Sunday, October 3, 2010

Free trip for the travel editor?

A funnel cake covered in powdered sugar.Image via Wikipedia

Skyline of New Orleans, Louisiana, USA. The tw...Image via Wikipedia

Did Jill Schensul, editor of the Travel section, accept a free trip to Louisiana to report on the 75th annual Shrimp and Petroleum Festival -- a direct violation of the newspaper's ethics policy? Is this her first free press junket or has she gone on others without informing readers? 

What about other staffers, such as Graphics Editor Jerry Luciani and Photo Technician Bill Hillermeier, whose work has appeared in Travel; did they accept free trips, too?

Greedy Stevie Borg, publisher of The Record of Woodland Park, folded Food and other weekly sections when he took over in 2006, but he left Travel intact. 

He then downsized and merged The Record and Herald News, the first in a series of cost-cutting measures that may have been necessary after he got a $3.65 million company mortgage to buy a Tenafly McMansion for his family of six.

Has Schensul's travel budget been slashed, too? In her column on the front of Travel today, she notes that in the wake of the massive BP oil leak, the Louisiana Office of Tourism felt it was "the perfect time to bring some travel writers down and let them get a first-hand look" at the Gulf Coast.

Now, I love Louisiana as much as anybody and hope the state can convince the nation that its seafood -- including its extraordinary oysters -- is safe to eat. But should The Record's vegetarian travel editor -- who doesn't eat seafood -- have accepted this free trip or any other, especially when the paper's ethics policy forbids accepting anything of value (airfare, hotel room and all the funnel cake, coleslaw and homemade pickles she could eat)?

There's no denying Schensul is a good reporter and one of the better writers, but here she never even tells readers whether the seafood is safe. (Folks, that photo that runs with her column is like a decade old. Even in 2008, when I would see her schlepping through the newsroom, she looked nothing like that.) 

Talking about features in today's paper, Restaurant Reviewer Elisa Ung's Sunday column is basically a rewrite of her Second Helpings blog post Sept. 27 on the suicide three days earlier of Chef Joseph Cerniglia of Campania Restaurant in Fair Lawn. There isn't much new today, because Ung, like all the other reporters who worked on the story, never spoke with the chef's family or restaurant staff.

Is this normal eating or gluttony? If you want to know more about Ung's eating habits, check out some of her tweets on the blog ( 

  1. Breakfast: cold paella right out of the takeout box. I am super classy this week.
  2. Breakfast: leftover lamb chop with pickled onions and eggplant from Maialino. Just slightly better/worse than I usually eat in the morning.
  3. This would be a great day to eat cinnamon rolls in bed and then spend hours reading cookbooks.
  4. "One of only a few places that I have returned to repeatedly after a review..."
  5. Why do I even bother buying trail mix? I just pick out all the chocolate chips.
  6. @usclynn Usually buy Crunch bc don't like it/won't eat leftovers. but this was much cheaper, so I gotta suck it up this year :)
  7. @usclynn Huge bags mixed chocolate (M&M, Crunch, Snickers etc) and mixed Skittles, Tarts etc. from Costco
  8. Bought 11 pounds of Halloween candy today. Goal is to keep the bags sealed until Halloween.
  9. @Sharynsdesserts On bright side, cupcake was great...tried Amici Ho-Ho-Kus few weeks ago and they said no more time, Wyckoff
  10. Remembering Joe Cerniglia
  11. Hey @Sharynsdesserts - I stopped by Ridgewood Coffee Co. last week for a cupcake and they gave it to me in a used, greasy box. What the?

Mike Kelly's column on the front of Opinion today notes:

"As we sort through the troubling facts surrounding the death of Rutgers freshman Tyler Clementi..."

Mike, how about sorting through your retirement paperwork?

I'm having a hard time seeing the relevance of  today's huge, front-page coverage on the trafficking of girls and women. Staff Writer Herb Jackson must have done this takeout by phone from his Washington correspondent's chair in the District  of Columbia.

The paper could have at least gone to the trouble of finding Asian women who have been forced to work in Chinese restaurants. And, unfortunately, the continuation of the story on foreign-born sex slaves, prostitutes, strippers and nannies in New Jersey runs opposite an ad showing makeovers for six young teenage girls, who look a lot older and a lot more alluring than in the "before" photos.

If that's a joke on readers played by Editor Francis Scandale, than the Local section must be one big belly laugh after another from Deirdre Sykes, the head assignment editor. The only Hackensack, Teaneck and Englewood news is about high water company fire hydrant fees.

How does Desk Warrior John Cichowki manage to write a second L-1 "blame the victims" column on pedestrians killed by NJ Transit trains without discussing safety measures, assuming there are any?

(Photos: Funnel cake, top, and New Orleans.)
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  1. Hey, you got to give ol' Elisa some credit for scamming the Record. Did you notice all those "leftovers" she tweets about? Who do you think paid for those lamb chops with pickled onions that she had for breakfast? No wonder she "samples" about a dozen dishes every time she reviews a restaurant.

  2. Hey Jennifer, show us the receipt! No way the Record is going to pay to send three staffers to New Orleans. Ethics shmethics. The only person left at the Record with any ethics is that clerk in the business department, whatsisname.

  3. Reviewing restaurants is a tremendous supplement to a reporter's income.

    All that free food and all those leftovers. Doesn't sound like Elisa Ung shares any of it with her husband or her baby.

    She was chubby when she came to the paper; you can see it in that photo with her chin, mouth and cheeks poised over a glass of wine that runs with her reviews and column. I can't imagine what she looks like now.

  4. "Normal eating or gluttony ..."
    Hey, this from a guy who eats sardines with aleppo pepper for breakfast. Whatever happened to good ol' bacon and eggs?

  5. The Aleppo pepper goes on eggs or hummus. The sardines go into sandwiches with hummus and tomato and organic spring mix. Eating cold paella -- that's gluttony.

  6. I don't think three staffers went to Louisiana. Jill Schensul takes her own photographs. The other two staffers I mentioned have contributed a number of articles to the Travel section over the years. This year, apparently, they went on a press junket to Mexico City, but I do not recall seeing a staff-written article about Mexico City in the Travel section.

  7. Ung's body must be chiseled out of stone.

  8. That's a good one. That cold paella probably feels like a stone in her stomach. And lamb for breakfast? It doesn't get much heavier than that.

  9. C'mon you guys, stop making fun of Ung's figure. Eating all that food is a difficult job but somebody's got to do it. And give her some credit for tweeting her readers, that shows she's trying to keep abreast of trends in technology. And please, no jokes about trying to keep abreast of chicken with frizzled onions, I'm being serious, for a change.


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