Hitting the sauce
Friday, December 24, 2010
Houlton, we have a problem
Image via Wikipedia
The "accident-of-the-day photo" relied on so heavily by head Assignment Editor Deirdre Sykes to fill all that yawning space in Local has been grabbed today by Editor Francis Scandale, desperate in his own way to find something compelling for Page 1 every day.
But is it legitimate for The Record of Woodland Park to include crashes that result from police chases in classifying December as the most dangerous month on state roads? Maybe the real, untold story is a spike in crime during the holidays.
The news copy desk continues to wreak havoc. This has gone on so long you'd think Production Director Liz Houlton, who supervises the desk, would realize how all the errors in the last few years reflect on the paper's credibility.
Of course, the frumpy Houlton was the "Queen of Errors" in her previous role as supervisor of the dysfunctional features copy desk, but she is a pal of Features Director Barbara Jaeger and went on to a big promotion and, presumably, a big raise.
The photo-graphic-text package on A-1 refers readers to A-6, but -- oops -- you won't find anything about traffic accidents there. You'll have to turn to Page A-8, if you haven't had enough already. But there are other problems with the package, which seems slapped together.
Above the A-1 graphic, it says, "The seven days ending Dec. 23" are the most dangerous week in the most dangerous month. Yet, below the photo, big type says there were "1,059 wrecks per day" statewide in the week of Dec. 18 through Dec. 24. Dec 23? Dec. 24? Confused yet? The graphic is for Bergen and Passaic counties, not all of New Jersey.
Below that package, the main headline is written in the present tense, the drop headline in the past tense -- a no-no. The heads echo: "reduce air pollution" in the main, "drop in emissions" in the subsidiary head.
Another plane crash
The big news in Local is the death of a doctor in the crash of his antiquated, single-engine plane, which went down in "freezing rain and sleet" (L-1). Is anyone surprised, given the weather?
This is one of hundreds of single-engine plane fatalities the newspaper has reported in the past few decades, but I have yet to see a story on why these noisy aircraft seem to be virtually unregulated and why their technology has never been updated.
Hackensack Chronicle, a weekly paper delivered with The Record on Fridays, has its second story on morale and leadership in the city Police Department -- stories I have yet to see in the former Hackensack daily, which covers the department as if it's the only agency in the entire city.
Hitting the sauce
Restaurant Reviewer Elisa Ung gives two and a half stars (Good to Excellent) to the food and service at Griffin's, a pub in Cresskill. In the data box on Page 14 of Better Living, she reports the pub is "less appropriate for [a] formal dinner."
"Formal dinner" is a phrase she has used many times without ever defining it, and I can't imagine what she's talking about. But when you see the word "pub," wouldn't you know not to go there for a "formal dinner"?
Maybe the space in the data box could be used to tell readers if the restaurant being reviewed serves naturally raised food.