Thursday, December 23, 2010
Burying the lede
Image via Wikipedia
Readers thought Wednesday's Page 1 takeout told them everything about so-called reforms at Hackensack University Medical Center after a federal trial exposed payments to a corrupt politician.
So what's the explanation for today's A-1 story disclosing a $7.7 million salary and severance package for John P. Ferguson -- who was forced out as president of HUMC -- and millions more for other executives and employees?
Why was this held until today?
Ferguson is the same man who, on July 25, enlisted The Record of Woodland Park to publicize his new venture with a Page 1 story that had negligible impact on North Jersey residents.
The July story reported -- apropos of nothing -- that Ferguson was president and CEO of a company that plans to open up to 20 upscale hospitals outside the U.S. to cater to affluent travelers and residents, the first in wealthy Dubai.
Why are federal tax filings containing Ferguson's 2009 pay package coming out just now? Did Jennifer A. Borg, a former HUMC board member, have anything to do with the splashy July story or with delaying today's story about the hospital, one of the paper's big advertisers?
Borg is vice president and general counsel of North Jersey Media Group, publisher of The Record, and big sister of Publisher Stephen A. Borg.
Praying for a good headline
The main element on A-1 has an overline and a headline that seemed designed to turn readers off, not engage them. You'd think the news copy editor would have been inspired by a terrific photo showing a woman in court praying for a favorable ruling, and then written a photo overline and headline that drew readers in.
Instead, the photo overline uses the phrase "conflict resolution," which is about as dull as you can get:
Conflict resolution is their specialty
Who is "their"? The main headline below the photo says, "Court handles cases towns can't." Exciting, isn't it?
There are more problems with this A-1 package. The photo caption shows Mark Oprihory and Mary Foley, her hands clasped in prayer, on a court bench and, nearby, George Lahood, and says the first two await a ruling "in a case against" Lahood.
But the story doesn't even mention Mark Oprihory and Mary Foley.
Police and court news
In head Assignment Editor Deirdre Sykes' Local section, all the stories on the front are court and police news, and there is a lot more Law & Order coverage inside.
The entire section contains municipal or education stories from four towns, but no Hackensack, Englewood or Teaneck news, or anything else from other major towns in North Jersey.