Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Incompetent editors must go

IZOD Center & XanaduImage by LancerE via Flickr
The Record predicts a deal on Xanadu, right, will come "by the end of the year."

Judging from the size of the sports-gambling patch on Page 1 of The Record of Woodland Park today, Editor Francis Scandale must have high-fived all of the males at Tuesday afternoon's news meeting and slapped their asses, too -- in a male-bonding gesture peculiar to him.

Every time sports trumps real news on the front page, Scandale likes to celebrate with his fellow males in a locker-room-like explosion of emotion.

Does he really think readers are so interested in what happens in the Meadowlands in the next three years? 

What about lower taxes?

Aren't they really much more concerned about what happens in their towns in that time, and whether they'll get a break on their property taxes, as Governor Christie has promised, and how little they've been seeing about that in the paper?

Today's speculative Meadowlands "analysis" is by Staff Writer John Brennan, who struggles as a reporter and writer despite all the years he has under his belt.

In his second paragraph, he seems to be saying you'll have to have tickets to the Super Bowl in 2014 to  shop at Xanadu or go to the racetrack. Huh? If you turn to the continuation page (A-6), your eyes will glaze over at the mass of information only insiders really care about.

There's more sloppy writing and editing in the lead story about departing Paterson Police Chief James Wittig. 

How well he did his job is assessed with nary a mention of the drug trade or prostitution that flourishes in some parts of the city or the number of murders. Where has Staff Writer Alexander MacInnes been?

Editors sleep at computers
Did he write the atrocious third paragraph or did some editor screw it up and pass it along to the news copy editor, who was half asleep?
"The City Council, at a special meeting Tuesday, was expected to discuss the agreement with Mayor Jeffrey Jones, which Wittig signed last month."
And the third A-1 story today makes you wonder why Scandale gave the front page to Christie for a rehash of the same speech he has given a dozen times -- attacking the teachers union, "incompetent" teachers and superintendents who make more than him. 

Readers in Bergen County and in Passaic County, outside Paterson, must be reeling from from the lack of municipal news in the paper, especially in Local, the section that is the pride and joy of head Assignment Editor Deirdre Sykes.

A story from Teaneck, on L-2, is the only municipal news in the section today, and it's the first from Staff Writer Joseph Ax, who covers the township, since Nov. 4. There is nothing from Hackensack, except a water main break. The rest is police, fire, crime and court news.

The accident-of-the-day photo is blown up on the front to fill space, but at least staffer Tariq Zehawi captured a dramatic moment in the rescue of an injured driver.

Road Worrier John Cichowski must have Alzheimer's diseases, because today he gives us his 105th column on the Motor Vehicle Commission, and his seventh on the Lodi office. He not only forgets what he wrote last week, but he has completely lost sight of his mission to report on commuting problems.

Nepotism is alive and well
In Better Living, for the third day in a row, food coverage consists of a single recipe, this one from Food Editor Susan Leigh Sherrill, whose weekly "In Your Kitchen" column gives free publicity to a cookbook. The photos are by her third husband, Ted Axelrod.

Nepotism is well-ingrained at The Record, where a number of editors met their spouses. 

Husband-and-wife-teams included Sherrill and Axelrod; Production Director Liz Houlton and George Cubanski, who succeeded her as head of the dysfunctional features copy desk; and Features Director Barbara Jaeger and sports reporter Steve Adamek, who is more unpleasant than his wife, if you can imagine that.

Sykes and Graphics Editor Kevin O'Neil were another wife-and-husband team until he left The Record under mysterious circumstances. So were Leslie Brody and Elliot Pinsley.

Of course, the most corrosive nepotism was Chairman Malcolm A. "Mac" Borg putting his two spoiled brats, Stephen and Jennifer, in charge of North Jersey Media Group, and allowing Stephen and Scandale to run the former Hackensack daily into the ground.
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