Monday, October 18, 2010

Everyone drops the ball

Ramapo RiverImage by prefers salt marsh via Flickr
The Ramapo River is endangered by toxic dirt piles in Wayne, officials say.

The dominant story on Page 1 of The Record of Woodland Park today is a sad tale of business owners who have for more than a decade resisted efforts to clean up piles of toxic dirt near a river. But despite the involvement of half a dozen staff members, this takeout puts the focus on dirt, not people.

Let's start with the stupid headline:

Court orders fail
to move mounds

"Mounds" are inanimate objects, and I'm sure the judge didn't order them to do anything. Why isn't the focus on the owners of the business, and why are their names buried on the continuation page, as if all of this is some sort of bureaucratic snafu?

It's bad enough the reporter can't get the father and son involved in the business, Allan Rombough Sr. of Medham and Andrew Rombough, to comment. But was an effort made to contact their attorney for comment? And why doesn't the reporter address an obvious question: Why didn't the state or the town hire a contractor to remove the dirt years ago, during flusher times, and bill the business?

The Local news section is another laughable effort from head Assignment Editor Deirdre Sykes and her minions. It's a typical Monday section: A charity walk and an awareness-raising walk are written about at great length and played out front, because that's all the desperate editors have.

An overturned car is the gee-whiz, "Accident of the Day" photo element on L-1, and more non-profit news fills all of L-3.

Columnist Mike Kelly is really angry at the imam behind the Lower Manhattan mosque proposal, and continues his smear campaign against him on L-1 today. 

Kelly's language is uncharacteristically harsh for a reporter who treats just about everybody else with kid gloves, including his pal, convicted felon and former New York City Police Commissioner Bernie "The Crook" Kerik. Is this an anti-Muslim tirade?

Editor Francis Scandale got rid of the paper's only black, Hispanic and female news columnist, but kept Kelly the Mouse. Amazing.

Don't look for any Hackensack, Teaneck, Englewood news today.
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  1. You shouldn't knock the Record for covering all those charity walks. One of them drew a whole bunch of people and they'll all want to read about it, that's a bundle of sales. Some who are in the pictures will buy two copies. Besides, the Record loves to cover walks, since it almost won a Pulitzer for giving its best employees walking papers.

    As for that headline, the copy editor was likely just making a pun on "moving mountains/moving mounds." It almost works, but doesn't quite. Still, it's good to see some attempt at subtlety from an otherwise generally lackluster rim.

  2. Yes. I guess I'm too literal. Completely missed the "moving mountains" possibility.

    The paper puts a lot of effort into stories like this, then tells a story of court delays and bureaucracy, but doesn't really nail the business owners behind the pollution. Just doesn't make sense.

  3. Kelly's pieces on the Imam belong in the National Enquirer. The guy is a disgrace to journalism.

  4. I agree. He needs a rest. They should bust him back to reporting, though he'd still turn in the same purple prose. His "voice" is of an awkward writer who is deathly afraid of challenging authority.


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