Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Police spoon feed reporter

Teaneck Municipal BuildingImage via Wikipedia
The municipal building in Teaneck is not far from where an officer's car crashed.

You'd think reporters at The Record of Woodland Park would gag on all the no-comments and "we can't release that now" and "the results will take a few days" and all the other bullshit they hear from news sources, especially the police. 

You'd think they'd do independent reporting, showing the hustle and legwork of a great reporter -- one who doesn't take no for an answer. You'd be wrong, of course.


Today, as on so many days in the past on other stories, you have Staff Writer Joseph Ax reporting that Teaneck police refused to release any information on the cause of the crash that killed Police Officer John Abraham early Monday, when his car slammed into a telephone pole across Teaneck Road from headquarters. Do they have something to hide?

This kind of half-assed reporting has long been acceptable to the lazy, incompetent editors at the former Hackensack daily: Francis Scandale, Deirdre Sykes, Tim Nostrand, Dan Sforza, Richard Whitby -- the list is too long for inclusion here.

What happened to the newspaper that feuded openly with the Hackensack Police Department for many years over the release of information?

"So what should I tell the copy desk?" Sykes shrieks, punctuating her question with a run-on peal of laughter. "Should I tell them to use the word 'mystery' or 'puzzle' in the headline? Oh, I love this. Wait till Frank [Scandale] hears about this in the news meeting. This is a great L-1 lead story. Good going."

Did Ax go to the scene to look for skid or brake marks? Did he try to reach the paramedics or the hospital on the officer's injuries? Did he call the prosecutor's fatal accident unit and the medical examiner, which performed an autopsy Tuesday? How about the wife? Did he ask her why her husband was working a double shift?

Readers are left to find clues in the two photos that ran Tuesday or go to the scene, as I did Wednesday.  The A-1 photo shows Abraham's Ford Crown Victoria Police Interceptor was moving at a high rate of speed when it hit the pole between the doors on the passenger side -- one of the strongest parts of the body structure -- yet the force of impact bent the car noticeably.

The police car ended up on the sidewalk, pointing in the opposite direction of travel on that side of the four-lane street, which is a long S-curve. No side air bags are visible in the photo, and a side impact may not have deployed the front airbags. If the officer wasn't wearing his seat belt, he would have been thrown around violently inside the vehicle. 

The lack of skid marks may indicate he fell asleep or had a heart attack. The Police Interceptor has a history of safety problems, including power steering that "freezes" on hard turns and at high speeds.  


There's no other Teaneck news in Local today, nor any from Hackensack or Englewood.


Tunnel vision

The lead story on Page 1 today reports Governor Christie is pulling the plug on the Hudson River rail tunnels, although his authority to end a bistate project has never been explored by the paper.

Rail travel into Manhattan is already at capacity, but the end of the project won't inconvenience wealthy people like Christie, the Borgs and the governor's fat cat supporters, who believe they have a constitutional right to drive into the city or be driven there.

The real flaw of the tunnels is that they won't deliver rail travelers to the East Side of Manhattan, not that they won't connect to Penn Station (the latter is cited by Editorial Page Alfred P. Doblin to explain why he opposed them). But neither is enough to sink the proposal. Many cities, especially in Europe, have several major rail stations or terminals.

Christie's decision to stop the project is another blow to the middle class -- just the latest of the many royal F.U.'s from the Republican bully. 

Ass-slapping news meeting 

How many of the male editors' asses did Scandale slap in celebration of his decision to put Staff Writer John Brennan's poorly written story about inexpensive sports tickets on Page 1 today?  Brennan's drivel runs on A-1 only because Scandale can't inspire his staff to produce anything better.

Day of the 'dead copy'

Food Editor Susan Leigh Sherrill is fast fulfilling the stereotype of the dumb blonde. Just take a look at her "explanation" of why she started "In Your Kitchen," a column based on a cookbook recipe that runs with her husband's photos:
"Judging by the number of cookbooks delivered to my desk every week, it is clear that people are hungry for recipes and stories about food and cooking."
Huh? Not at all. What is clear is that publishers are showering her with free books every week in the hope she will give them a million dollars worth of free publicity, which she gladly does and passes off as a service to readers. 

Today, for example, she focuses on a recipe for pan de muerto from a book called "A World of Cakes" (Better Living front). Why would a reader want to tackle this complicated recipe when there are so many wonderful Mexican bakeries in North Jersey?

Look at the big smile on her face in the photo on F-1.  She loves free stuff -- cookbooks, lunch at the James Beard House, deliveries from ShopRite. Does she also accept free meals in return for her gushing, non-critical reviews in (201) magazine? Maybe she is just acting dumb.



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