Thursday, October 14, 2010

Local news reporters in a horse race?

first miner outImage by papayatreelimited via Flickr
The first Chilean miner rescued on Tuesday.

I never thought it possible, but since mid-July, Hackensack reporter Monsy Alvarado appears to be filing more stories from her beat than the reporters who cover Teaneck and Englewood for The Record of Woodland Park. The three Bergen communities are among the county's most populous and they are certainly the most diverse.

But under the lackadaisical leadership of head Assignment Editor Deirdre Sykes and her clueless assistants in the past two and half years, coverage of all three has suffered greatly as the local reporters are sidetracked on investigations or, in the case of the Teaneck reporter, sent to cover the earthquake in Haiti.

Even if Alvarado is leading Englewood reporter Giovanna Fabiano and Teaneck reporter Joseph Ax, the Hackensack reporter has little to be proud of as she has virtually ignored city affairs while pursuing stories about the Police Department and suspended Chief Ken Zisa. 

Today, she doesn't have a story in the paper. And sometimes she just catches up to coverage in the weeklies. This is the legacy of Sykes' F.U. attitude toward Hackensack since the paper moved out of the city where it was founded.

And Sykes' and Alvarado's hands have been forced, as in the case of the parking garage collapse on Prospect Avenue in Hackensack, a national story they couldn't ignore, but one they never really did justice to.

Between July 15 and Tuesday -- about three months or 90 days -- there have been 41 stories about Hackensack, not counting police and fire news. 

In that time, nine stories were published about Englewood, where Malcolm A. Borg raised the two spoiled brats who have allowed Sykes to run amok in the newsroom. Sixteen Teaneck stories have appeared since July 15.

Who's the patsy?

The federal trial of Ridgefield Mayor Anthony R. Suarez is back on Page 1 today. He took the stand in his own defense, but no one has asked him why he met with a developer and a go-between in Patsy's Restaurant in Fairview -- and not in town hall.

Shafting the reader

Can the news copy desk make the rescue of the Chilean miners any duller? Today's A-1 head: "'An inspiration.'" Wednesday's A-1 head: "Miners being lifted toward freedom." Katie Couric said it all and a lot better on CBS News, paraphrasing now, A miracle unfolds before our eyes.

See earlier post, Telling like it is?
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  1. Where do you get your numbers? A Lexis search shows 33 Teaneck stories and 26 Englewood stories since mid-July, and that doesn't even include a number of police briefs and lifestyle stories about those towns. Or are you only counting stories that you approve of? Another search -- a byline search for Fabiano -- yields 33 results in that time frame. Check your facts.

  2. I have checked my facts. I have been keeping track of all Hackensack, Englewood and Teaneck stories -- from the three core Bergen towns -- since 2008.

    Many of the stories you mention are police and fire stories, which I do not log. And Giovanna Fabiano does so much non-Englewood stuff, it isn't funny, such as today's story on the pilot who isn't potty trained. She is constantly being pulled off her beat.

    I also count stories by other reporters, such as Ashley Kindergan, who did two Englewood stories on Sept. 2 and Sept. 27.

    Lifestyle stories are great, but not when you ignore Englewood's segregated schools, the Jamaican community, the exorbitant rents on Palisade Avenue or lack of parking on the other side of the tracks that are forcing merchants out.

    Today's contribution from Teaneck is another story on that big tree. Hackensack is represented by another blow-by-blow account of a cop's disciplinary hearing -- as much space as is devoted to the federal trial of Ridgefield's mayor.

    If you lived in one of these towns, as I do, you wouldn't be blowing smoke. Could you be one of the incompetent assignment editors who are responsible for this irresponsible lack of coverage?

  3. Maybe some of those bylines are on stories that only make it onto the web but don't appear in the paper? I wouldn't know, because I hardly ever read the paper but I sometimes glance at the web site and I always read the Eye on the Record to see if there's anything worth going to the web site to read.

  4. I think those bylines are off-the-beat stories.


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