Saturday, October 16, 2010

Rewriting reality

The former Tenafly Railroad Station, currently...Image via Wikipedia
Publisher Stephen A. Borg lives in a Tenafly McMansion. The railroad station, above, is now a cafe.

A detailed story on Englewood schools, including test scores, leads the Local news section today, but something major is missing. How are readers of The Record of Woodland Park supposed to judge the scores if they aren't told the city's elementary and middle schools are segregated?

Are we to believe head Assignment Editor Deirdre Sykes and Englewood reporter Giovanna Fabiano -- in only her fourth Englewood story since Aug. 13 -- deliberately omitted mention of segregation? Or are they bimbos? What about Sykes' assistants, Dan Sforza and Christina Joseph, both of whom covered Englewood as reporters, as did Sykes when she worked for a weekly? Is this a conspiracy of silence?

After all, the black and Hispanic student body may have prompted their former boss, Malcolm A. "Mac" Borg, to send his spoiled brats, Stephen and Jennifer Borg, to private schools when they were growing up on Englewood's East Hill. Greedy Stevie, publisher and father of four, now lives in a $3.65 million mansion in Tenafly, not Englewood.

I recall how a former Englewood reporter, Maya Kremen, would file stories on opposition by the Borgs and neighbors to the expansion of a Walnut Street home that was converted into a synagogue. I copy edited one of those stories and asked Sforza, her editor, why the Borgs' role wasn't mentioned. He said there was no room to do so in the short story. But subsequent stories, even longer ones, also omitted the Borgs.

Kremen wrote extensively about the effort to desegregate Dwight Morrow High School, which added Academies in 2002 to attract white students (it was 99.9% African-American and Hispanic at the time, according to one account). The city's ruinously expensive legal battle to get Englewood Cliffs to resume sending its students to the high school had fizzled.

But I don't recall Kremen ever writing about any effort to desegregate the lower grades, and Fabiano, who succeeded her, certainly hasn't even mentioned segregation. 

Fabiano's woefully incomplete story today -- on the search for a new school superintendent -- is hardly a subject worthy of L-1 coverage, unless Sykes had little else in hand. The page is dominated by sentencing of a former Sussex County school official. I can hear cows mooing.

The  pilot-poop paper story -- Page 1 news on Friday -- is back on L-3 today, filling the space of local news stories no one filed. But to show you it's not just the cops who overreacted, Editorial Page Editor Alfred P. Doblin gives us a long editorial on A-13, calling the pilot foolish.

Hackensack readers get the third story this week on a cop's disciplinary hearing (L-7, amid other police and court news).

Sykes and her minions have been unable for years to inspire their reporters to cover their towns -- thoroughly and intelligently -- so they've resorted to blowing up photos of non-fatal accidents and other tricks to fill space, often giving the paper a tabloid vibe. They have the Borgs fooled, of course, but they aren't fooling readers one bit.

Unfortunately, Hackensack residents can no longer afford to ignore the weekly papers, lest they miss important news on the city budget and tax rate, the schools and even the high cost of the disciplinary hearings Staff Writer Monsy Alvarado attends religiously.

The Oct. 15 edition of The County Seat, the weekly paper published by the Zisa family, reports on the high school's newly renovated culinary arts lab. The story also reports the school has added "academy programs," including broadcast journalism and medical technology.

More than a third of Editor Francis Scandale's front page today is devoted to baseball.

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  1. Nice picture of the Tenafly railway station. I wonder how many former Record staffers are living in other railway stations.

  2. You have it all wrong. Those big photos are not fooling the Borgs, they're at the direction of the Borgs. They're not actually fooling anybody.

  3. Hoo Boy! I can hardly wait to see today's edition of "Eye on the Record," with the Record web site touting the 20th anniversary of the Road Warrior column, and only three of the six "best of the RW" columns by Jeffrey Page while the other three are by the current RW, who couldn't shine Page's shoes.


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