that led to the killing of his limo drive.

Today's Christie story doesn't even have a "peg," the event on which a lot of stories hang. No. This is a long, speculative piece that would be more appropriate for the Opinion section. There is no real news in the other front page stories today, including a second by Brennan.

How about a consolation prize in the Local section today? Sorry, residents of Teaneck, Hackensack, Englewood and many other important Bergen County towns, you won't find any education, municipal or development news about your town.

Englewood reporter Giovanna Fabiano jumps on manhole explosions in the shopping district, interviewing people as if it was a terrorist attack, and there is a color photo of  PSE&G employees standing around and doing nothing. No one was hurt. 

But the death of an Englewood woman who was run down in Union Township is treated as "filler," with no attempt to tell readers anything about a 28-year-old killed in the prime of her life while crossing the street and talking on her cellphone.

Last year, Stephen A. Borg, president of North Jersey Media Group, pledged during a symposium in Fair Lawn to continue "an editorial focus on downtowns." He added: "It's important that we continue to let people know about the depth and diversity of Bergen County."

Since he gave that speech in May, The Record has published three long stories about downtown Ridgewood, but none about Hackensack, Teaneck or Englewood -- three of the most diverse communities in the paper's circulation area.

Today's paper, like so many others before it, shows the Borgs are merely absentee landlords. More troubling, is whether Stephen Borg's speech was yet another attempt to deceive --  much like listing the paper's headquarters as 150 River St., Hackensack, on Page 2 every day, or telling staffers at his first meeting with them in 2006, "I'm not in this for the money"?

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Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Try another newspaper

Teaneck Municipal BuildingImage via Wikipedia

If you live in Hackensack, Teaneck or one of the other important Bergen County towns, you won't find any local news in The Record of Woodland Park today. Maybe you should start subscribing to a weekly.

Much of Page 1 is devoted to a "plume of contamination" in far off Pompton Lakes, the second day in a row the story has been on the front page.

In the Local section, police, fire, weather and Haitian relief news is all you'll see from a handful of towns. For yet another day, Hackensack residents lose out. Development news? Education news? Municipal news? Environmental news? Nada, zero, zilch.

You have Frank Scandale, Deirdre "Laughs A Lot" Sykes, Dan Sforza and all the other lazy, incompetent editors to thank for that.
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Monday, January 25, 2010

The sickos love Columnist Mike Kelly

If you read some of the online comments on the pathetic column by Jersey Mike Kelly in The Record of Woodland Park today, you realize what a sick readership he has. Click on the following link:
Rochelle Park gadfly

Wait until next year

Map of Woodland Park in Passaic County (shown ...Image via Wikipedia

Continuing its apparent boycott on news of Hackensack and many other important Bergen County towns, The Record of Woodland Park may be telling us to wait until next year. I guess the lazy, incompetent editors didn't make a New Year's resolution to do a better job of covering local news.

For the third day in a row, most of the front page today is devoted to the Jets football team and airhead reporter John Brennan, who squanders his trip to Indianapolis by turning in some of the most lackluster copy I've ever seen. The bottom of the front page goes to the poor schmucks who live in polluted Pompton Lakes (map), where DuPont, and town and state officials have been screwing around for more than 20 years on cleaning up groundwater contamination. Isn't home rule a great system?

You'll find lots of "filler" stories today, the kind the desperate editors have to run in the absence of real news, like the story on A-4 about three-wheel motorcycles in Los Angeles. The crisis in Haiti stays inside today, but do readers really need three stories on North Jersey doctors, a pastor and a nurse who went there?

There is good news for consumers in the Business pages, for a change, word that Governor Corzine signed a law before he left office allowing sellers' real estate agents to give rebates to buyers. I'm still waiting for a story on real estate agents who represent buyers and get paid by sellers.

Have you ever heard of anyone being jailed for not going to a deposition -- confidential testimony given under oath in a civil lawsuit before a trial? Of course not, but in a Page 1 promo and in the Local section, reporter Ashley Kindergan quotes a plaintiff saying he wants the Bergenfield mayor jailed. This is a non-story.

You have to wonder why head Assignment Editor Deirdre "Laughs A Lot" Sykes and the editor who supervise Kindergan, one of the best reporters on the local news staff, pushed this turkey for the front of the section. And what do you make of Columnist Jersey Mike Kelly's latest, pathetic effort?

Seal of Bergen County, New JerseyImage via Wikipedia

 Yes. Hackensack residents feel good about next year.
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Sunday, January 24, 2010

The amateur hour


One lavishly-illustrated Page 1 story today is nothing more than a series of strung-together quotes from Jets fans that was probably written a few days ago, before airhead reporter John Brennan left for Indianapolis. Two "filler" stories in the Local section -- one about bears, the other about changing the archaic freeholder title -- are promoted on the front page.

Do reporters at The Record of Woodland Park write more stories about bears and deer than about the people of Hackensaack, where the paper was founded in 1895? It seems likely they do, and I'm sure head Assignment Editor Deirdre "Laughs A Lot" Sykes promotes the hunting stories as "local news." You can just hear her honeyed, chuckling voice importuning the hapless layout editor about the "cute" photo of a bear she has in her bag of tricks.

Seal of Passaic County, New JerseyImage via Wikipedia
Meanwhile, you'll search in vain for news of Hackensack, Teaneck, Englewood and many other Bergen County towns, as the news-coverage focus shifted long ago to the west with the the move of the former Hackensack daily to Passaic County and printing of the paper to Morris County. More evidence of that is the entire half page devoted to the schools superintendent in Paterson. And the obituary of a Tenafly native who battled a brain tumor would have been a far better choice for the bottom of L-1 than a "Newstracker" item on the delay of a civil trial.

In Business,  shame on Your Money's Worth Columnist Kevin DeMarrais for equating his mysterious French traffic violation with red-light cameras being installed in North Jersey. DeMarrais joins Road Warrior Columnist John Cichowski in dissing the cameras, without acknowledging violators are sent a photo of their vehicle and license plate. DeMarrais wastes precious space on his own selfish interests, rather than asking state officials about the bureaucracy homeowners have to fight to get solar panels installed, a two-year-plus process.

Teterboro AirportImage via Wikipedia

And when will Business reporters stop writing such promotional stories? The owners of a charter-jet company at Teterboro Airport that caters to the rich are never even asked to address the tremendous noise they generate, impacting the quality of life for residents of Hackensack and other towns. The multimillionaire owner of the first Smashburger franchise in North Jersey is allowed to boast about the "quality of the meat" he serves without backing that up with details. The truth is his meat probably comes from cattle raised on antibiotics and growth hormones, and fed animal byproducts -- bits of dead animals -- to boost his bottom line.

In Better Living, readers are denied consumer-oriented stories about restaurants and getting our kids to eat healthy food, in favor of stories about the home lives of chefs and owners planning their second restaurants. It turns out the "culinary pros" really don't know anything more than you or I about kids' eating habits, and the restaurant owners column is pure promotion, one in a long series by Elisa Ung, who is supposed to speak for restaurant-goers.

NEWARK, NJ - JULY 27:  New Jersey governor Jon...Image by Getty Images via Daylife

In Opinion, tired Columnist Jersey Mike Kelly fires new salvos at Jon Corzine's single term as governor, but ignores how the state Legislature and the pay-to-play and home-rule systems blocked much of what he wanted to accomplish.

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Saturday, January 23, 2010

Avoiding the real stories

Englewood, NJImage by Here in Van Nuys via Flickr

The Record of Woodland Park today is another exercise in avoiding real stories while pandering to sports fans and giving more precious space to a publicity hungry rabbi who gives a bad name to me and other Orthodox Jews.

The desperate, incompetent editors often have no choice, because they stopped inspiring their reporters long ago. They keep their jobs, because the Borgs -- Malcolm, Stephen and Jennifer -- ignore the paper's precipitous decline while they pursue their selfish interests, including a wine bar in Englewood and stopping the expansion of a synagogue on the East Hill street where the elder Borg lives.

The Record sent a reporter and photographer to Indianapolis to cover Sunday's football game, but apparently they could find only one Jets fan and a few former North Jersey residents. But that didn't stop the paper from devoting most of the front page to this inanity. I hope reporter John Brennan will like Indiana so much, he won't come back.

I'm with Kathleen M. DuHaime of Westwood, whose letter to the editor appears today on Page A-11. She noted Page 1 coverage of the Jets victory Jan. 18 "struck a jarring note." She added:

"While the whole world's attention is focused on the disaster in Haiti and the deaths and suffering of thousands of people, The Record, once again, chooses to give precedence to a sports event. May I suggest you 'gotta believe' that world events of this magnitude are far more important than a football game."
 Although part of an inside page is devoted to the humanitarian crisis today, The Record appears to be slowly returning to the time when U.S. media simply ignored the Haitian people.

Naive Englewood reporter Giovanna Fabiano continues to turn her back on that city's segregated elementary and middle schools, its downtown traffic congestion and its Jamaican community, but she found time to be exploited by a publicity hungry rabbi, no doubt encouraged by head Assignment Editor Deirdre "Laughs A Lot" Sykes, who is desperate for local news. Fabiano's and Sykes' "bullshit meters" both need tune-ups. Where is Editor Frank Scandale, swimming with the fishes?

In August, Fabiano wrote seven stories about Englewood (photo) -- five of them about the rabbi's attempt to stop the Libyan leader from staying at his country's estate. Has the reporter ever asked the rabbi why -- 11 years ago -- he bought the Palisade Avenue mansion next door if he hates the Libyans so much? Not long after the news coverage, a flattering article about the rabbi's new book on Michael Jackson appeared in Better Living.

Maybe the rabbi, Shmuley Boteach, could switch mansions with the elder Borg, chairman of North Jersey Media Group. Then the rabbi could simply stroll down Walnut Street to the synagogue, and Borg and his wife could invite the Libyans over for dinner. That would end two "controversies" in one stroke.

In today's story, which runs on the front of the Local section with a big photo of the rabbi, the reporter seems to be trying to justify more coverage of this man's selfish quest to get rid of the Libyans by saying -- falsely -- that the East Hill estate has been "the center of controversy for decades." That's nonsense. She also gets the month wrong for the flap over Moammar Gadhafi coming to Englewood.

Sykes and Fabiano's assignment editor should be ashamed of  foisting this sham story on readers. Of course, when you have no real news from Hackensack, Englewood and many other Bergen County towns, you have to print any crap you can find.

That's something we have been seeing almost every day since The Record moved its headquarters and hundred of employees out of Hackensack last year, abandoning the city where it was founded in 1895 and where it prospered for more than 110 years.

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Friday, January 22, 2010

Bill Ervolino clams up

Daguerrotype of the south front of the White HouseImage via Wikipedia

Now, it appears unfunny humor columnist Bill Ervolino has removed all of his explanations and indulgent self-analysis from his North Jersey Media Group blog after he posted a picture of the White House dog Monday and asked readers who they wanted to see naked, Barack, Michelle, 12-year-old Malia Obama or Bo?

Ervolino took down the photo and readers' comments first, but downplayed his pandering to pedophiles. Then he posted a long explanation and detailed his health problems, all of which fell far short of an apology. Now, all of that is gone from the blog.

We have yet to hear anything from the Borg family, Editor Frank Scandale or Features Editor Barbara Jaeger. It's clear Ervolino needs a rest and since he ceased being funny ages ago, readers won't miss him at all.
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The numbers are all wrong

01934 These Numbers Are Everywhere

Reading The Record of Woodland Park today made me realize just how wrong all the numbers are. Not only do at least two stories contain confusing numbers, but it's clear the paper favors older white men as columnists over blacks, Hispanics and women.

It's right there on Page 1 -- three different totals for how much the North Arlington mayor diverted from his campaign fund. The lead paragraph says $28,000, the Fast facts box says $29,900 and the third paragraph says $28,200. Does anybody know which figure is correct?

Is there a deficit or surplus in the state budget? In a story on Page A-8, Governor Christie insists for a second day it's a deficit, which he revises to $1.3 billion. Corzine's treasurer says it's $1.1 billion, but that with budget cuts and other actions, there is actually a surplus of $496 million. Yet, the sub-headline misstates Corzine's stance as $1.2 billion, not $1.1 billion.

How many older male columnists does The Record need? Today, columns by Kevin DeMarrais, Harvy Lipman, Mike Kelley, John Cichowski and Peter Grad appear in the former Hackensack daily, which got rid of its only black and only Hispanic columnists, and one of its early female columnists. A Personal Finance column by veteran reporter Kathy Lynn appears today on the first Business page, making her the paper's third female columnist. Congratulations, Kathy. But when you count unfunny humor columnist Bill Ervolino, there are twice as many older males as females.

Did head Assignment Editor Deirdre "Laughs A Lot" Sykes ask Mike Kelly to go to Westwood and cover the arrival of a fallen Marine? Look at his lead paragraph. Does he get paid by the adjective? What tired prose. Mournful hum of bagpipes, gentle flapping of flags, indelible silence of residents. What is an "indelible silence"? He just pushes around words to create a mood. Westwood reporter Dena Yellin, who has less experience than Kelly, could have done a far better job. This is no laughing matter. Why do they keep him around? Why do they keep Sykes around?

The number of Hackensack and Englewood stories continues to be low (none today), despite the importance of those Bergen County cities. Teaneck reporter Joe Ax covers yet another hearing on that Queen Anne Road synagogue that was opened after an informal agreement with a township official. A brief on a North Bergen official omits any mention of why he quit, but the nature of the probe was laid out Wednesday in Cliffview

In Better Living, readers are again short-changed on restaurant health inspections. But Food Editor Bill Pitcher gives three stars to a French restaurant in Ridgewood, then puts on his Editor of Fat hat and provides two long recipes so you can make sugar-filled donuts at home.
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Thursday, January 21, 2010

Jerry DeMarco on Bill Ervolino

Malia Obama makes her way through the crowd at...Image via Wikipedia

Jerry DeMarco, whose own tenure at The Record wasn't without controversy, explores Bill Ervolino's decision to remove the perverted blog post about 12-year-old Malia Obama (photo). Find the link to CliffView below:

Jerry DeMarco on Bill Ervolino
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What is the editor's excuse now?

Looking at The Record of Woodland Park today, you have to wonder what excuse head Assignment Editor Deirdre "Laughs A Lot" Sykes offered the local news layout editor for the lack of Hackensack, Teaneck or Englewood news?

Ford do Brasil Ltda.
"We have this really great story about a new music school at Montclair State University and three terrific photos you can run as big as you like [in the Local section]," she likely said in the sweet voice she uses in the office. "And for the front, we have an update story about Ford getting ready to remove tainted soil in Ringwood, with a picture of a backhoe, a map and a data box on arsenic, so those two stories will really take up a lot of room."

I don't know if the long-suffering layout editor even asked if there was any Bergen County news besides four court stories about Park Ridge, a Cresskill CEO, the Ridgefield mayor, and  Garfield and Ho-Ho-Kus firms. Sykes could offer only two briefs, one about Bergen school districts, the other about a freeholder candidate from Franklin Lakes. She might have even wiggled out  of the chore of briefing the layout editor and ordered one of her lazy, incompetent minions, Richard Whitby and Dan Sforza, to do so.

But the layout editor probably knew better than to even ask, let alone complain, about the ongoing lack of news from the premier Bergen towns of Englewood, Teaneck or Hackensack, where the paper was founded in 1895.

NEWARK, NJ - JULY 27:  New Jersey governor Jon...Image by Getty Images via Daylife
The front page today has what you'd expect a day after Governor Christie spent his first full day in office -- stories about the budget deficit and executive orders he signed, and a story about Jon Corzine gifting some of his staffers with appointments to new jobs.

News of the humanitarian crisis in Haiti gets shoved inside to Page A-10 -- a little more than a week after the earthquake -- and Editorial Page Editor Alfred P. Doblin continues to ignore the shameful rescue and relief job by the U.S. and other countries. Maybe the fashion plate spent part of the day shopping for a new suit.

There was a time when The Record would have sent a reporter and photographer to Haiti, but that ended after Publisher Stephen A. Borg sucked out $3.65 million from the coffers of North Jersey Media Group to buy an estate in Tenafly. Now, reporters and photographers stay close to their Woodland Park headquarters. I don't know if his big sister, Vice President/General Counsel Jennifer A. Borg, also got a mortgage from NJMG.

I commend a story on A-19 today to Editors Sykes, Whitby, Sforza, Road Warrior Columnist John Cichowski -- who leaves the office only to go home -- and to all those young Bergen municipal reporters who "work from home" so often, they no longer know how to get to the towns they are supposed to be covering. The headline: "Sitting too long is dangerous, even deadly."
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More from the thumb-sucker

The Record of Woodland Park's really unfunny humor columnist Bill Ervolino has posted what looks like an apology for asking readers to imagine 12-year-old Malia Obama naked, and has removed the post from his blog. Here are excerpts:

"OK. I have deleted my “questionable” question about Bo and Malia. Hopefully, the world is a better place now and we can all take a deep breath and move on. Frankly, I hate to remove any comments, whether they’re positive or negative, but I can’t delete one (the post) without the other (your comments).

"I don’t offend you guys very often, but when I do, I try to apologize. It certainly wasn’t my intent to offend or even to suggest something inappropriate. I listed the names in my question as if it were some kind of dopey personality test. (Maybe TOO dopey, in this case.) I have a hard time thinking a question would put that kind of thought into anyone’s head if it wasn’t there already. But, not having kids myself, I sometimes fail to realize how parents feel about certain topics, especially if they have daughters."
Posted by Bill Ervolino on 01/20 at 02:19 PM

You can read more at the following link to his blog (the post headed: "Delete, delete"): Mea asshole

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Wednesday, January 20, 2010

'I'll proceed with caution'

WASHINGTON - APRIL 14:  U.S. President Barack ...

This is all The Record of Woodland Park's Bill Ervolino had to say in response to comments about his blog post Monday night on whether readers wanted to see 12-year-old Malia Obama naked:

FROM BILL: OK. well at least I know you’re all still out there. I doubt I inspired any pedophiles. Or pet-ophiles. But i’ll proceed with caution…
Posted by Bill Ervolino on 01/20 at 01:05 AM

Of course, I doubt his editor, Barbara Jaeger, will do what any so-called journalist should: Give him the heave-ho.

See earlier post, "Bill Ervolino is a disgrace"
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Our tax-cutter is finally here

Dawn Zimmer Voted Mayor of Hoboken, Chris Chri...

The Record of Woodland Park today is asking us to believe we finally have a governor who will cut property taxes, which are largely controlled by county and municipal governments. On Page 1 and two inside pages, the paper provides flattering coverage of Chris Christie, who couldn't stop using the magic word "change" during his inauguration yesterday.

I've lived in New Jersey for more than 30 years, and I cannot recall any governor who was able to lower  property taxes, now the highest in the nation. You've got to wonder how Christie is going to do it, especially in view of his vow to cut aid to municipalities. Are we to believe all these towns are suddenly going to merge services with their neighbors to save money and cut property taxes?

Of course, as the editorial on Page A-10 notes, Christie provided few details on how he would bring about the changes he promises. In the news coverage, I question how inaugural guests were served "Jersey blueberries" in January. Is this the first lie from the new administration?

On Page A-7, a grand total of 10 North Jersey residents -- one an actor from the "The Sopranos" -- are interviewed, and most give Christie the benefit of the doubt. Does this seem comprehensive?

Public Broadcasting ServiceImage via Wikipedia
But eight days after the quake hit, The Record still cannot muster any editorial outrage for the shameful performance of the U.S. and other wealthy nations in helping victims in Haiti. TV is doing a far better job of covering the disaster. Last night, a Dominican doctor across the road from the airport told a reporter for PBS he was running out of medicine and other supplies, and could not get any of the stuff he needs from the tons piling up on the tarmac.

On the front of the Local section, take a look at another ridiculous column, based on e-mails, from Road Warrior John Cichowski, who apparently only leaves the office to go home. Also on the front, in what country do people speak Urdu, the language of the Paramus convenience store owner being targeted by vandals? Is it in the story? Let's see, his name is Syad Ahmed. Could he be from .....?

Haiti relief efforts in North Jersey, court and crime news are all local readers in Hackensack, Teaneck and Englewood get today.

Englewood reporter Givoanna Fabiano gives us another story on the Acadamies@Englewood -- the attempt to integrate Dwight Morrow High School -- while continuing to ignore segregated elementary and middle schools. On Page L-3, you'll search in vain for the address of a pizzeria at the center of a lawsuit against Hackensack Police Chief Charles Zisa, as if this was a story about Chicago.

Hackensack readers will have to drive up and down River Street to see if they can find the building "controlled by the chief," and while they are it, they can wonder when The Record's Monsy Alvarado will report the status of luxury apartments that were under construction behind the old Hackensack Ford dealer or the town houses that were approved for a parcel near Route 80. But I was relieved to learn Greenwood Lake boat owners will start paying fees in 2011 to maintain water quality.

In the well-edited and well-proofed Better Living section, the address and telephone number of a tea parlor in Leonia was omitted.

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Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Bill Ervolino is a disgrace

President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle...Image via Wikipedia

One of the unfunniest people at The Record of Woodland Park is humor columnist Bill Ervolino, who has been trying our patience for years.

If you need any further evidence of his perverted sense of humor, click on the link to his so-called blog below. Under "Pressing question of the night," you'll find a photo of the White House dog and the following question:

"Who would you rather see nude: Barack, Michelle, Malia or Bo?"

I guess Ervolino includes Malia Obama, who is 12, in an appeal to all the child pornographers out there.

Thumb sucker Bill Ervolino -- unplugged
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